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Squat's In A Name
A NAME IS A CLOAK OF LETTERS THROWN UPON A MAN. IT MEANS NOTHING.
The Transcendent One, Planescape: Torment

Someone or something is given a fancy name taken from mythology, religious lore or history, laden with implications for the educated audience - but never turns out to actually have a Meaningful Name. Maybe the writer just needed an Awesome McCoolname for their plucky protagonist or a name to run away from really fast for their Big Bad and didn't bother about any specific connotations, or they hoped their MacGuffin would seem more important with a sufficiently cabbalistic name - in any case, it turns out that no one's Jesus in Purgatory.

A subtrope of Faux Symbolism (applied to names). Can overlap with Religious and Mythological Theme Naming. Contrast Nonindicative Name, Ironic Name (both of which are inaccurate about what the person/thing is like, not just meaningless.)

Be warned that the below examples may contain spoilers in the form of The Unreveal!


Examples:

Anime And Manga
  • Earth Maiden Arjuna has an archer heroine named after the Hindu hero of the Baghavad Gita, but the series is a taoist tract and the heroine's journey is completely different to that of her mythical namesake.

Comic Books
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo.
  • The X-Men went through a phase in the Dark Age when a lot of new characters had Biblical or religious names, sometimes appropriately (Apocalypse, Nimrod), vaguely appropriately (Babel spires), or for no particular reason at all (Bishop, Gideon). Ahab would count, except that he's an obvious reference to Moby-Dick.
  • The trope is parodied in Preacher when someone pointed out that Jesse Custer's name has "J.C." for initials and Jesse says it's a ridiculous idea.

Literature.

Film - Live Action
  • In Moon, the four harvesters are named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the names of the four gospels. Screenwriter Nathan Parker insists that these were simply the first set of four names that came to mind, and that he could have just as easily named them John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Live-Action TV
  • "Scylla" from Prison Break has neither a "Charybdis" counterpart nor does it share any other characteristics with the sea monster of the same name.

Video Games
  • Many of the characters in Sacrifice have names from mythology, but none of them seem to have any meaningful connection with the relevant myth.
  • All the bosses in the House of the Dead series are named after the Major Arcana of the standard Tarot deck. Sometimes, the names very vaguely describe the enemy (i.e. the multi-headed hydra dubbed "Tower" is pretty tall and the batlike "Hanged Man" is suspended in the air), but they're mostly just there to be cool.
  • Metal Gear Acid 2 names the Test Subjects (Golab, Harab Serap, Chagadiel) after four of the ten Kabbalist Qliphoth for no good reason.
  • Tales of Symphonia has a lot of mythological names for things, particularly places given names from Norse mythology, most of which have little or no connection to the things they're named for. There are a couple of exceptions, though.
    • This is because Tales of Symphonia is a distant prequel to Tales of Phantasia, which was far more directly inspired by Norse mythology.
    • Tales of the Abyss carries it to a whole new extreme. Nearly all the towns' names, the "Qlipoth" underworld, and even the title — all drawn directly from the Qabalah in ways that make it clear there was absolutely no understanding of the original material.
  • Cave Story has minor NPCs named Cthulhu and Santa. The latter is an ordinary Mimiga who looks almost entirely unlike Santa Claus.
  • A lot of the monsters in the Final Fantasy series are given names of creatures and heroes from various different myths, but many seem like an excuse to give mooks an awesome name.
  • The four enemy Mega Men in Mega Man ZX Advent. They all have names taken from mythology; none of them are at all related to their elemental powers, and at least half of them are even the wrong gender. For example, the male Siarnaq is named after a Inuit goddess of ice. There is a bit more to the Theme Naming, however, in that three out of four— along with another pair of characters, Prometheus and Pandora— share their names with moons orbiting Saturn (Aeolus is the only exception).

Web Comics
  • El Goonish Shive has Immortals (who regularly wipe most of their memory anyway) randomly taking grand names from some or other mythology. As one of them said, there's nothing as funny as a hissy fit happening whenever two "Zeus"-es meet. Which is one of reasons why he prefers "Jerry".

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