aka: Prophetic Name
You know, when you name your Son 'Jeeves', you've pretty much set up his life's path for him. What is he going to become, a hitman? "Pardon me sir, but I'm afraid I must whack you."A variety of Meaningful Name, sometimes an offshoot of Theme Naming, but not always. This describes the situation where what one names someone or something results in that something or someone taking on the aspects of what they are named after. Sometimes this is merely intentionally descriptive after the fact, but if not, then circumstances will change to fit them. Sometimes you wonder what the parents were thinking. (Hint: Naming a computer system after a bloodthirsty god or demon is never a good idea. Naming an organization this usually implies premeditation of purpose already.) Genre Blindness prevents anyone from recognizing this and predicting future plot developments. Steven Ulysses Perhero is a subset of this, focused specifically on the tendency for names to relate to super-powers and/or secret identities. This happens in real life more often than you would expect — for example, by the name-letter effect. New Scientist coined and popularised the term "Nominative Determinism" for this. The Romans had their own term: the "nomen omen" (name omen). As some of the examples show, Icarus seems to be an unusually favored name in this regard (no fewer than five examples). Might have something to do with the name having a nice ring to it. Oh, yeah, and the melting wings of doom probably help. See also What Did You Expect When You Named It ____??
— Seinfeld, "The Pilot Pt. 2"
open/close all folders
- Ataru Moroboshi from Urusei Yatsura pretty much has his future laid out in his name: moroboshi-de atari means "struck by a falling star" — and in a metaphorical sense that's exactly what happens. (The joke was extended in the show's commercial bumpers, which usually featured something falling on him.)
- Naming anyone after Japanese stars (X/1999, .hack//SIGN, GEAR Fighter Dendoh), or the constellations from the astrology/geomancy system of The Four Gods (Fushigi Yuugi), is pretty much setting their status as Very Important in stone.
- Also in X/1999, Satsuki's supercomputer, Beast, emblazoned with the number 666. It probably doesn't help matters that when written in hiragana, "satsuki" looks like "sakki", which means "bloodlust".
- Chloe from Noir, when pronounced using Japanese phonemes, sounds very similar to "kuroi" — which means "black" in Japanese. The word "Noir" is French for "black."
- The organization "Nergal" from Martian Successor Nadesico is named after the Babylonian god of war and pestilence, for whom the Babylonians named the planet Mars.
- Likewise, the "Marduk Institute" in Neon Genesis Evangelion chose child candidates to pilot the Evangelions. The fact that Marduk was also a Sumerian god to whom children were (supposedly) sacrificed is appropriate.
- Similarly, Rei Ayanami. Rei being a word that can be translated a variety of ways of ways in the Kanji script; most prophetically: 'Spirit' or 'Zero'. Especially since despite Rei's status as an Artificial Human Gendo came up with the name long before the need for her creation and many of the plans relating to it even arose - it was the name he would have given to Shinji if he'd been a girl.
- "Hypnos" in Digimon Tamers was named after a god created by HP Lovecraft in his Cthulhu Mythos. (He in turn borrowed the name from the Greek god of Sleep.) Lovecraft's version made certain that the physical world and the dream world were separated. The main weapons of the Digimon version, the Yuggoth and Shaggai "programs", are also Lovecraft references, and ironically resulted in the world barrier being weakened.
- One episode of Dirty Pair Flash has the girls split up, with airhead Yuri getting a new partner. Her new partner "Lily" has every one of Yuri's flaws (doesn't take work seriously, easy to scare, always worried about her appearance etc.) writ much larger. Naturally, "yuri" can translate as "lily" in Japanese.
- Rezo, The Man Behind the Man and Well-Intentioned Extremist of the first season of Slayers, is known alternately as the Red Priest or the Blind Priest. This is a very early reference to his unique connection with the Ruby-Eyed Shabranigdo.
- Lucia of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is a Messiah-type character easily spotted because of her name; in contrast, the last Big Bad is an angel named Michel, both an allusion to the biblical Michael and a hint that he, like his name, is "off" somehow from the source. Then there's Michal, an Ill Girl with some connection to Michel; what it is isn't revealed until the end, but thanks to the name, you catch on quickly that it's there.
- There are a ton of examples in Eyeshield 21 of peoples whose names just happen to emphasise their abilities. This list doesn't even cover half the examples:
- Sena Kobayakawa, the puny but swift protagonist, whose speed and ability to dodge opponents makes him a stellar running back. His last name means "small, swift river".
- Joe Tetsuma, a powerhouse who cuts through the field like a train. His name means "Iron Horse".
- Kengo Mizumachi, whose style was perfected by his previous experience as a swimming ace, has "Mizu", the Japanese word for water, in his name.
- Manabu Yukimitsu's name means "To Study." While it is his outstanding trait (that, and going bald in high school), it was probably a deliberate ploy by his mother, who wanted a hard-working, studious son.
- Hiroshi Ohira and Hiroshi Onishi, the high-wave defence characters from the Poseidons. Their names mean Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, respectively.
- All of the Sailor Senshi in Sailor Moon, as well as Tuxedo Kamen, were somehow conveniently reborn into families whose family names reference the particular senshi's planet.
- Further, the kanji for Sailor Venus's first name, "Minako," can also be read as "Binasu", which is very close to the way "Venus" is pronounced in Japanese.
- In the Sailor Moon R movie, the main villain is named Fiore, which is Italian for "flower". As it turns out, Fiore is being controlled by an evil flower.
- Nearly all of the cast of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei and its sequel series have such names. The title character, for example, Itoshiki Nozomu, is a eternally depressed schoolteacher who has a fairly normal sounding name when written vertically, but when written horizontally in kanji, his name spells "despair" (zetsubou). His given name, Nozomu means "hope" (it becomes the "bou" in "zetsubou", which still means "hope" as in "totally without hope"), further cementing the irony. Of note is the fact that most, if not all, members of his family have names of this sort, courtesy of their surname which, when written horizontally and tightly enough that the two characters it is written with to appear to be one character, reverses the meaning of most names written after it ("hope" becomes "despair", "life" becomes "death", and so on).
- Light Yagami from Death Note, who has the character for "god" in his name...
- His first name is also a bilingual prophecy about how he eventually replaces L as well as being a reference to Lucifer whom he eventually parallels.
- More directly, as it's written using the four-stroke kanji for "moon", it represents death in Japanese numerology.
- A tragic example in Angel Sanctuary is Yue Katou. His father called him "Yue," which is a name usually given to still-born children and miscarriages in Japan, because Yue is his wife's son by her lover and he basically wants him to die young. Guess what? He dies young. Twice.
- Himeno Awayuki of Pretear just happened to have kanji "princess" ("hime") and "snow" ("yuki") in her name — pretty convenient for the protagonist of a story based on Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, who is initially described as "the one who can make the white snow fall".
- Million Knives.
- The Planet Kallamity in The Five Star Stories. Guess how this one turns out.
- Suzaku Kururugi of Code Geass has a name that means 'phoenix'. This comes to make sense in the series finale, where he technically 'dies' as Suzaku Kururugi, and comes back to 'save the world' as Zero. To make it even more blatant, the way he "dies" is in an explosion of flames.
- Also Nina Einstein who ultimately invents something which isn't technically a nuclear weapon but might as well be.
- Joshua Christopher from Chrono Crusade. "Joshua" comes from the same name as "Jesus", and "Christopher" means "Christ-bearer"—so is it really any surprise he ends up with holy powers?
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the main character's (code)name means "A Moment From The Holy Eternity". If one translates it to Japanese except the From, which you will remove the other three letters after F then it would read as Setsuna F
romSeiei. The director said that it represents the moments of revolutions in the long history of mankind, hinting at Setsuna being the true Innovator, the one who is going to bring revolution to mankind. Appropriately, Setsuna evolves into an Innovator during the last few episodes of the series.
- In Naru Taru, the main character's name can be translated as "a seed that shall never sprout." How appropriate.
- In Ergo Proxy, the name Daedalus is originally just prophetic of him being a brilliant scientist and inventor. Towards the end of the show, he gives one of his loved ones wings and they fly towards the sun.
- It definitely overlaps with Meaningful Name, but several members of Mustang's squad in Fullmetal Alchemist all have pretty badass names (Armstrong, Havoc, Fury, and Hawkeye). Particularly predictive are Armstrong (a Genius Bruiser) and Hawkeye (The Gunslinger and an expert sniper).
- Bibliophile Yomiko Readman of Read or Die fits this quite well. (Yomiko literally meaning "reading child" and Readman being quite obvious)
- "...then the world will turn to ash..."
- In Smile Pretty Cure!, Miyuki Hoshizora's Stellar Name doubles as this because it roughly translates to "the starry sky of happiness". Her Magical Girl name is Cure Happy. Guess what her reason for existing is.
- Warren Ellis uses this almost to the point of parody:
- Lazarus Churchyard is an indestructible man fixated on dying.
- The Authority has Jenny Sparks/Jenny Quantum, who can control electricity and quantum mechanics respectively, and Jack Hawksmoor, who has a psychic relationship with cities (he is named after architect Nicholas Hawksmoor). Jenny's name was deliberately chosen by analogy with her predecessor.
- Planetary has Elijah Snow, who can freeze things, and Jakita Wagner, who is something of a valkyrie (composer Richard Wagner wrote "The Ride of the Valkyries").
- Scars has John Cain, an outcast police detective.
- Fell is about Richard Fell, a detective who falls from grace and is reassigned to the worst city in America.
- Frank Ironwine is about a gritty New York cop with a penchant for getting drunk.
- Red is about Paul Moses, whose death is decreed by the CIA.
- In Rogue Trooper from 2000 AD, and the games based on it, Rogue's comrades were named Gunnar, Bagman, and Helm. They end up dying and accompanying him on his journey in the form of datachips mounted onto his gun, backpack, and helmet. No points for guessing which goes where.
- Stan Lee villains tended towards this too, such as Spider-Man's Otto Octavius. Take a guess, was he Doctor Octopus or Sandman?
- Even more egregious, early X-Men villain the Vanisher, who is a teleporter. His real name? Telford Porter.
- And of course Victor Von Doom, better known as Doctor Doom. The surprising thing thing is not that he became a supervillain, but that his father Werner had not already been one. (Doctor Doom however quite frequently fails to live up to the "victor" part, though).
- Invoked by The Riddler, who tells people his birth name is Edward Nygma, when it's actually Edward Nashton.
- What are the chances that a guy named Thaal Sinestro would end up being a bad guy wielding a weapon based on the power of fear?
- DC Comics hero, Steel, once worked with a man named Dr. Villain (pronounced "will-hane"). The good doctor was Genre Savvy and did a bit of Lampshade Hanging on this trope when he was first introduced. Guess what he turned out to be?
- In the James Bond movie Die Another Day, the name of the orbital mirror system Icarus rather obviously foreshadows the device's final fate.
- Star Wars: "Vader" is written the same as the Dutch word for "father", though pronounced differently. Truly prophetic, considering that George Lucas didn't originally intend Vader to be Luke's father.
- Also, overweight rebel pilot Jek "Piggy" Porkins.
- From the prequel films, we get
drugdeathstick dealer Elan Sleazebaganno, later retcon'd into being "Sel'Sabagno". He is, nonetheless, still a sleazebag.
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang With an surname like Scrumptious (spelt "Skrumshus" in the book) is it any wonder Truly Scrumptious's father went into sweet production? See also Caractacus Pott ("Crackpot," and later "Jackpot"), who in the movie had an S added to the surname.
- Parodied with Hot Shots!: One of the characters has Deadmeat as his nickname. Gee, I wonder...?
- In the Star Wars parody Thumb Wars:
Oobedoob Benubi: Wait, what did you say your aunt and uncle's names were?Loke Groundrunner: Soondead and Gonnabiteit...oh my God!
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). Totenkopf, literally "dead man's head" (e.g. skull) in German.
- Sunshine featured a ship called the Icarus... which was in charge of a mission that not only involved restarting the Sun but said mission was vital to the Earth's survival. Even more stupidly, when the first ship is lost, the second ship (which due to the massive resources involved in the Sun restarting device cannot be rebuilt) was named the Icarus II. Director Danny Boyle admitted this was unrealistic, saying that Americans would likely call it Ship of Destiny or Hope.
- Lampshaded in Spider-Man 2.
J. Jonah Jameson: Guy named Otto Octavius winds up with eight limbs. Four mechanical arms welded right onto his body. What are the odds?
- In That Thing You Do!, the band originally names themselves the "One-ders" (the spelling is later changed so people quit calling them the "O'Needers". Guess what becomes of the band. Lampshaded at the end by Tom Hanks' character.
Guy: But we still have a hit record!Mr. White: Yes you do. <pause> The one-hit Wonders.
- The band's unnamed bass player is give the name TB Player in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
- The servants from Beauty and the Beast were all given names that will allude to which objects they will be turned into under a magic spell. For example, Lumiere (French for "light") becomes a candle, Cogsworth becomes a mechanical clock, Mrs. Potts becomes a teapot, and her son Chip (who has a loose tooth) becomes a teacup with a damaged rim.
- The Incredibles
- Dashiell Robert Parr nicknamed "Dash." A speedster. Somebody really shoulda seen that coming.
- Likewise, older sister Violet started off shy and can turn invisible. A real "Shrinking Violet".
- Also, baby son Jack Jack is discovered to have a wide array of powers. A veritable "jack of all trades".
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth (The Lord of the Rings, etc), it is custom for (at least some tribes of) Elves to be given a name by each parent, and the name given by the mother tends to be descriptive of the person and may even be prophetic as to their fate. See for instance one of Fëanor and Nerdanel's twin sons, called by his mother 'Umbarto', meaning 'the Fated' (though she wouldn't tell which one it was.) Fëanor attempted to change his doom by having Nerdanel call him 'Ambarto' but still ended up accidentally killing him. See also the human Túrin, who attempted to dispel the curse laid upon him by calling himself 'Turambar' ('Master of Fate'.) It didn't work.
A Túrin Turambar turún' ambartanen (O Master of Doom, by Doom Mastered)
- On the other hand, Tolkien has some interesting things to say about prophetic names which may not have been prophetic at all. About Mablung Heavyhand (the name is connected to an incident from the lay of Leithian), he wrote:
"It was said that Mablung's name ("with weighted hand") was prophetic; but it may have been a title derived from the episode that afterwards became the one that the hero was chiefly remembered by in legend." The Shaping of Middle-earth, J.R.R Tolkien.
- In the appendix to The Lord of the Rings there is a character called Arvedui, which is Elvish for 'last king', instructed to be named so by Malbeth the Seer. He is indeed destined to be the last King of Arnor, according to prophecy (either because he'll manage to unify Gondor and Arnor and thus be king of the unified Kingdom or because he'll fail and there'll be no more Arnor).
- Ever wondered if the name Aragorn has any meaning? Well, in Sindarin it means "revered king" (though the prefix ara(n)- meaning "king" is quite used in names from Isildur's heirs, possibly justifying this).
- Actually, it's "Lord of Courage" or "Kingly Valor", depending on how you translate it.
- Rather "Lord of Courage": in Sindarin ara(n) can't be an adjective in that position (unless it's a very ancient name).
- On the other hand, Tolkien has some interesting things to say about prophetic names which may not have been prophetic at all. About Mablung Heavyhand (the name is connected to an incident from the lay of Leithian), he wrote:
- The Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling feature many names with deliberate meanings on one level or another. A number of websites have sprung up to analyze her naming patterns, like this one. A few examples:
Snape: I want two rolls of parchment on WEREWOLVES by tomorrow, including what WEREWOLVES look like, how to detect WEREWOLVES in the faculty of a British boarding school for wizards, and the definition of the Latin word "lupus." CLASS DISMISSED!
- Remus Lupin, who is a werewolf. Remus was one of the mythological founders of Rome who was raised by a wolf, and Lupin is similar to lupine, or wolflike. If he were born a werewolf into a family of werewolves this would make perfect sense, but he was a perfectly normal wizard boy until Fenrir (as in the Norse Armageddon wolf) Greyback bit him.
- Sirius Black has the ability to turn into a black dog. Sirius is the "dog star".
- Parodied in Sluggy Freelance's book three parody. Obvious names are given to the wrong characters.
- In the second book of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, Thursday is repeatedly tailed and "protected" by pairs of government agents. Pairs plural because none of them last longer than one appearance before getting killed. And appropriately, they have paired prophetic names like "Deadman and Walken", "Kannon and Phodder", etc. In a subversion, the last pair (still with similar names) manages to avoid being killed by staying well away from her.
- Of course, it helped that the person killing them was doing so by manipulating coincidences.
- The central figure of much of the action in Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash is a young half-Japanese man named "Hiro Protagonist". In fact, he changed his name to it as deliberate statement of what he feels his karmic lot is.
- In a play on this, in one of the Discworld novels, a footnote devotes a section to prophetic names, and describes some of the effects on the Carter family of Lancre: Charity becomes a miser, Chastity a prostitute, Prudence had over a dozen kids. Meanwhile, Bestiality Carter turned out to be kind to animals.
- Played with in last names also: Lords and Ladies has, in addition to the Carter just mentioned, a group of men with the family names Weaver, Carpenter, Baker, Thatcher, and Tailor. Between them, they cover those same professions as well, but no one's job matches his name (Carter is the town's baker, etc.). There's also Tinker, who actually is a tinker; they probably find this confusing.
- The Discworld novel Thud! has a character whose full, legal name is A.E. Pessimal, described as not having been named, but initialed. Fittingly, he is a government clerk.
- The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody feature a futureteller named Dell. This isn't a prophetic name, but in the fifth book, she develops a strong affinity for computers, and it suddenly seems stranger that she shares her name with a well-known computer company.
- Johnny Truant in House of Leaves.
- Near the beginning of the novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne, the title character describes his father's theory that a person's given name has a profound influence on their life, their character, and their destiny.
- Jennings invokes this trope in Anthony Buckeridge's classic Jennings Goes To School, in which he and Darbishire are trying to co-write a pulp detective story and are arguing about what name their protagonist should have:
Darbishire: But that means that if you're born with a name like Fuzziwig you can't be as bald as a coot no matter how hard you try, and if you're called Marlinspike Mainbrace, f'r instance, then you've just got to be a sailor, even if you don't want to be!
- Chance the Gardener in Being There was named "Chance" because "he was born by chance" (i.e., possibly illegitimate and/or unplanned). The Meaningful Name becomes prophetic when he heads out into the world and becomes incredibly powerful by way of a chance encounter with a financial titan's wife and a subsequent series of misunderstandings. As for the name of the wife, the first person Chance interacts with at length outside of his old home and beloved garden? It's Eve.
- Melony in The Cider House Rules. Her name was apparently supposed to be "Melody," but there was never anything melodious about her.
- In The Hundred and One Dalmatians the Dearlys' nannies, Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler, train as a real cook and butler after the Dearlys get married and no longer require nannying.
- In Sunshine, the eponymous character turns out to be good with sun magic. Although it doesn't hurt that she's the daughter and grand-daughter of some very powerful magicians. For extra irony, her real name? Rae. Yes, as in 'a drop of golden sun'.
- Well, her original real name, her birth name, is actually "Raven." Her mother changed it when they left her father the sorcerer.
- In Peter Pan, Captain James Hook. Actually, "Hook" was not his real name. Barrie makes it clear that he adopted it later, and that if it ever got out what his real name was, it would cause a scandal. And he signs his name Jaz. Hook, but yeah. He came from some prominent family that sent him to public school and got in fights in his own head about showing 'good form' like they taught him at school.
Hook: I am the only man of whom Blackbeard was afraid!Snooty Voice In Hook's Head: Blackbeard? What House?
- Grigori Eisenstein in Fiends of the Eastern Front shares his first name with Rasputin. He is accordingly difficult to kill, going so far as a Not Quite Dead moment. Being a partially transformed vampire helps.
- Stephen Donaldson had some fun subverting this trope in his duology Mordant's Need; many of his character's names are opposites of their personalities, such as a weakling bearing the family name Armigite and a determined lord named Fayle. Terisa Morgan, the protagonist, is played straight as she's a bit of a dark horse.
- Eragon Son-of-None (later Bromsson), shares a first name with the original Dragon Rider, an elf. This is so prophetic because he ends up being the first new rider of his own generation, centuries after dragons became extinct. The prophetic factor is weakened slightly, however, because it is later revealed that his father was also a rider.
- Very common in The Bible. Usually given by God, whether at birth or as a rename (and in some cases, at conception).
- American Gods: Shadow. The way the titular American Gods work is as a lesser copy, or "shadow," if you will, of gods from the Old World. Shadow is American Balder, and Balder is the god of Light.
- Deliberately invoked in A Brother's Price, where the firstborn daughter in any family is named Eldest. Her sisters and brothers are raised to look to her and told "Listen to Eldest, she'll be Mother Eldest one day". It's halfway a title. If the family gets large enough to split, or Eldest dies, the next eldest sister inherits that title, though not the name. Since there are usually quite a few sisters they are often grouped into the eldest sisters, the middle sisters, and the little sisters, and the oldest surviving sister is not necessarily the natural leader, which makes things extra difficult for her.
- The Death Gate Cycle gives us Alfred. When finally revealing his backstory states his real name is Corren, which means Chosen One in his language. Even though he is Last of His Kind, it admits it isn't all that prophetic since every family has at least one child given that name to invoke The Chosen One.
- In the Takeshi Kovacs novel Woken Furies, the revolutionary leader Nadia Makita took the name Quellcrist Falconer centuries before the events of the book. In the setting, "quellcrist" is a sort of plant that regenerates from finely scattered dust. At the very end of the book, it is revealed that Ms. Makita has returned from being Deader Than Dead and taken control of an array of alien Kill Sats.
- In Wings of Fire, the character Sunny has an idealistic personality.
- Glory later becomes queen of the RainWings.
- NightWings name all their dragonets this way, like an assasin named Deathbringer or a prophet named Morrowseer.
- In The Last of the Mohicans, David Gamut is a Puritan church musician. His first name is that of the Biblical king to whom most Psalms are credited, his last name is a musical term (a complete scale).
Live Action TV
- Dr Lazarus in the Doctor Who episode "The Lazarus Experiment" seemingly invents a way to rejuvenate humans. Lampshade Hanging at one point with the line, "Lazarus, back from the dead. Should've known really."
- And in "The Fires of Pompeii", Lucius Petrus Dextrus ends up with a stone right arm.
- Then there's the interstellar cruise liner named after that "most famous Earth vessel", the Titanic. Then again, given what the owner plans to do, it was probably his version of a very bad joke.
The Doctor: Did anyone tell you why it was famous?
- Planet names in "The Chase": Aridius, which is a desert when we see it, was presumably named while it was still an ocean world, and likewise Mechanus must have been named when the intent was still that the Mechanoids would prepare it for human colonisation, rather than keeping it. The Doctor Who Magazine review for the Past Doctor Adventures novel Catastrophea refers to "the charming Terry Nation habit of naming planets after what's going to happen to them".
- Babylon 5 mentions a science ship named the Icarus. The ship gets a bit too daring in its explorations and meets an unfortunate end, to the surprise of absolutely no-one.
- A minor character on Pushing Daisies talks about this trope: "Names are destiny. If you think Dwayne Cloggin ain't gonna grow up to be a plumber, then you just think again." Considering that this show also had a dog-breeder named Hundin and a Buddy Amicus running a rent-a-friend agency, she might be on to something.
- Invoked by Seinfeld, when Kramer notes the appropriateness of a library detective called Bookman, and an ice cream man called Cohn (pronounced 'cone').
- Almost every project or endeavor in the Stargate Verse is named prophetically. For example, Stargate SG-1's Prometheus brought the power of the Asgard to the humans, and was later destroyed by the more powerful Ori, and Stargate Universe's Project Icarus had hoped to use the Stargate to go where no one had gone before, but ended up dying in a gigantic fireball. You'd think they'd catch on by now.
- That said, they didn't name it the Prometheus until after they got some Asgard technology to play with, so it was a little less than prophetic, more "appropriate name our classicist scientist came up with"...
- Wizards of Waverly Place lampshades this in the "Wizard School" story.
Alex: We need to focus on Evilini. I don't know if you know, but she's evil.Justin: No, her name's Evilini.Alex: And how much cleaner could it be?Justin: Okay, if she was really evil, don't you think she would have changed her name to "Really Friendly Ini" or "Nice Ini" or "Totally Not Evilini"?
Harper: So she's a tutor named "Tutor". Isn't that weird?Alex: Well, no, not in the wizard world at least. A lot of people name their kids what they want them to grow up to be, but sometimes it doesn't really work out. My dad goes to a doctor named "Butcher".
- And again, in the episode "My Tutor, Tutor":
- Star Trek:
- In Castle, a character nicknamed Jimmy the Rat is a mob informant. Lampshaded by Castle, naturally.
- Season 3 of Angel has a Badass Normal man whose surname was Holtz (meaning wood) seeking revenge on a formerly evil vampire who murdered his family. He was able to capture and harm said vampire, but was never able to kill him and later stopped trying to. Season 7 of Buffy, a year later, has a man whose actual surname is Wood; if you make the connection, you can guess what he turned out to be.
- Scott Hope in Season 3 of Buffy. Now, if only his first name were Dash...
- Spike's name when he was human was William Pratt. "Pratt" = "idiot" in English parlance.
- Faith. You can take this from several view-points. For instance, her sponsorship by Angel, or (in the comic series) Faith's loyalty to him.
- After all, Faith manages.
- Frasier: Lilith. If you have a little information on that name, a lot of jokes about the character become a lot more understandable.
- Ash in Supernatural dies in a fire, and only his badly charred remains are found.
- Meta example: Firefly: Fireflies are known for shining brilliantly and having a short lifespan.
- Just about every single named character in Warhammer 40,000.
- Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels (who suffer from a debilitating bloodthirst), Konrad Kurze (had the gift/curse of foresight, eventually turned traitor), Angron, Primarch of the World Eaters, (who are, to a man, Ax-Crazy Berserker Blood Knights with Unstoppable Rage), Mortarion the Primarch of the Death Guard (and its current leader Typhus) devoted to the disease god Nurgle.
- The Space Wolves in particular stand out: a Guile Hero named Lokas (Loki), Canis Wolfborn (Raised by Wolves)...
- Combining this with Punny Name, Nick Bottom of A Midsummer Night's Dream get his head turned into that of a donkey, or alternatively, an ass. Of course, considering Shakespeare's language, this may have not been intentional.
- Deianira. Means "husband slayer". This is pretty much what happens in The Trachiniae.
- Sephiroth, of Final Fantasy VII fame. Made out of the ten sephirot (the plural of the Hebrew "sephira"), the Sephiroticum in Kabbalah is the Path of God, and that is precisely what Sephiroth is seeking in the game.
- The prequel game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII introduces Angeal. He starts the game as a somewhat benevolent figure, and as the story progresses, he manages to become even more angelic.
- And let's not even get started on Genesis Rhapsodos.
- Furiae in Drakengard, a Meaningful Name which is also another name for the Greek Furies, female personifications of vengeance. The Furies in Greek mythology were winged, monstrous women. Furiae, when placed inside a Seed of Resurrection, becomes exactly this. A thousand times over, in fact. It works even better if you think of the word "Furiae" as a sort of Latinate plural replacement for "Furies."
- Caim could also count, as his name is a Gaelic pronunciation of Cain, and in any of the story lines you have to fight/kill Inuart sure he's not Caim's brother in a blood relation sense, but they were one of the few people Caim didn't want to make into a bloody mess, which is saying something.
- In Loom, Bobbin's mother Cygna was turned into a swan after he was born. Cygna is latin for swan.
- Lenny the lyrebird of Ty the Tasmanian Tiger. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the protagonist has the code name of Naked Snake. He meets up with a woman named EVA. According to a specific dialogue in the game, the first spy in history was the Snake that tempted Eve in the Bible. However, the exact opposite happens in the ending, with Snake being used by EVA.
- Subverted in Hidden Agenda. Colonel Horatio Ehrlich is anything except honest.
- "Valiant Servant" (Shirou) and "Guardian Shrine" (Emiya.) to directly steal the quote from the Fate/stay night page. Clearly it's his name and not the fire or being saved by Kiritsugu that made him who he is.
- Done retroactively for the message-scrawling "Rat Man" of Portal; the cryptic promotional teasers for Portal 2 reveal that his real name was "Doug Rattmann".
- In Starcraft, the Protoss praetor Fenix "dies" and then is "reborn" as a dragoon. His name is obviously derived from the legendary phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes after it dies.
- Staggering numbers of NPCs in World of Warcraft have names which just happen to relate to their profession, role, or demeanor.
- Unintentionally done with Genn Greymane, who was named long before the Worgen were made a playable race.
- Beyond the Beyond has a playable character named Samson, who possesses superhuman strength just like his biblical namesake. No donkey jaws, though; this Samson prefers to kick ass with an axe.
- The Trope Image comes from The 7th Saga, which contains an advanced civilization which is an Atlantis corollary. Guess what happens to the civilization when it tries to hook up its energy source to the Dark World? (Maybe they would have had better luck if Dr. Fail hadn't been in charge of the project...)
- Flintlockes Guide To Azeroth:
- '''With a name like "Westfall" we were setting that place up for failure.
- Luckily they have Fort Pwned to fall back on.
- Poor Officer Getskilled in Girly spends his first story arc with a narrative bullseye painted on his back. To everyone's surprise, he survives that arc, and most of the comic, until he Takes The Bullet in a Heroic Sacrifice — only to be rescued out of the blue by an immortal man who whisks him off to a higher plane of existence.
- In Goblins, the goblins are all named by their tribe's fortune teller. While this isn't so bad for Chief, Big Ears, or even Complains-of-Names, you have to feel sorry for poor Dies-Horribly. And of course, Young and Beautiful got to name herself, even though she... well, isn't.
- And then you have names where the fortune teller clearly wasn't even trying, such as Go-Away-I-Have-A-Headache and Stop-The-Ceremony-I-Swallowed-A-Bug.
- Played with in the case of Saves-A-Fox, who decided to Screw Destiny and kill the fox she was prophesied to save. Dies-Horribly later reveals that from her description of the fox, it was probably suffering from an illness that would soon have resulted in a drawn-out, agonizing death, so that in a sense she saved it by killing it quickly.
- In this Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, the ghost of Sir Nedworth de Tete introduces himself, indicating that he had that name as a living adventurer.
- Subverted in the Protectors of the Plot Continuum mission Ow, Ow, and Ow Again:
Suicide: I once knew an agent named FluffyKitten, and by the Gods she could use a machete!
- Also played straight throughout. Makes-Things was the Korean technological genius who invented a number of useful items allowing the Agents to go about their duties. He was given this name by the Flowers, who were unable to pronounce his correct name. His assistant and later replacement Techno-Dann may also fit this trope.
- In Reynaldo The Assassin, there is a man named Captain Pirate.
- Homestar Runner has Bubs, who runs Bubs' Concession Stand. It eventually turned out that his full name was actually Bubs Concession Stand.
- Every. Single. Person in Astoundingly Unoriginal Adventure. Just listen: We've got PROTAGONIST, PROTAGONIST'S MOTHER, LOVE INTEREST, FRIENEMY RIVAL, COMIC RELIEF...
- Subverted with MINDLESS GOON, who seems pretty nice and is actually smart enough to not tick off BITTER CYNIC.
- Possibly subverted with MAIN ANTAGONIST, who doesn't seem very much like a villain. He complains that nobody wants to get near him because of his name (and accent?) and offers BC and LI some soup.
- In RWBY, Nora Valkyrie is an Action Girl and, yes, a little bit of a Blood Knight. Additionally, Weiss Schnee ('Snow White' in German) is a cruel Ice Queen.
- Worm has a guy named Andrew Richter who dies due to undersea earthquakes destroying the island he lived on.
- Wow, Jake Harrier from Magical Border Patrol took on the ability of magical sight! Never would have guessed it from a kid whose name means "Supplant Hawk Species".
- Invoked for a gag in The Simpsons where Cletus the Yokel comments;
-"We named her Mary because we knew she'd git married, we name all our kids whut we thinks' gonna happen to 'em. Ain't that right, Knifed-In-Jail?"
- "We'll see who does the knifing."
- On The Fairly OddParents, Timmy's parents were nicknamed Mom and Dad as children. This was done basically as The Un-Reveal to their real names.
- Inch High, Private Eye. Inch wasn't a nickname.
- In The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries it was revealed that Granny was always called Granny.
- South Park's Ms. Choksondik. Guess how she dies. Go on, guess. (Sound it out) But the newscaster said her death didn't have anything to do with the... "evidence" found in her stomach.
- Transformers Cybertron: Overhaul. Gets a Mid-Season Upgrade into Leobreaker. In Transformers in general, this applies in-universe to Megatron, who is named after the Transformer equivalent of Judas, and usually had that name before he became a villain.
- Used throughout the My Little Pony franchise to a degree. A pony's name tends to correspond to his or her personality/special talent, even though they are named before their later personality would be apparent (and finding their talent becomes a major focus of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.) In a more "What were they thinking" example, in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the Cakes name one of their newborn babies Pound Cake. Guess what he proves to have a troublesome habit of doing to things once he comes home from the hospital? Hint: It's not caking things.
- Speed Racer. Yes, that's actually his given name. He's a florist (No, of course not really.). Also his brother Rex, aka Racer X.
- In Inspector Gadget and Gadget and the Gadgetinits, Gadget actually is the hero's last name.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- From Ninjago, an inventor named Cyrus Borg. Guess his specialty. He even lampshades this trope by joking that when his parents named him, his career choice was set.
- Real Life example: race car driver Scott Speed.
- On the other hand, some other real-life athletes don't follow the example. Baseball, in particular, has had dozens of players with ironic names during its long history. From Bill James's 1983 Baseball Abstract:
Did you ever notice that players named "White" are almost always black, and players named "Black" are usually white? Why is that? The last White major leaguer who was actually white was Mike White, who played for Houston in the early sixties. Since then we've had Bill White, Roy White, Frank White, and Jerry White, all of whom were black; Mike White probably would have been black except that his father played in the majors in the thirties and they didn't allow you to be black back then. The Royals also had a Black on their roster, Bud, who of course is white; in fact, the Royals had to set some sort of record by having four colored people on their team, White, Black, Blue, and Brown. Scott Brown is not any browner than anyone else, Vida is definitely not blue, nor for that matter is Darryl Motley. I suppose that is the nature of names, as with Peacekeeping Missiles and Security Police, to disguise the truth more often than they reveal it. Horace Speed stole only four bases in his career. Vic Power was a singles hitter, Bill Goodenough was not good enough, and Joe Blong did not belong for long.
- When it comes to names and skin colors, those happen in French too: Michel Blanc (white), Eric Blanc (black), Michel Noir (blanc), a black racing cyclist named Blanco...
- How about Jack Black and Michael Jai White?
- Or as Jimmy Pop Ali says "I'm not black like Barry White, nor I am white like Frank Black is."
- German singer Roberto Blanco (black) added purely for completist reasons.
- On the other hand, some other real-life athletes don't follow the example. Baseball, in particular, has had dozens of players with ironic names during its long history. From Bill James's 1983 Baseball Abstract:
- A real-life "subversion" — one Archbishop of Manila (served 1974-2003) was called Jaime Sin; he was created a Cardinal in 1976, leaving him as "Jaime Cardinal Sin" or simply "Cardinal Sin" (which is even funnier). He recognized the humor, and often joked to his guests at the Archbishop's residence by greeting them, "Welcome to the House of Sin."
- Marilyn vos Savant, a woman listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under "Highest IQ".
- She was born Marilyn March (she is a descendant of Ernst Mach, by the way), but her mother's maiden name was Marina vos Savant.
- David Tennant, playing the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who. The Fan Nickname "d10" applies equally well to both the actor and the character.
- There's a Finnish meteorologist named Pekka Pouta. "Pouta" is Finnish for fair weather.
- Meteorologist Dr. Frank Field named his son "Storm." Storm Field later became ... a meteorologist.
- There's also a botanist called Aarno Kasvi. "Kasvi", of course, is Finnish for "plant".
- Poker player and World Series of Poker champion Chris Moneymaker.
- Professional ad-man Vince Offer.
- A real life list of these can be found on That Other Wiki.
- Ernest Fehr, an economist known for doing experimental work on notions of fairness.
- Try this one: Sir Francis Hole, who was a pedologist.. meaning a soil scientist who specialized in soil layers as defined by pedons.. which are holes dug in the ground. I'm not even going to talk about ecologist Gene Likens (pronounced like 'lichens').
- The 100m/200m/4x100m Olympic champion in 2008: Usain Bolt.
- The New Scientist article which coined the term "Nominative Determinism" cites some fine examples from the world of academia:
- A book about the polar regions by Daniel Snowman.
- A book about the London Underground by Richard Trench (and others.)
- An article on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology penned by Splatt and Weedon.
- Numerous accounts of geologists named Stone, Rock, Shale and the like.
- And so many others that they had to beg for people to stop sending them in. It didn't work.
- Satirical singer Tom Lehrer is also a teacher. Lehrer is German for "teacher".
- US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.
- White House spokesman during the Reagan administration, Larry Speakes.
- Wolfgang Wolf, former manager of German football team Vf L Wolfsburg
- Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal FC.
- Lord (Igor) Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.
- Lord Brain, leading neurologist
- Derek and Dale Kickett, Australian Rules football players.
- And of course, the poet William Wordsworth.
- In the special features of The Lord of the Rings, Sean Astin discusses his fascination that the man assigned to work on his hobbit foot prosthetics was named Sean Foot.
- During the Interwar period, there was a left-wing Marxist group in Germany who tried to make revolution, called the Spartacist League after the famous leader of a slave rebellion in the Roman Republic. Take a guess why that name was not a very lucky one. HINT: both rebellions were defeated.
- Charles de Gaulle was elected french president: France covers most of ancient Gaul.
- On Touched by an Angel, Andrew the Angel of Death was played by actor John Dye (a homonym, but still...)
- Professional boxer Tyson Fury. Need one say more? Well, yeah: as of this writing and at the age of 21, he's 7-0 with a 100% KO rate. Not quite as good as his namesake, but impressive nonetheless.
- Karin Slaughter writes thrillers and murder mysteries. And actor Tod Slaughter specialized in Melodrama villains.
- Why was anyone surprised when Bernie Madoff made off with all the money?
- A bit of a stretch, but Derek Poundstone, one of the World's Strongest Men and only other person to lift the fabled Cyr Stone, could qualify.
- Unity Valkyrie Mitford. Of course she ended up a Nazi.
- Jack Robinson is a very good name for a Major League Baseball player.note
- The Vancouver Sun Run was won by an African-born runner named Kip geo.
- John Tory, leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
- And now mayor of Toronto, replacing a Ford that couldn't run.
- Jimmy Riddle Hoffa.
- You can't spell Mark Hamill without "Arkham".
- Batman: the Brave and the Bold also had a writer named "Joe Kurr" on the staff. He later had to confirm it wasn't a pen name.
- Reversed: Thilo Sarrazin is a German politician who recently wrote a book where he rants about Muslims in Europe. Saracene, get it?
- Dr. Helen Patience Dodgson (maiden name Uprichard). A female doctor during World War II who preferred to be called by her middle name must have found it annoying to hear people talking about their patients.
- A super-executive named Donald Trump? What kind of lame writers does reality have?
- Averted by Royal Navy by naming a battlecruiser as HMS Invincible and then having her blown into smithereens by a single lucky hit in one of the ship's magazines in the Battle of Jutland 1916 (if you can call a type of hit lucky that also happened to three other British battlecruisers that day and caused two of them to explode in a similar fashion).
- She did live up to her name to some extent. Before her exploding she managed to score enough hits on SMS Lützow to set her on her way to sinking. However, two thirds of the ca. 24 heavy artillery hits on Lützow came from other British ships, and in the end she still had to be scuttled by a German torpedo boat firing two torpedoes into her after the evacuation of most of the crew (Lützow lost 115 men killed and 50 wounded, while Invincible only had six survivors out of a crew of 1062).
- Anthony Weiner was a New York representative until he was caught tweeting pics of his groin in 2011 and was forced to resign, although in April 2013, he announced he was going to run for mayor of New York City, only to get caught again three months later.
- The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, anyone?
- Audie Murphy was a highly decorated WWII veteran whose personal courage and leadership skills got him promoted from private to corporal to sergeant to lieutenant with impressive speed. He eventually earned the Congressional Medal Honor, for an incident where he was out of ammo, and the only thing available for him to shoot Germans with was a .50 caliber gun on top of a burning tank destroyer, liable to blow up the moment the fire reached the ammo. His first and last names were not this trope, but his middle name was. When he was born, his sister had picked out the middle name "Leon" for him. She later claimed that she had no idea that it meant "lion."
- Magnus ver Magnusson, which translates to "Big Guy, son of Big Guy, who was the son of another Big Guy", holds the record for most wins in the World's Strongest Man competition.
- The understudy (eventually main) performer for Big Bird is named Matt Vogel, "Vogel" being German for bird. Even current performer Carroll Spinney took that as a good sign.
- It's sometimes assumed that Thomas Crapper perfected the flushing lavatory, it was called a "crapper" after him, and that's where the word "crap" comes from. The word "crap" was first recorded in 1846, when Thomas was nine. (Terry Pratchett's theory is that he was teased at school and decided to make being a Crapper something to be proud of.)
- In the 2012 election for the Australian state of Queensland, in the seat of Lytton, the Katter's Australian Party candidate was named Jim Vote. His name appeared on the ballot as "VOTE, Jim". He didn't win.
- Samantha Bond played Moneypenny in the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films.
- Amelia Earhart (pronounced the same as "air heart") was one of the most famous aviators of all time.
- TV news reporter Amelia Rose Earhart is also an avid aviator. She is not related to Amelia Earhart.
- The director of The Amazing Spider-Man is named Marc Webb.
- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a devout Roman Catholic, and at one point was training to become a priest (but never actually became one). He also at one point served in the same Cabinet as a man named Peter Costello.
- Which side of The American Civil War do you think States Rights Gist fought on?
- Harold Bell Wright was a religious author who wrote extensively on the triumph of good over evil.
- It's 1972, and what better host to choose from for a revival of a certain price-based game show than Bob Barker?
- Averted with Philipp Lahm ("lame"), the captain of the German national team that won the 2014 football World Cup.
- French socialist leader and pacifist Jean Jaurès was murdered by a nationalist student called Raoul Villain.
- Subverted with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who, despite serving in various branches of state and federal government for over 20 years, has never ran for the Presidency and expressed no desire to run in 2016.