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The "The" Title Confusion
The word "the" is among the most common of all the words in all of the English language, the result of which is often the placement of "the" in the title of a work or in the name of a group regardless of the wishes of the people or the person who made it. (This also happens with definite articles in other languages: "le" in French or "der" in German, for instance.)
The "The" Title Confusion is when nobody seems to be quite sure whether or not a "the" is required in a title. As a result, merchandise or advertising can sometimes make it seem as if the title is constantly changing, or if there might even be multiple works/groups with the same title. Often Word of God
is required to make a final decision on the matter.
Further confusion surrounds the question of whether something which doesn't include a 'the' in the title officially should be supplied with one when grammatically appropriate. The 'United States of America' doesn't have a 'the' in the title, but you'd never use it in a sentence without one; by contrast, several bands which don't include articles get very upset
when one is used. There are times when a 'the' would clash with another article, in which case it's generally accepted that you drop the one in the name; it's "a Strokes song", not "a The Strokes
And then there's the question: if one is organizing titles in alphabetical order, should a title starting with "The" be listed under 'T', or the first letter of the next word?
Compare Spell My Name with a "The"
and The "The" Title
, when the use of a "the" is insisted
Oh yeah, if you're looking for Attack of the The Eye Creatures
, it's thataway.
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Anime And Manga
- (The) Slayers.
- From Cowboy Bebop, (Yoko Kanno and) (The) Seat Belts. (Also some ambiguity as to whether "Seat Belts" should be one word or two.)
- Tim Robbins' film Cradle Will Rock is about the production of and controversy around a Depression-era play called The Cradle Will Rock.
- Due to a printing oversight, we get one in the middle of Attack of the The Eye Creatures.
- (The) Bad Lieutenant Port Of Call New Orleans
- In the film Body Slam about a combiation of Rock and Wrestling there's a band called "Kicks." A reviewer talking to their manager casually refers to them as "The Kicks," but the manager is quite insistent that it's just "Kicks," saying that using "The" in a band name is passe.
- Averted with the The Fast and the Furious franchise, where The Fast and the Furious is the name of the first movie, while Fast and Furious is the name of the fourth movie.
- Not averted with the localizations: The first movie (and with it, the whole franchise) is known as Fast and Furious in France.
- The same happened to The Matrix.
- Or The Shining.
- Or quite a lot of movie localizations, actually. It seems like a tacit "rule" that movie titles that are not translated in France lose their "the", especially if it can shorten it to a single word, such as Avengers
- Similarly averted with Final Destination, where any confusion over whether or not it needed a "the" was cleared away (or possibly enhanced) by the title of the fourth installment, The Final Destination.
- Last Action Hero was usually called The Last Action Hero until its release sans "The."
- In the credits for The Man with the Iron Fists RZA is credited as "The RZA" for the screenplay for some reason, even though he is simply credited as "RZA" when listed as the film's star, director, and composer.
- The film Minority Report is based on a story titled The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick. A short story collection by Dick was released around the same time as the movie bearing the name Minority Report like the movie, not the original story.
- The credits to the American version of War Of The Gargantuas has a The before the title which is not included when the title is displayed on advertising or home video packaging.
- 2012 movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen puts a "the" in front of the name of the country of Yemen for no obvious reason.
- This used to be the correct form of the country's name in English (another common example is 'the Ukraine') and is still used by many older people.
- School of Rock was originally called "The School of Rock," as seen in its title sequence.
- The 2005 Spielberg adaptation of The War of the Worlds dropped the "The" from the title.
- The original treatment for Star Wars was subtitled The Star Wars.
- In-universe, there's a conversation in Mickey Blue Eyes about whether a restaurant is called "La Trattoria" or "The La Trattoria". Apparently it's the latter, despite being owned by Italians.
- All sequels of The Omen drop the article (Damien: Omen II and Omen III: The Final Conflict - which at times drops the "Omen" part as well).
- Despite commonly being abbreviated "LotR", J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy epic is called The Lord of the Rings.
- Also happens in-story: when Radagast talks about a land he's heard of called Shire, Gandalf tells him it's The Shire.
- The third series of Warrior Cats is called Power of Three. Officially, there is no "the"; however, fans usually add the "the", giving this story arc the Fan Nickname "Teapot" (The Power of Three = TPoT = Teapot.)
- One entry in Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series is a short story called The Borders of Infinity. It and several other short stories in the same series were later collected in an anthology called just Borders of Infinity.
Live Action TV
- In-Universe example: In the Firefly episode Bushwhacked, an Alliance officer asks Inara how long she's been on "the Serenity", prompting her to correct him that it's "just Serenity".
- Which is correct for all ships. See the Real Life section below.
- Happy Days: Arthur Fonzerelli, aka "Fonzie" or "The Fonz."
- Meta-example: Stephen Colbert refers to USA Today as "the The USA Today".
- A bit of an odd one: Ben Elton insists on referring to a popular show as "The Black Adder." Actually, that's only the title of the first season - i.e., the only season that Ben Elton didn't write for; none of his seasons or one-off episodes have a definite article in them. note
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has this with The Gnarl, who corrects the main characters by saying his name is actually just Gnarl.
- Weakest Link. It was The Weakest Link in the very early days, but that didn't last long.
- On Jeopardy, falling victim to this (adding an initial "the" to a title that doesn't have one or dropping it from one that does) generally doesn't make a response wrong unless it changes the title to refer to something else (e.g., Invisible Man vs. The Invisible Man).
- I uses a different article, but the TV series Game of Thrones draws its title from the book A Game of Thrones.
- In general, the rule of thumb seems to be if a band's name is (the) (noun) you always say "the" (i.e The Beatles, The Cure) whereas if the name is (the) (adjective) (noun) (i.e Spice Girls) The is either never used or is optional
- Pete Wentz's new band Black Cards are often called "The Black Cards".
- Eagles and Carpenters both commonly get a "the" slapped in front of their names. Ditto Faces.
- (The) Magnetic Fields
- The Offspring released their second album under the name "Offspring".
- (The) Pet Shop Boys typically insist upon having no "the," but where it makes more grammatical sense, it can pop up.
- (The) Pixies
- Conversely, it was definitely The Pink Floyd, at least until Syd Barrett got kicked out. Also, their breakthrough album is named The Dark Side of the Moon, despite often being referred to without the article.
- (The) Strawbs
- (The) Smashing Pumpkins, originally (they added the "The" later on).
- The band Talking Heads were often erroneously referred to as "The Talking Heads"; they responded by naming one of their live albums The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads. (Not helped by the fact that, in the film Stop Making Sense, one of the band members refers to them as "The Talking Heads".)
- Deliberately invoked by the band "The The".
- Leading to the following joke. A guy in a record store is asked to file all the albums in alphabetical order. He starts by filing them all under 'T': 'The Beatles', 'The Rolling Stones', etc. "No," says his boss. "Ignore the 'the'." Then he gets to 'The The'.
- (The) Jonas Brothers
- (The) Barenaked Ladies
- (The) Newsboys
- (The) David Crowder Band. Crowder once joked that the "The" wasn't necessary, but that he reserved the right to add it should another band also named "David Crowder Band" ever form, to assert that they were the definitive David Crowder Band.
- (The) Diablo Swing Orchestra. Their third album, Pandora's Piñata, even has "The" on the front cover—while their prior two albums didn't.
- (The) Buffalo Springfield
- (The) Electric Light Orchestra
- (The) Melvins. They played with this on the artwork for A Senile Animal, which actually does put a parenthetical "the" in front of the band name, and similarly renders the album title as "(A) Senile Animal". Their collaborative works with Jello Biafra are officially billed as Jello Biafra And The Melvins, probably just because that flows better as a name.
- (The) Eels. Although the only time a "the" has appeared before the band name in anything official was the Greatest Hits Album Meet The Eels - presumably Meet Eels would sound strange and mess with the clearly intended Shout-Out to The Beatles.
- (The) Eurythmics
- (The) Pretenders
- (The) Buzzcocks
- (The) Verve - Up until the release of their first album, they were officially Verve, but they had to add a "The" to their name due to legal difficulties with jazz label Verve Records.
- (The) Prodigy. The cover art to The Fat Of The Land used a logo that dropped the definitive article from their name, as did artwork for singles taken from that album, but otherwise they've always officially been The Prodigy. Some further confusion is possible because of a rapper known as Prodigy, who is best known for being half of the duo Mobb Deep.
- Generally, any band whose name is, or seems to be, a plural noun, will get this. However, there are aversions: Darts, Wings and Steps are three bands who seem largely immune to it.
- (The) Capitol Steps
- Julie Ruin was the one album solo project of Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna. The Julie Ruin are a full band that she would form over ten years later.
- See the entry for this trope under Screaming Females. Call them "the Screaming Females" in their presence, and they will jerk you around to their hearts' content.
- Italian horror-movie soundtrack composers Goblin were inexplicably credited as "The Goblins" on at least three films: Suspiria, Dawn of the Dead, and Beyond the Darkness.
- Many wrestlers from the National Wrestling Alliance and the World Wrestling Federation had a hard time breaking the habit of using "the" when they were in WCW. Bret Hart in particular was notorious for this.
- Likewise when the World Wrestling Federation changed their name to World Wrestling Entertainment, many wrestlers continued to refer to it as "the WWE," as do many instances on this site.
- 2 Cold Scorpio, having been temporarily Put on a Bus down to ECW in 1998 after a year-and-a-half of primarily Jobbing in WWE as Flash Funk, once referred to the promotion, where had been a regular from 1994-1996, as "the ECW."
- In Pathfinder, the herald of the god Gozreh is called Personification of Fury. Fury doesn't like being accidentally called "The Personification of Fury" by accident (or being refered to with gendered pronouns, or as "it").
- After the original 1E version, a large number of uses of The Temple of Elemental Evil don't include the "the". The sequel, Return To The Temple Of Elemental Evil, is one of the few exceptions, and it uses the "the" but only because the title doesn't work without it.
- Non-English example: Leoncavallo's popular short opera Pagliacci is NOT I Pagliacci.
- (The) Legend Of Zelda. This sometimes pops up in abbreviations: is it just LoZ or is it TLoZ?
- When referring to The King of Fighters, the The tends to be dropped by many (i.e. King of Fighters), although the eponymous tournament is usually missing the article as well or just goes by KOF for short. Ditto goes for The Last Blade.
- Langrisser and Der Langrisser are two different games; the latter is a remake of Langrisser II.
- The Numbered Sequels to The Last Ninja omit the definite article.
- The first Touhou game in the Windows series is titled "the Embodiment of Scarlet Devil".note Seeing anyone include a "the" when discussing the game is rare, and seeing it with the original capitalisation is rarer still.
- The series itself can't seem to decide whether it's called "Touhou", "Touhou Project" or "The Touhou Project".
- The Legendary Axe II features the definite article on the title screen, but "Legendary Axe II" is used everywhere else.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship apparently used to run into this confusion, as Nick Gurewitch addressed the question in an old version of the FAQ page.
Q: "The Perry Bible Fellowship", or "Perry Bible Fellowship"?
A: The PBF. Treat it like a rock band though. For instance: "I own a White Stripes album", not "I own a The White Stripes album".
- (The) Angry Video Game Nerd
- On The Other Wiki, battles have sometimes raged over whether to use the "the" in an article title. The Avengers (the TV series) has it but The Avengers (the comic book) doesn't. The official Manual Of Style says:
Do not use A, An, or The as the first word (Economy of the Second Empire, not The Economy of the Second Empire), unless by convention it is an inseparable part of a name (The Hague) or it is part of the title of a work (A Clockwork Orange, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien).
- As anyone who's seen The Social Network knows, Facebook started out with a "the" in front of its name.
- This Very Wiki has run into this a few times; "The" is usually omitted from a name unless it is a character type (The Dragon, The Pollyanna) or part of a set phrase (The Blind Leading the Blind). Back when character names were accepted as trope titles, "The" was used to distinguish, say, The Ralph Wiggum (a humorously stupid person) from Ralph Wiggum (the Simpsons character). Pages' search-engine descriptions take such forms as "The The Starscream trope as used in popular culture, with a list of examples from all media." Or better yet, for this page, "The The The Title Confusion trope as used in popular culture, with a list of examples from all media."
- The Batman makes a point of keeping the "the" when talking about him.
- (The) Family Guy. This confusion was referenced in "Bobba-Dee Babba-Dee".
- This mistake appeared (seemingly by accident) in a Scrubs episode featuring a cameo appearance from Stewie.
- The Jetsons has a full-length feature titled Jetsons: The Movie, to which fans sometimes refer as The Jetsons Movie.
- In-show example on The Venture Bros. - Dr. Girlfriend insists to The Monarch that the guy from Depeche Mode is straight—"I saw a whole thing about it on the VH-1!"
- The Transformers or just Transformers? Post movies it seems to have stuck without the "the".
- The Gambia
- Ukraine (no "The")
- Sudan (no "The"... though the error is less common now that both Sudan and South Sudan exist).
- Both of the Congos (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, née Belgian Congo, and the Republic of the Congo, née French Congo) suffer from this; neither includes a "the" in the name, but they're usually preceded by one in a sentence.
- United Nations (no "The")
- Skydome, in Toronto, before the name change to Rogers Centre (which still, for the most part, doesn't use "The").
- Ships are variously referred to both with and without "the" prior to their names. For the most obvious example see the Titanic, but it is not incorrect to omit "the", leading ships such as the USS Juneau to be referred to as both "Juneau" and "the Juneau". To add to the confusion, some ships, such as USS The Sullivans, have "the" as part of their actual name.
- There is considerable disagreement over whether Arizona's most famous geological feature should be called "Grand Canyon" or "the Grand Canyon".
- Back after it was built, part of the scandal surrounding the Los Angeles Times' handling of the opening of Staples Center, was that people from Staples and the Lakers were calling the shots on coverage surrounding it up to mandating that it never be called the Staples Center.
- The moon always has "the" (at least when referring to Earth's moon), because, contrary to what QI will have you believe, there is definitely only one. The convention is a bit more shaky for (the) earth.