So you've got a TV series, cartoon, comic book or other publication in the works, and of course you want it to succeed. What do you do to get it to catch the reader/viewers' attention? Make use of the character who has the most Popularity Power
or is played by the most popular star by promoting them to the series title, kind of like Wolverine Publicity
but for the team he's already a part of.
This has various scales, somewhat like the Poor Man's Substitute
. First, the character's name is appended to the end (Character Title
and Friend). Then it takes the lead (Friend and Character Title
), and finally it's just their name (Friend Title).
This alone is not an indicator of Adaptation Decay
, but generally raises a warning flag to potential viewers. Then again, if And the Fandom Rejoiced
is involved then it's just a mere marketing trick rather than a sign of decay.
Compare Billing Displacement
. Protagonist and Friends
is a form of this. See also Face of the Band
. When the creator
is the main draw, a related title trope is In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It
. Can also be a Market-Based Title
if it appeals to the popularity of a character or actor in a particular market.
Example title changes:
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Anime and Manga
- In Brazil, O Pato Donald (Donald Duck) #434 introduced Zé Carioca. The stories became popular enough that Issue #479 Was titled "O Pato Donald apresenta Zé Carioca" (Or Donald Duck presents Joe Carioca), and the series continued to take that title every other issue (So even numbers were Donald Duck and odd numbers were Joe Carioca). Donald's face was removed from the Zé Carioca title logo after issue #527, the words "O Pato Donald apresenta" were shrunk down after issue #539, and removed completely from the title after issue #981 until eventually, this trope was reversed when Zé Carioca split off from Donald Duck, becoming its own individual series after issue #1751. This treatment was quite generous to the character, because even for a while after the split, an issue of Zé Carioca wasn't necessarily entirely Zé Carioca stories.
- From issue 135 to 145, Marvel's G.I. Joe comic series was retitled G.I. Joe: Starring Snake-Eyes, with the "Snake-Eyes" portion consuming most of the cover.
- Sonic the Comic originally featured comics of various Sega games at the time. You wouldn't know it from the title though.
- 2000AD spinoff title Judge Dredd Megazine has gone back and forth on this over it's run. While Dredd is certainly the headline act, the comic contains many other strips, some from the Dredd Universe, some from other 2000AD regulars and some completely original. The logo on the front has changed a few times to reflect this: around 1995 when The Movie came out, "Judge Dredd" was much more prominent, around the millennium the name was shrunk drastically to give more emphasis to "Megazine" and then a few years ago this was reversed back to having Judge Dredd take up a whole third of the front page, and the rest of the logo frequently obscured by the cover art.
- Pitch Black later became The Chronicles of Riddick: Pitch Black after executives decided they wanted to spin off Vin Diesel's character.
- Madea's Family Reunion sounds like it is about Madea, but she is actually almost a minor character.
- The Live-Action Adaptations of Astérix the Gaul and Asterix and Cleopatra were titled Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar and Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. Might have something to do with the big-boned warrior being played by Gérard Depardieu.
- The Japanese live-action movie adaptation of Death Note covered the anime/manga storyline (sort of) in two movies, Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name, then added a sequel following the clear focus shift to killer Light's rival, the detective L, that occurred in movie #2. Movie #3 is L: change the WorLd.
- The Indiana Jones Trilogy DVD boxed set retitled Raiders of the Lost Ark to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sadly, the fourth bonus disc was simply titled Indiana Jones Bonus Material, not Indiana Jones and the Bonus Material.
- The Rambo movies are, in order, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, and Rambo.
- In the Cthulhu Mythos, Cthulhu is only a minor character of only passing significance and few apparances. Almost all stories in which the Grat Old Ones and Outer Gods play a role are about the less well known Yog-Sothoth and Dagon, or even Nyarlathotep. While "The Call of Cthulhu" is one of the best known titles, it's actually a rather short story in which not much happens and Cthulhu only has a short cameo at the very end.
- Parodied in Ogden Nash's poem "The Self-Effacement of Electra Thorne":
As for egocentricity, good heavens!
What's egocentric about wanting the marquee to read
OPHELIA AND HAMLET
Live Action TV
- When The Green Hornet was shown in Hong Kong, they retitled it "The Kato Show" due to Bruce Lee's popularity.
- The Show Within a Show on 30 Rock goes from The Girlie Show to TGS with Tracy Jordan.
- Star Ron Howard and creator Gary Marshall threatening to walk stopped ABC from their "brilliant" idea of renaming their hit show to Fonzie's Happy Days. But it didn't stop Henry Winkler's ascension from credited at the end of the episode to top-billing star.
- The Daily Show became The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, mostly to distinguish itself from the earlier seasons, which were hosted by Craig Kilborn.
- Averted on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Ensemble Darkhorse and fan favorite Illya Kuryakin was promoted to co-star status, so the show was really about two men from U.N.C.L.E. from mid-Season 1 onwards, but the singular title was never changed, and there was no question that Napoleon Solo was the man to whom it referred.
- However, the French title was Des Agents Trčs Spéciaux, meaning Very Special Agents.
- A moderately obscure one: 1980s BBC Children's show Lift Off (not to be confused with the ITV show of a decade earlier) became Lift Off with Coppers & Co. and then just Coppers & Co (though to be fair, they did drop the lift gimmick, so it was either that or leave it as an Artifact Title).
- Miami Sound Machine eventually became Gloria Estefan And Miami Sound Machine, before becoming just Gloria Estefan.
- MAD ran a parody of the above situation with the rise and fall of a starlet in a church choir. At first, it's "The Fellows" with just her head sticking out of the row of singers, then it's "The Fellows and Melanie", "Melanie and the Fellows", before apexing at "M" with a closeup of her face. From there it spirals down the way it came, with her a sad, nameless member of the choir again.
- MAD #79 had a similar "Rise and Fall" feature, with the starlet starting as a nameless member of a vocal group, advancing from "The Euclid Phlomm Chorale with Patricia Blousen" to "Patricia Blousen and the Euclid Phlomm Chorale," reaching the peak of her career with an album cover showing "Patti" and a closeup of her face, then gradually declining until once again becoming a nameless member of the Euclid Phlomm Chorale.
- During his tenure with the Faces, the groups' billing changed from "Faces" to "Faces featuring Rod Stewart" and finally "Rod Stewart and Faces" before Ronnie Lane quit and the group essentially just became Stewart's backing band.
- Similarly: Red Rider => Tom Cochrane and Red Rider => Tom Cochrane, with his first "solo" album heavily featuring people brought into Red Rider during the middle part of that chain. (Most people outside Canada will only know the last part of that chain, but Red Rider had quite a following in their home country long before Cochrane went solo.)
- The Supremes became Diana Ross and the Supremes because of her popularity and diva behavior.
- And because some have argued that Ross's involvement with Motown boss Berry Gordy caused him to favour her in the first place.
- Even cartoon bands are not immune to this. "David Seville and the Chipmunks" had their names simplified to "The Chipmunks" before they officially became "Alvin and the Chipmunks".
- This was less from fame and more from the fact creator Ross Bagdasarian's stage name was David Seville. After his death, his son Ross Bagdasarian Jr inherited the chipmunks, but did not do much with them for a few years, and when he did, followed in his father's footsteps taking the stage name 'Alvin Chipmunk' and also doing all of the voices of the characters using the same methods as his father. Thus the change in name over the years from David Seville to Alvin.
- During The Eighties, radio DJs would often announce Genesis songs as "Phil Collins and Genesis", as though Genesis were merely Collins's backing band.
- The Stooges became Iggy & the Stooges for quite some time because of Iggy Pop's popularity. Eventually it became just the Stooges again.
- The song "Careless Whisper" was credited as a George Michael solo effort initially in the UK but became Wham! featuring George Michael internationally.
- Initially conceived as a Tony Iommi solo record, "Seventh Star" eventually became Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.
- Rainbow's 1975 debut album was titled Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, even though Ronnie James Dio was clearly the Face of the Band.
- Selena Gomez's band was (at Gomez's own request) originally just "The Scene" , but to capitalize on Selena's fanbase and name-recognition, it became Selena Gomez & The Scene.
- The Final Cut is credited to "Roger Waters, with Pink Floyd''.
- Starting in the late '60s, the Peanuts Sunday Strip had the subtitle "Featuring Good ol' Charlie Brown" for much of its run.
- When the character of Snuffy Smith became popular in the Barney Google strip, it was renamed Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, and continued to be called that long after the focus shifted almost exclusively to Snuffy, with "Barney Google and" being reduced to small print in the title.
- E.C. Segar's Thimble Theatre was a well-regarded strip recounting the adventures of one Castor Oyl, his family, and his best friend Ham Gravy, until one day they needed to hire a sailor to captain a ship for them. The sailor, like most of the strip's cast, was intended to be a throw-away character, never to return after the story arc ended, but fan response was so overwhelmingly positive that he joined the main cast, and eventually the strip was re-named after him. You might have read it; it's called Popeye.
- The latest game in the Nicktoons Unite series is billed "Sponge Bob Square Pants featuring Nicktoons" rather than just "Nicktoons".
- To be fair, unlike the past titles, SpongeBob actually is a focal point of the plot rather than just part of an ensemble cast in the console version. No excuse for the DS version, though.
- In Europe, the series is entitled "SpongeBob SquarePants and Friends" since the beginning.
- The PlayStation port of Addiction Pinball was renamed Worms Pinball.
- The 360/PS3 "sequel" to the Sega Genesis Collection is entitled Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection in America but Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection in Europe.
- GB Bomberman was retitled Wario Blast: featuring Bomberman outside Japan, even though it was Wario being shoehorned into a Bomberman game rather than the other way around.
- The MSX2 sequel to the original Metal Gear was titled Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, with the "Solid Snake" portion spelled in bigger letters (some official sources even go as far to call the game Solid Snake: Metal Gear 2, much like the Rambo example above). However, the series subverted this with the third game, Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation. While "Solid" is indeed part of Solid Snake's codename, the word also has some significance besides the main character (mainly that its the third Metal Gear and the first one in 3D).
- An inversion: in Japan, the Castlevania series is known as Akumajou Dracula ("Demon Castle Dracula") and with a few exceptions (particularly Vampire Killer for the Mega Drive, the Japanese version of Castlevania: Bloodlines), all of the games in the series have been released under the Akumajou Dracula name until the second GBA game, in which Konami attempted to adapt the overseas title of Castlevania for the Japanese versions due to Dracula's downplayed role in the newer games. It didn't quite work out and after fan backlash, the series went back to being called Akumajou Dracula in Japan.
- In Japan, Castlevania never had a consistent title up until later games. The second Famicom game was titled Dracula II, the third one was Akumajou Densetsu (Legend of the Devil's Castle), the first two Game Boy games were known as Dracula Densetsu (Legend of Dracula) and the Mega Drive was called Vampire Killer. It wasn't until Chi no Rondo for the PC Engine that the full Akumajo Dracula name started to be used more frequently in sequels.
- Mega Man Zero. Despite popular belief, the "title" character is not a "Mega Man", it's Mega Man X's friend Zero.
- Inversion: the sequels to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney downplayed the "Phoenix Wright" portion of the title after the localization staff realized that the fourth installment would feature a new protagonist, which ended up being released as Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
- Jak and Daxter turned into Jak II with the second game. Of course, since it went Darker and Edgier with that game, removing the comic relief sidekick from the title made sense.
- Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (to be fair, over a third of the characters are from the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise)
- The sequel takes it up a notch, removing "SEGA" out of the title and simply calling it ''Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed."
- The Data East beat-em-up Dragon Ninja became Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja when it was released in North America to simply Bad Dudes when it was ported to the NES. A Justified Trope, since the titular "Dragon Ninja" was actually the main bad guy.
- Not quite a character, but a similar idea: Final Fantasy Chronicles for the Playstation is a Compilation Re-release... but only one of the games is a Final Fantasy title (Final Fantasy IV). The other is Chrono Trigger.
- Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon is a curious example. On the SNES, a game from the Ganbare Goemon series was released in English as Legend of the Mystical Ninja. It seems that Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon was an attempt to keep the Mystical Ninja name for the franchise in the US whilst also having the main character's name in the title. In the European release's logo, the words "Starring Goemon" are much bigger than "Mystical Ninja". So, in a sense, Goemon is stealing the spotlight from himself.
- It's also worth mentioning that the Ganbare Goemon game featured in the English Konami GB Collection Vol. 3, which uses the same logo, is simply called Starring Goemon in the game itself.
- The classic arcade Beat 'em Up Captain America and the Avengers had Captain America as only one of a team of four playable characters. A voice clip exclaiming "The Avengers!" supports the notion that Captain America was shoehorned into the game's title.
- In Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, Spyro the Dragon is only one character out of 32, and within the game itself has no more prominence than any of the others, other than being one of the three packaged with the game. Furthermore, the sequel is titled Skylanders: Giants, taking Spyro out of the spotlight completely. Tropes Are Not Bad, however. Without Spyro, and the heavy marketing around him, it was very unlikely that Skylanders could've take off as it is.
- Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition was retitled Pokémon Conquest for North America, most likely because Nobunaga's Ambition is a fairly obscure series in America.