What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?
"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.'"
Some names, frequently taken from historical events, seem to be jinxed. No one wants to ride on a ship (or a spaceship
) named "Titanic" or "Hindenburg
". Similarly, anything named "Icarus"
is begging for a wing-clipping, and the Goliath is going down hard, probably to a smaller opponent
(bonus points if said smaller opponent is named David.
) Likewise, don't compare your defenses to the walls of Jericho — that'll just make 'em go splat like an ant beneath an elephant's foot (with said ant being you, and said elephant's foot being the wrath of God
.) It's probably not a good idea to name your vehicle the Doom Buggy
, either, especially if you plan on driving your friends around in it. And if you're assigned to name a computer, let alone a supercomputer, "Skynet"
is strictly off limits; after all, what good is a computer if all it wants to do is Take Over the World
No matter its size or intended role, Colossus and Guardian are also bad choices.
Note that it has to be the name of something that has already
gone down: The original Hindenburg
was not an example of this trope (but Titanic
arguably was, see the Real Life
Compare Names to Run Away From Really Fast
, Prophetic Name
, I Don't Like the Sound of That Place
, and Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?
. Related to Analogy Backfire
and of course Tempting Fate
Due to the nature of this trope, expect spoilers.
open/close all folders
- Naming any form of flying contraption "Icarus". Who in his right mind calls something after the most famous story of a man killing himself by recklessly misusing a flying device that performs safely when used as intended? note
- There seems to be a minor trend in entertainment (particularly sci-fi) where any episode or chapter that is called or refers to "The Great Leap Forward" will involve a major, disastrous incident.
Anime and Manga
- Most of the Neon Genesis Evangelion cast are named after sunken World War II battleships and carriers (poor Asuka gets the dubious distinction of having both of her last names be associated with a terrible fate); is it any surprise that the place is a Dysfunction Junction?
- Asuka also compares the door to her room to the "impenetrable wall of Jericho" at one point, and tells Shinji not to try entering while she sleeps. Considering what really happened to Jericho, this implies she either subconsciously wants the wall to be "penetrated" or intentionally gave Shinji an oblique hint to try something (which he does not).
- There was a notable subversion in the second season of Yu Gi Oh ZEXAL; two minor antagonists, Umimi and Tobio, competed in a team duel against Yuma and Anna, with Umimi using a monster named "Supercolossal, Unsinkable Superliner Elegant Titanic" and Tobio using one named "Supercolossal Airship Giant Hindenburg". (They lost the duel, but these two monsters actually did their job rather well; if any card failed, it was the Barian Chaos Xyz that Vector gave them.)
- In Death Note: on the surface, naming your child "Light" doesn't seem to jinx anything. But no mother in her right mind writes her kid's name with the kanji for moon, which has four strokes. Plus, Light Yagami's name seems to mostly derive from another infamous light-associated character - Lucifer the Light-Bringer.
- Not to mention his last name is written with the kanji for "night" and "God".
- In One Piece, we have Ace of the Spades Pirates. Ace of Spades is known as the death card. Guess who died at the end of Marineford?
- Ozymandias in Watchmen. Apparently he wanted to reclaim the name from the elegant ignominy to which Shelley's poem had consigned it.
- Also, there's the Gordian Knot Lock Company. Fittingly, we see the locks broken several times, but apparently never picked.
- Icarus of the X-Men, a mutant born with wings. Reverend Stryker cuts his wings off, tricks him into helping kill a busload of his former friends, and then murders him.
- When Henry Pym got tired of the name "Giant Man", he changed it to "Goliath". Others who took his growth serum, such as Clint Barton and David Foster, took the name Goliath as well. And finally, during Civil War, Foster was killed by a clone of Thor, who was so tiny in comparison...
- A common out-of-universe reaction to the '70s storyline wherein Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy was addicted to drugs. As Superdickery put it, "It's like walking in on your ward doing a corpse and going 'Necrophilia Lad! How could you?!"
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero, Kyon names his new learning phone (which was created from a piece of data left behind by Ryoko Asakura) Skynet. Subverted, in that the reason he named it Skynet is because he fully expects it to betray him.
- The Last Colony by John Scalzi centers around the newly-colonized planet of Roanoke. The protagonist essentially facepalms when it hits him.
- Subverted in that the name was quite deliberately chosen by those who set up the colony, and hints at their reasons and ultimate plan for it - though it still goes awry for those who set the colony up, in a way according to the name. Roanoke wasn't simply lost, its settlers abandoned it and joined the natives.
- The Starship Titanic is mentioned in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, along with the GSS Suicidal Insanity.
- The latter is part of a crescendo sequence, GSS Daring, GSS Audacity, and GSS Suicidal Insanity. Daring and Audacity are actual names of Royal Navy ships.
- Starship Titanic later got its own game and novelisation. Its maiden voyage went as hilariously badly as one would expect given the name and the author.
- The Wing Commander novel False Colors has a character refuse to name a ship the Alamo, because while the Battle of the Alamo is an inspirational bit of history and the defenders were heroes... they lost. And they all died.
- Lampshaded in one of the Honor Harrington books. The Havenite battle plan is code-named Icarus, and one of the commanding officers muses that if he were in charge, he wouldn't have named the plan after the one whose wings fell apart. Strangely, it's one of Haven's most successful operations.
- It's possible that the "Icarus" in "Operation Icarus" actually referred to the Manticorans.
- Also: The Solarian League named a series of ships the Joseph Buckley class. They should've known.
- They probably did — given that the scientist himself was well known in-universe for his reckless disregard of common sense. And it gets worse: Every Solarian ship named after Joseph Buckley (and there were quite a few) met bad ends. Several of them were lost to accidents instead of combat.
- In the Manticore Ascendant novel A Call To Duty, a Manticoran sloop is called Phobos, after one of the moons of Mars, but by extension, also after the Greek personification of fear. The ship proves to be a nightmare for her builders and crew, and meets a disastrous end.
- In the Navigator Pirks series, there is a story about a spaceship called "Goliath", which was sent to investigate Saturn's rings. Goliath was killed by a small rock. Saturn's rings are made of small rocks. Guess how well that goes.
- There's a short story which replays the Charge of the Light Brigade with robots on another planet. The general whose orders accidentally sent the robots attacking the wrong enemy positions was observing from a starship Balaklava, named for the battle in which the original charge took place.
- There's a Soviet book about one Captain Vrungel (mix of Wrangel and vrun "liar"). He named his boat Pobeda, "Victory", because "it will sail according to how you name it. You can name your boat 'Trough' or 'Sieve"', but don't expect it to not to sink at its first sailing." Ironically, at Pobeda's first sailing, two letters fell off and the ship became called Beda: "Trouble" (the pun is "Courage" and "Rage" in the English translation). The four letters remaining are the only part of the ship to complete the journey.
- There's a Shout-Out to this in Alpha Protocol, where a mobster's yacht in Moscow is named the same thing, with the "Po" missing; by the morning after Mike visits, it's a ghost ship with no signs of a struggle.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Han confronts an incredibly naive Imperial weapons designer about the projects she's worked on. Projects with names like Death Star, World Devastator, and Sun Crusher. Did she really think that these would be projects with peaceful applications?
- The good airship Hubris in More Information Than You Require.
- Discussed in Diane Duane's Star Trek novel My Enemy My Ally, first of the Rihannsu books. The Rihannsu (Romulan) belief system places great meaning on names, and it is considered unlucky to name a ship after a virtue, as it is all too likely to take too much of the spirit of that virtue. Kirk then muses on the unlucky histories of ships named Intrepid, and the Rihannsu renegade he's speaking with explains, "Name a ship for the spirit of fearlessness, and it forgets to fear." (She also thinks it explains why the ship named for the spirit of enterprise is so constantly in the thick of things.)
- Harry Potter gives us Professor Remus Lupin who is a werewolf — "Remus" being a mythical child raised by wolves (brother to Romulus, founder of Rome), and "Lupin" as described above. In addition, out of the two Roman brothers, guess which one died (killed by his twin, even) when you have to be alive to found a city. He appears aware of this, as he uses "Romulus" as a pseudonym for a radio broadcast late in the series. J. K. Rowling seems very fond of meaningful names.
- In the short story Sucker Bait, humanity tries to colonise a lush, though somewhat cold (but rich in biosphere) planet called Troas. The first colonisation expedition died after three years on the planet - and now they prepare to send the next... (although, to be fair, they did file away the records about the first attemp.t) If it's not clear how this qualifies, "Troas" is the region Troy was in — though they did have a valid reason to name it that, as it was in the L5 or "Trojan" Lagrange Point of the binary system.
- In the Troy Rising series, the alien Rangora are rather baffled by the fact that Earth's first two Battlestations are named after famous, historical defeats — the Troy and the Thermopylae. (Of course, any defeat is a victory for someone else — the Greeks won one of those, and technically lost the other.) But ultimately, the trope is subverted — both battlestations wind up facing scenarios similar to their historical counterparts, but weather them. In the third book, Tyler Vernon admits that he named the first two stations after those historic defeats because back then, he didn't know if they'd work — his main hope was that, even in defeat, they'd be memorable and serve as an inspirational example to future resistance, similar to how the fall of Troy is believed to have caused the birth of the Roman Empire, and the Battle of Thermopylae catalyzed Greece into an ultimately successful union to oppose the Persian invaders.
- German novel Azrael has the eponymous experimental drug named after the angel of death. Of course, the book is of the horror genre.
- Invoked in The Sound and the Fury when the younger Quentin Compson disappears. Her grandmother promptly looks for a suicide note, assuming she followed the lead of her deceased uncle Quentin.
- The Lost Fleet series gives us the Invincible, a ship name with the highest turnover rate of all. Most see the name as an affront to the ancestors and the living stars. Despite this, the fleet bureaucracy refuses to retire the name and gives it to a new ship as soon as they learn that the previous one has been destroyed.
- The Doctor Who episode "Voyage of The Damned" features a space faring vessel called Titanic that resembles the famed ship. Used for tourist visits to a primitive planet (namely Earth), it was named after a "famous ocean-going Earth vessel." The Doctor comments on how poor a name that is, and isn't too surprised when the ship starts to blow up and "sink." It was an Invoked Trope. The ship was supposed to crash into the planet and go nuclear, as a sort of genocidal insurance fraud...
- Babylon 5:
- One episode featured some barely-audible background dialogue along the lines of "Transport Marie Celeste now docking." When fans pointed out online that no one would be crazy enough to name a starship after a famous ocean-going ship whose crew vanished mysteriously, creator J. Michael Straczynski pointed out that Australians might indeed be just that crazy.
- Elsewhere in the series was also a ship named the "Icarus". It was an archaeological explorer's vessel, and it was destroyed with all hands lost when it went to Z'ha'dum, the home of the Shadows, and woke them up.
- That "5" in the name of the show's primary setting is there because there were four other Babylon stations before it, all either destroyed or, in one case, vanished. The actual ancient city of Babylon didn't fare too well either...
- It is emblematic of humans in the series that they stuck with the concept, when another species would have given up, or at least picked a different name.
- Also, since Babylon is the name of the diplomatic project, it becomes a lot simpler to see why the Babylon stations had so many problems. We're outright told that Babylons 1 through 3 were destroyed by terrorist attacks, and 4 was commandeered by Sinclair to battle the Shadows a thousand years ago. 1-3 were destroyed because there were people who were determined to prevent organised diplomacy happening for some reason. In any case, it's rather like the swamp castle in Monty Python's Search For The Holy Grail. The station is seen as a neccesity, so they're gonna keep building stations, and the stations are named after the project.
- According to the fluff, they used surviving parts of the destroyed stations to help build the new ones, implying that B4 had parts of B1-3. Obviously, they didn't think the name was cursed, as they wouldn't have used the parts otherwise.
- Stargate Verse
- Lampshaded on Stargate SG-1 when O'Neill complains about the proposed name for the first X-303, "Prometheus", saying "It's a Greek tragedy, who wants that?" That didn't stop them from choosing the name anyway, though, because "guy who stole fire from the Gods" was too appropriate to pass up when fighting god-wannabes (and using technology stolen from them); the creators lampshaded it further by naming the episode in which it was eventually destroyed after the eagle who tormented mythological Prometheus ("Ethon"). Of course, the main reason he didn't want it called Prometheus was because he wanted to call it the Enterprise.
- McKay also got shut down for that by Sheppard. They went with Orion instead. None of the other named ships appear to match their name origins. Although, that was mainly because the ship's original Ancient name, Hippofaralkus, was universally considered to be kind of lame.
- Interestingly, despite being the same class, only a few Daedalus-class ships have similar themed names. The Daedalus herself, the Odyssey, and the Apollo (even though the Odyssey is the name of the story, not of the character). Other names are all over the place: the Korolev was given to the Russians, who named it after a Soviet rocket designer named Sergei Korolev; the Sun Tzu was given to the Chinese, who named it after a famous general; the George Hammond was originally called the Phoenix (which is, actually, fitting for this trope) but was renamed after General Hammond's death.
- It's not just the humans that get in on it: when the Asgard create a new class of ship (which is apparently a VERY unique occurrence for them) with all the best technology and most powerful weapons they could come up with to fight the Replicators, they name it the O'Neill. O'Neill himself is shocked, but honored. What happens? Its maiden voyage turns into a batshit crazy direct assault on the Replicators, leads them away, and self-destructs to wipe them out in the massive hyperspace explosion. Because the Replicators aren't exactly super-intelligent themselves (yet), they never consider that the logical-to-a-fault Asgard would even hear about the psychotic, outside-the-box thinking strategy proposed by the unique human it was named for, let alone try it.
- The first episode of Stargate Universe features the Icarus Project. Let's just say there's been a little SNAFU. The novelization of the Stargate Universe pilot has O'Neill planning to tear a strip off of whoever came up with the name "Icarus".
- In one episode of Seinfeld, Jerry joked that if you name your kid Jeeves, you are guaranteeing that he'll be a butler when he grows up.
- One skit in That Mitchell and Webb Look features the mad scientist Doctor Death showing his creations to the military. Despite their ominous-sounding names and immediately evident potential for killing people, they were all genuinely created without 'evil' uses in mind.
- More than one character on Firefly has wondered why Mal would name Serenity after the valley where the Browncoats lost a battle and, consequently, the entire war.
- In one episode of Married... with Children Peg got a really good deal on some chicken. The fact that it came from a place called "Chernobyl Farms" really should have set off a red flag. (Actually, the bad case of the runs it gives Al is what gives him the inspiration to build his new bathroom, something he actually manages to do right for a change, more or less.)
- House talks to a patient who apparently tried to kill himself:
"I check this box, you go to the psych ward where your roommates will be Jesus
and Crazypants McLoony Bin.
That guy never had a chance."
- In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., one supervillain is mentioned to have gotten his powers from a project called "Dark Force." It is immediately lampshaded by Coulson, who snarks that "nothing bad ever happens when you're working with something called 'dark force'."
- There's a musician who calls himself Mighty Casey. You've heard of him, right? ...oh.
- There was a Hägar the Horrible strip that featured Hagar looking at a ship Unsinkable II and wondering "What happened to the first one?"
- One FoxTrot strip had Jason submitting an idea to James Cameron for Titantic II about a ship named 'Titanic II', complete with a "They thought it couldn't go wrong again..." narration.
- In Cabin Pressure, Martin makes ends meet by running a moving company called Icarus Removals in the time he can spare from being a volunteer pilot. Douglas helpfully Lampshades the implications of a pilot naming a company after Icarus.
- Changeling: The Lost says that changelings avoid naming their freeholds after myths, legends, or fairy tales for exactly this reason, because the Wyrd sometimes like to make sure the story repeats itself. Mention is made of "the grave fate that befell New Lyonesse."
- Space Hulks in Warhammer 40K are gigantic derelict spaceships adrift in the warp where they occasionally smash into other space hulks. When they emerge back to realspace, the people who find them always give them names like Spawn of Damnation, Judgement of Carrion or Monolith of Woe. Though in this case, they name it expecting bad things inside, like sleeping genestealers, very much awake orks, or daemons.
- Not to mention whatever stellar genius who decided to name many, many Space Marines after mythological demons, evil gods, and other malevolent spirits, and expecting them to not fall to Chaos. I'm looking at you, Erebus.
- One of the most glaring examples: the planet that has had some of the most apocalyptic wars fought over it in the entire setting happens to be named Armageddon.
- BattleTech has several Humongous Mecha with less than promising names. Most telling is the Walking Tank known as the Goliath. It's well-armored and heavily armed, but it's also notoriously hard to maneuver and has the unfortunate tendency to carry a lot of ammo in its main body. Also, the vast majority of its weapons are optimized for long range and firing forward. As a result, it's vulnerable to smaller, faster designs that can close inside its range or move outside of its firing angles to find a weak spot, including a shot to the cockpit in its head.
- In the musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Daisy is about to board a plane, but has a premonition that it will crash. It turns out that the plane had the same name as a boat she had boarded in her previous life that sank.
- The Douglas Adams computer game Starship Titanic.
- While the flying city of Bioshock Infinite is named Columbia, its government codename was... "Project Icarus". This being Bioshock, things go badly there.
- Not to mention the original BioShock. It may not be fitting to name a projected utopian city "Rapture".
- In Knights of the Old Republic II, the ship the Jedi Exile returned to the Republic on (and subsequently gets overrun by Sith assassins) is named the Harbinger.
- In Borderlands, humans are looking for fame and treasures in a legendary vault on a planet named Pandora. Never mind that even before hearing this name most people wouldn't want to spend five minutes on it.
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, there is an item found early in the game called Scroll of Icarian Flight. It gives you 1000 extra jump skill, which both allows you to jump very high and absorbs damage from long falls. The problem? This skill boost only lasts 7 seconds. You won't be able to reach the ground before the scroll wears off.
- To give you more of a hint... you get the scroll off the dead body of a mage, when he lands in front of you from out of nowhere.
- Genre Savvy gamers will use the scroll to leap to the top of a mountain or into a lake.
- Fallout: New Vegas brings us Camp Forlorn Hope — a front-line NCR military outpost on the edge of being overrun by the Legion. About the only way the camp name could be even more conducive to the loss of battles and morale is if it was 'Camp Certain Death.'
- Actually, it's even worse. "Forlorn Hope" is a military term coming from the Dutch "Verloren Hoop", "lost heap", referring to the first wave sent into attack who are pretty much doomed to die. Basically, it's "Camp We Have Reserves".
- In fact, it apparently used to be called Camp Hope. It got the name after things went to hell.
- There is an actual Forlorn Hope Spring in Nevada, and the camp does indeed have a spring running through it. They probably could have picked a nicer name for the spring, though.
- In Solatorobo, the ship Red infiltrates in the Prologue is named the Hindenburg. Of course, by the end of the Prologue, it's lost to a giant monster that suddenly appears in front of it.
- When Hawke is tasked to find out what happened to the workers at a mine near Kirkwall in Dragon Age II, s/he mentions to its owner that his first mistake was naming his mine "The Bone Pit." Subverted in that the owner, Hubert, didn't actually name the mine; the locals did, largely due to the area's grisly history.
- Kid Icarus plays this trope straight... in the non-Japanese title of the series and the overseas title alone. Doesn't stop Pit from getting his wings burnt off twice. Guess fate took a look at that one and said 'eh, close enough'.
- The Kingdom of Zeal named their evil-entity-energy-sucking machine the Mammon Machine. Three guesses what happened to them, and the first two don't count.
- In the original Japanese, the machine was named "majinki", roughly translated as "Demon God Device".
- Metal Gear Solid 3 gave us an espionage mission set during the Cold War, with a trio of spies code-named "ADAM, EVA, and Snake" assigned to the case. Come on, what's the worst that could happen? It's not like one of them could be a traitor or anything... right? In a subversion, though, Snake is the only completely trustworthy agent of the three.
- One of the several major ending spoilers of the game is that when a guy who calls himself Snake askes to see ADAM, it doesn't take a genius for a woman to say her name is EVA and see far it will get her.
- StarCraft has the Goliath: A potent Mini-Mecha, equipped with AA missiles and machine guns, it can do heavy damage to most targets and is fairly durable. If a few of them are alone and are attacked by numerous smaller units, however, their targeting systems are really bad at prioritization. So a few Zerglings, the game's cheapest units, can bring down an expensive and powerful unit a few times their size. Sound familiar?
- In Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green, a man in the Sevii islands enlists the help of the player character to find his lost daughter. Her name? Lostelle.
- Ingress: "It’s called Niantic. Named after some ship that’s buried under San Francisco. The NIA names all their projects after shipwrecks. That should have been my first clue."
- As if it wasn't bad enough to choose to base her design and programming off of the maniacal, human-destroying Mother Brain from the Bad Future, for some reason Balthasar and Lucca of Chrono Cross chose to name the supercomputer in charge of protecting the future and preventing the Day of Lavos from ever happening...FATE. Once thrown into the past by the Time Crash, she initially continues to follow her programming, ensuring the people of El Nido (descendants of Chronopolis' workers) did not interfere with the Zenan mainland and thus change the future...but then through the Records she sets herself up as a goddess, manipulates and experiments upon the people so as to understand life (and eventually become a new sentient lifeform), and once cut off from the Frozen Flame decides as a goddess she is justified in doing anything to regain its power and carry out her mission.
- Alien Legacy gives us two colony ships with dubious names: the UNS Tantalus and the UNS Calypso. Tantalus is a figure in Classical Mythology who killed his son and was being a dick to the gods. His punishment was to be put into Tartarus with food and water nearby that would move out of his reach when he tried to take them (hence the word "tantalizing") and a rock suspended over his head. Why anyone would name a ship carrying one of the last representatives of humanity is unclear. For reference, you play The Captain of the Calypso as it arrives to a system already colonized by the Tantalus. You find only ruins and no trace of the people.
- Calypso is a character from The Odyssey who forcibly keeps Odysseus on her island for many years. Not much better. On the other hand, another meaning of "calypso" is "to conceal", which is appropriate for a ship that is supposed to carry the last humans away from a race of murdering aliens.
- Mega Man X3 has Vile and his new powerful Ride Armor, the Goliath. The fight with him in the armor is...not the most difficult thing you'll face. (The subsequent battle with him once he is out of the armor is a bit more challenging, but...)
- Parodied in Schlock Mercenary, during a conversation between an AI controlled, damaged, semi-kamikaze ship and the central computer.
The rogue: Any last words?
Predictably Damaged V: Make sure you don't skimp on fire extinguishing foam when you build Predictably Damaged VI. Oh and.. [Explodes]
Narrator: Humans would pick a new name after five losses. The rogue appreciates humorous irony too much for that.
- Lampshaded in Two Evil Scientists when Sonic meets Vile:
Sonic: Wait a second here, this guy's name is Vile?
Mega Man X: Yeah!
Sonic: When they named him, were they trying to make a Maverick?
- Happens in Lord Forecastle, one of Erfworld's side stories. The first five paragraphs describe the flagship HMS Superbia commanded by Royal Lord Admiral Hubris Unsinkable setting sail to enemy territory, no one gets to hear about the ship of the admiral again. The succeding flagship gets named HMS Hubris Unsinkable, and the one succeding it HMS Hubris Unsinkable II.
- In Solar System, which takes place in the far future, one character is a dog named Strelka... because you do not want to name a space dog "Laika". She also shoots down another character's suggestion to name a new shuttle "Challenger", reminding him what happened to the original space shuttle Challenger.
- In Short Packed!, Mr. and Mrs. Bean (no, not that one) are fundamentalist christians, and are homophobic. This is much to the disappointment of their lesbian daughter Leslie. Near the end of the comics run, Leslie's fiancee Robin calls then out on this, naming their daughter Leslie Bean. Apparently, it's a family name.
- Used as part of Spoony's spoof of Final Fantasy VIII, where the people of America vote Dr. Insano into the White House. He even lampshades it himself by asking what the hell they expected, voting for a guy who calls himself "Insano".
- SF Debris has a running gag about the naming of ships Icarus that highlights this trope.
- Noob is a about a MMORPG guild named Noob by its founder. Guess what kind of players its membership ended up consisting of.
- On Brows Held High, Kyle Kallgren complains about Melancholia on how NASA names a giant planet that will probably destroy Earth with such a negative name. He even suggests alternatives such as "Happy Fun Ball".
- During one of Vinesauce streamer Joel's The Sims 3 hacking streams, he named the child of his hideous Pikachu-man "Missingno". The face proceeded to become a stream of polygons that engulfed the entire map.
- Futurama had an entire Titanic pastiche. It took place on a space cruise-liner named "Titanic". The spaceship resembled the original Titanic with added sci-fi bits tacked on. Naturally enough, by the end of the episode, it's sucked into a black hole. They even christened the ship with the head jar of Leonardo DiCaprio and he didn't warn them.
- Amusingly, nobody sees anything wrong with the name; after 1,000 years, it's not common knowledge. And when it comes to 20th-Century-born Fry's opinion, he's too much of a dumbass to know any better.
- Of course, none other than Captain Zapp Brannigan is repeatedly Tempting Fate.
Kif Kroker: But that leads us straight through a comet field!
Zapp Brannigan: Ah, yes. Comets, the icebergs of the sky.
- There was also the Land Titanic, the world's largest land vehicle. It sank on 7th Avenue after hitting a mailbox. This took place before the spaceship Titanic, so surely the ones who made the spaceship should have still had suspicions about the name.
- Mixed with Gone Horribly Right, there was "Project Satan", an attempt to create a super-intelligent (but evil) car. What went wrong? Well, the car was pure evil.
- Justified since the whole point of the project was to make the most evil car ever.
- An episode of DuckTales went for the Double Dog-Dare with an airship named the Hindentanic.
- In one episode of Family Guy, Peter jumps up shouting "Quick, to the Petercopter!, and immediately crashes a helicopter with his face on the front lawn of his neighbor Joe. A few scenes later, the situation repeats itself with Peter shouting "To the Hindenpeter!" and all we get to see is a zeppelin with Peter's face passing by through the window with exactly the results you would expect.
"Joe, I am sooo sorry!"
"How can you afford these things?!?"
- Transformers has an in-universe example: the villain of every series, Megatron, is named after the Transformer equivalent of Judas Iscariot, although it varies from series to series whether it's the name he was created with or if he chose it as a symbol of rebellion against a corrupt government. Either way, it somehow still surprises 'bots when he becomes He Who Fights Monsters and ends up more evil than the villains he started out fighting.
- In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Jimmy creates a robotic salesman named the Willy Loman 3000 to sell chocolate bars. To the surprise of no-one who gets the reference, it turns out to be smarmy and incompetent, only capable of making sales by giving away inventions far more valuable than the candies along with them.
- Notably averted in The Seventies Sunday-Morning cartoon Davey and Goliath. Goliath was Davey's talking dog. (Of course, calling them "Samson and Delilah" would probably have worked too, because the two characters here didn't resemble the Biblical ones in the slightest.)
- Also completely averted with Goliath from Gargoyles. It's not his real name (his species doesn't use personal names) but is what humans have always called him. Still, being associated with the name doesn't seem to have caused him any more trouble than any other member of the group. He does end up in conflict with a man named David who is smaller than him, though.
- In an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Pinkie Pie stacks a hundred-odd boulders and names the resulting teetering, loosely-packed amalgamation "the Rock Slide", and she is somehow surprised when it starts collapsing.
- After the success of the movie Titanic, someone tried to build a replica of the famous ship to cater to all the movie fans who wanted to have a romantic ocean cruise on a ship like that. They couldn't find enough investors willing to tempt fate that boldly.
- Then there's the "original" Titanic. What are the original Titans most famous for? For being roundly defeated and sealed into Tartarus once Zeus and company came along, and if they weren't imprisoned, they got lousy fates like holding up the sky for all eternity, or being chained to a rock with an eagle snacking on 'em for all eternity... or being married to Pandora, who released all evil on the world.
- The Titanic sort of is an example in another way. In 1898, a merchant seaman wrote a story called "The Wreck of the Titan", about a giant cruiseliner called the Titan which is meant to be unsinkable, whose passengers include lots of famous and rich people, and on one of whose voyages in its first year of service — yes, across the Atlantic — it hits an iceberg in the middle of the night in April and sinks. And no, there weren't enough lifeboats for the characters in his story either.
- The Titanic was the second of three ships in the Olympic Class, all of which seem to be jinxed:
- The first ship, the Olympic, collided with the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke eight months before the Titanic sank. During her lifetime, people on the Olympic actually were fine, it was the four ships that the Olympic hit that were in trouble. At least one of the collisions was on purpose, though; she sank a German U-Boat during World War I.
- A few weeks after the Titanic sank, crewmen aboard the Olympic tested the collapsable lifeboats on the ship and found that they were all defective. The White Star Line refused to fix the problem, so 54 crewmen mutinied.
- The third ship was supposed to be named the Giganticnote . However, after the sinking of the ship that (supposedly) even God Himself couldn't sink, the White Star Line reconsidered and named it the Britannic. During World War I, it did service as a hospital ship. It sank in 1916 when it hit a mine off the coast of Greece.
- Throughout history, several people appeared to think that calling a car "Phaeton" is a good idea... (For those who don't know their Greek Mythology, Phaëton was the son of the Greek god Helios. He tried to drive his father's sun-chariot, lost control, and had to be shot down by Zeus before he crashed it into the world.) Admittedly, the only case where the unfortunate implication came literally true was the Phaeton carriage popular during The Regency, which was famous for its speed and its ability to get its drivers and random pedestrians killed.
- The most recent example would be VW's expensive luxury car from 2003. Even though the brand is mostly known for its small economy cars, and the company also owns the Audi brand, which is actually a well known brand for large luxury cars. Unsurprisingly, the whole thing bombed because nobody who could afford one wanted to be seen in a VW.
- Icarus. It was a bus — not very likely to melt down, but as for the "flying too far" part, bendy bus variants sometimes got nasty skidding (when not driven carefully).
- Contrary to what one might expect, they still manufacture them. Thankfully, they didn't try their hands in building airplanes.
- An-22 "Anteus". The Soviet transport plane named (in a fit of black humor?) after the giant who lost his strength when he was lifted from the ground.
- Its NATO reporting name is just plain insulting. It's "Cock." Though at least that's something well-known for rising.
- It doubles as a stealth insult, considering the other kind of "cock" can't exactly fly.
- One of the scientists working on the design of this plane said the name was chosen because it really did "take its power from the land", since refueling occurs, you know, on land.
- It couldn't refuel mid-air or on an aircraft carrier because the An-22 was the world's heaviest aircraft until the arrival of the C-5 Galaxy and the larger An-124. An aircraft carrier large enough to handle it would be more strictly termed "an island".
- Various world navies have named their ships after losing battles or even past ships that have been destroyed (possibly as a way to say "never forget").
- During World War II, it was also a means of psychological warfare — when the Japanese sank a carrier, the US would generally name a replacement after the destroyed ship to keep the Japanese guessing about US repair and refit capacity.
- The US Navy ships USS Bunker Hill were all named after a battle the US lost.
- Almost as bad were the Kidd class destroyers, informally nicknamed the "Dead Admiral class". All four were named for USN admirals killed in action during World War II, and two of them were killed in the same battle. Less odd when you consider that all USN destroyers are named after fallen military personnel, but perhaps slightly moreso when you consider the Kidd destroyers were designed as Anti-Air platforms, and two of four ships are named for Admirals who died in air attacks...note
- Oddly enough, all of the aforementioned USN ships have had long and honorable careers.
- The UK ship HMS Ark Royal was sunk in WWII; several design flaws were found to have contributed to the loss. This hasn't prevented the UK from naming two other ships the same name since; one was an Invincible class aircraft carrier.
- Although none of the other Ark Royals were lost in action and the very first one was the English flagship in the victorious battle against the Spanish Armada in 1588. And while most of the crew got off the World War 2 Ark Royal unhurt, the previous HMS Invincible, a battlecruiser, had an even more noticeable design flaw and blew up at Jutland with the loss of nearly the entire crew (there were just six survivors).
- To add another layer to this, the commander of the Invincible was Admiral Hood, and there was an HMS Hood that was obliterated by the Nazi battleship Bismarck. However, in this case, it's a subversion: HMS Hood wasn't named for that particular Admiral Hood.
- The British Royal Navy has had four ships named "Icarus", starting in 1814, and all of them continuing through their careers without serious problems. The fourth Icarus was an I-class destroyer, launched in 1936 and which participated for the duration of the Second World War, sinking four German U-Boats. It was decommissioned in 1946 and torn up for scrap in Scotland.
- The pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee was named after a German admiral killed in the South Atlantic during a battle in the first year of World War One in which the cruiser squadron he commanded was annihilated. (The flagship of the victorious British fleet: the battlecruiser HMS Invincible). It came to grief in the battle of the River Plate in the South Atlantic in the first year of World War II.
- The Imperial German Navy and the Federal German Navy had a total of four ships called Vineta, after a mythical coastal town that famously sank beneath the waves of the Baltic Sea. Almost as ominous as naming a ship or other kind of vessel Atlantis...
- The current flagship of the Italian Navy is the Cavour, named after Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, one of the fathers of Italian unity. A good name... Except the only other Italian warship with the same namesake was the RN Conte di Cavour, which, after a calm career in World War I and one as glorified royal yatch between the war, was sank by airplanes while in harbour, twice . With the first sinking inspiring the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour (both done by carrier-launched torpedo planes in harbours deemed too shallow for air-launched torpedoes). And, to tempt fate even more, the modern Cavour is a carrier.
- The Soviets named a battleship which they inherited from the Russian Empire after a French revolutionary who was killed in a bathtub. It was sunk (not permanently) three months after the Germans attacked.
- The US Navy has a slightly morbid tradition of naming submarine classes for ships that sank (or at least it did before it decided to name them after states, cities, and sea monsters).note This could be considered an attempt to turn this trope to a positive end: after all, you want a submarine to go underwater.
- There seem to be a disturbingly large number of sports teams names after the residents of Troy...
- Although according to Roman myth, the Trojan survivors became the first Romans. The same Romans who, in Real Life, built one of the largest empires in history and, notably, conquered Greece. So it could be seen as defeat just makes them come back stronger...
- In at least one case (the University of Southern California), this is deliberate: the nickname was coined during a sporting match where the unlucky Trojans-to-be were getting slaughtered, but still kept struggling valiantly on.
- Further, naming a brand of condoms after a city that was famously impregnated seems to be asking for trouble.
- Man names boat Titanic II; sinks before leaving harbour.
- There's a famous image around the net of the speedboat "Temporary Insanity II"◊. He should have known better after the first time.
- Although the car achieved commercial success, the AMC Gremlin has got to be a Tempting Fate honorable mention.
- The Hellenic Air Force Academy logo features Icarus.
- The Royal Air Force's roundel is a bullseye. It only gets worse with the Royal New Zealand Air Force's roundel, which is a bullseye centered on a Kiwi, a type of flightless bird. Potentially borders on I Shall Taunt You.
- The UK has a series of military satellites called Skynet of all things; however, they can be excused for starting the series and coming up with the name long before James Cameron started work on The Terminator.
- The Tampa International Airport's parking garage has elevators named after various heroes of aviation... and Amelia Earhart.
- Apollo 13 (and since then NASA has never launched a vehicle with "13" in the name — during the Shuttle program they changed the mission numbering system after STS-9, and then changed it back after the loss of the Challenger).
- STS-113 flew without major incident, but due to schedule changes it was actually the 112th Shuttle mission. The next flight, the 113th, was STS-107, when the Columbia was lost.
- There's an urban legend in the British Royal Navy that says the Admiralty decided to disprove one of the Navy's most cherished superstitions, namely that Friday is an unlucky day to set sail. Not only did they christen a ship HMS Friday, but they had her keel laid on a Friday, and she was commanded by a Captain Friday. The myth continues that the ship disappeared without a trace during the shakedown cruise.
- There's a comforter set called the Othello. Presumably the intention was to name it after the game rather than the original play, and for those that don't know, the climax involves Othello smothering his wife to death in their bed after being thoroughly hoodwinked by his smarmy, deceptive, ambitious flagbearer.
- There's also a set of bedroom furniture aimed at little girls. The name of the set? Lolita.
- Speaking of Lolita, Nabokov has claimed that he's singlehandedly responsible for the disappearance of Lolita as a girl's name, averting this trope.
- In a very similar vein, Adolf was a somewhat common name in the German-speaking world up until it fell out of popularity for some strange reason in the thirties/forties.
- Following a decade of managerial complications and enormous financial loss following its "merger of equals" with Chrysler, Daimler AG decided in 2007 to sell the company to a certain Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.
- Speaking of Chrysler, the company had the brilliant idea to introduce a sport utility vehicle called the Aspen (a rebodied Dodge Durango) in 2007. Apparently, they forgot that the Dodge Aspen was not one of the company's best received cars. The Chrysler Aspen was discontinued in 2009.
- Fury was an experimental steam locomotive designed to run on high-pressure steam. True to its name, Fury's high pressure caused its tubes to burst and kill the engineer.
- For a twofer, there's a Japanese company called Cyberdyne, whose most famous project is a powered exoskeleton, but they thankfully decided not to name it T-101... they named it HAL instead (Hybrid Assistive Limb).
- Windows-NT has an important file containing the standard drivers that the kernel needs to work (the first file loaded by the bootloader), similar to the IO.SYS on DOS. How is it called ? HAL.DLL - Hardware Abstraction Layer.
- If somewhere in time mankind would travel to other planets or their moons this trope may be invoked with the gods the planets are named after. Mars - the god of war; Saturn - the maneating Eldritch Abomination; Pluto - the god of the Underworld... . It gets even nastier if you look at the names of some moons. Pluto's moon Charon - the ferryman of the dead. Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos are the gods of horror and terror. To be fair, the more visible planets were dubbed in times when they were really assumed to be gods and the other ones were simply keeping up the tradition.
- USS Harold E. Holt. Why? it was named after an Australian Prime Minister who famously disappeared at sea.
- One Australian tribute to Harold Holt is similarly poorly thought out, albeit, presumably, deliberately so. It's located in the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris, and it's a swimming pool. Named after a guy who's presumed drowned.
- During World War II, the primary aerial torpedo used by the US Navy was the Mark 13, which was infamous for its finicky and unreliable nature. It had to be dropped from low altitude at low speed in level flight, often against a heavily defended enemy ship, and once dropped, there was no guarantee that the torpedo wouldn't break up, sink, porpoise about randomly on the surface, drift wildly off target or sail in circles, etc. Even worse, it wasn't at all unheard of for a Mark 13 to be successfully deployed, only for it to hit the target square on and do nothing, because hitting the target directly would damage the trigger instead of setting it off. Other American torpedoes of the time, designed for launch from submarines and surface warships, were little betternote All of these problems were corrected in later versions after a few months of experience, leading to a much more effective weapon.
- Comedian Paul McDermott joked that the Australian Navy's expensive and problematical Collins-class submarines "were actually named after singer Phil Collins - because they're crap, but very popular."
- The Chevy Nova was said to have sold poorly in Spanish speaking countries as the Spanish phrase "no va" means "doesn't go". As snopes.com explains, this is pure myth— not only would a spanish speaker not read "Nova" as "no va" any more than an English speaker would read "Notable" as "no table" (and that's assuming they don't know enough Latin to catch on that it's supposed to mean "new"), the Nova sold just fine in Latin America.
- Brown University's "Sex Power God" party was started 28 years ago, and actually survived for two decades without a hitch while maintaining the school's free-spirited identity. In recent years, however, the name has caused it to degenerate, so much that it was cancelled in 2014. As one of the original organizers said, "Calling the dance Sex Power God was a liberationist act, a f*** you to those who thought sex, power or god belonged to them not us, and a good joke." As the story shows, it's become anything but.