Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Non Indicative Name: Film
  • Alexander Payne has a habit with this. Notably Sideways doesn't have a lot to do with being sideways, The Descendants isn't really overly concerned with the the fact that the leads are descended from King Kamehameha.
  • The film version of Watchmen does include a superhero team called "The Watchmen" (unlike the graphic novel) but they aren't the protagonists of the film—they were a proposed team that was never actually formed. All of the main characters are independent vigilantes with no allegiance to any team, and (apart from Rorschach and Nite Owl) none of them ever fought crime together.
  • In Batman Returns there's no indication whatsoever that Batman has been absent from Gotham for an extended period of time nor does he at any point in the film make a grand return of any sort. The title is apparently a reference to the fact that Batman has "returned" to star in another movie.
  • Batman Forever has the Nygma Tech Box. It looks like a blender with fins, and it's not boxlike at all.
  • In Iron Man, Stark's first seemed to be mostly scrap iron, but his final is more advanced. He lampshades the trope when he first sees the media nickname:
    Tony Stark: Iron Man? That's kinda catchy. Not technically accurate, since it's a gold-titanium alloy, but...
  • The weapon in Krull is identified as "The Glaive". It isn't a curved-blade polearm, but rather a starfish-shaped throwing weapon. Even if you take the older meaning of "glaive" as "sword" it doesn't fit. Due to the film's popularity, a number of other works have named similar weapons "glaives," such as Warcraft and Blade The Series.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events features the Incredibly Deadly Viper—not so incredibly deadly. Justified because it was intentional by Uncle Monty in order to scare the rest of his colleagues as revenge for all their mocking of his name.
  • In Dr. Dolittle, Rodney the guinea pig ponders how he came to that name, since he's not a pig, not from Africa, and not an Italian "guinea".
  • Troll 2 is about goblins, not trolls, and is not a sequel to Troll. Furthermore, there are two different films that go by the title Troll 3; neither of them are about trolls and neither of them are sequels to either Troll or Troll 2.
  • The word "Gojira" is a portmanteau of "kujira" (whale) and gorilla. Early on in the production, they hadn't decided what Godzlla was going to look like, and the pretty cool name for one scrapped design was eventually combined with a different, really cool design...of a lizard.
  • Toho's Latitude Zero features a monster named Black Moth. Take a wild guess what the monster is. Go on... Give up? It's a flying lion/eagle hybrid.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean
    • The Nine Pieces of Eight from "At World's End" are not coins, but random pieces of junk. This is lampshaded and justified in-universe: they used random piece of junk because the founding pirates were flat broke, and called them "Pieces of Eight" because they thought it sounded more pirate-y than "Pieces of Whatever We Happened to Have in our Pockets At The Time."
    • The Flying Dutchman, which, unlike in the original legend, does not move through the air, and is not Dutch. Its captain is a Welshman with a Scots accent. Flying in those days, meant fast as often as it meant moving through the air (and very occasionally still does, in phrases such as "flying start"). The equivalent today would be "Racing Dutchman."
  • In Mystery Men
    • The Blue Raja's costume consisted of almost every color except blue! There's also the issue with his British accent instead of an Indian one. But apparently, that has more to do with people not knowing the history of India and the British occupation... blah, blah, blah.
    • Then there's also The Spleen, who named himself after a body part that has nothing to do with his superpower. It may be a play on the saying "Vent your spleen", where you generally let loose with a rather noxious rant. And The Spleen does vent something quite noxious when he uses his power.
  • Star Wars.
    • The Battle of Endor took place on the forest moon of Endor (which is a gas giant). The Battle of Yavin is slightly better, but not much—it takes place near Yavin IV, which is actually only a moon of the gas giant Yavin.
    • Many weapons use terminology that is not specifically correct. For example, lightsabers aren't shaped like sabers. There are also blaster rifles, which don't have any rifling. Turbolasers do not fire true lasers. Ignoring the inherent pseudoscience of the futuristic weaponry, new weapons often sport names that are based on older technology, such as "howitzer" being based after the Czech word for sling.
    • Star Destroyers can neither destroy stars nor qualify as equivalents of naval destroyers, given their sheer size and firepower compared to Rebel ships. They're more akin to battleships or aircraft carriers. Super Star Destroyers are much larger, but still can't destroy stars. Then again, in modern times, Destroyers are typically the most powerful surface combat ships in any navy.
    • Jedi Knights are really more like warrior monks than they are knights. Unlike traditional knights in the real world, their status is not bestowed by a king or ruler; Jedi are an insular society unto themselves. Nor do they employ titles such as "sir". They also don't own much in the way of personal possessions or property, both of which lords may reward knights for loyalty. Also, knights were very much part of a royal's court, unlike Jedi who were not supposed to be involved in politics. Real knights served the wishes of their lord, lady, or monarch. Jedi do exist to serve, but they serve of their own accord and in whatever way they see fit. They are not really at anyone's beck and call and all VI Ps of the Old Republic know that.
  • In the movie Revolver, none of the guns are revolvers, and nothing rotates. It's, like, a deep metaphor, ya know?
  • In the second Kill Bill movie, Bill comments that there weren't 88 members of the Crazy 88; they just called themselves that "because it sounded cool."
  • This exchange in True Lies:
    Faisil: They call him the "Sand Spider".
    Trilby: Why?
    Faisil: Probably because it sounds scary.
  • Zombi 2 (known in America as Zombie, known in some other places as Zombie Flesh Eaters) is not the second "Zombi" film, it's the first in its series. Romero's Dawn of the Dead was released in Europe under the title Zombi, and Italian director Lucio Fulci decided to capitalize on its success by claiming that his film was actually a sequel or prequel. Which it wasn't.
  • Zombie Holocaust was released in some places under the title Zombi3, trying to do to Fulci what Fulci did to Romero. In other places, including America, it was released under the title Dr. Butcher M.D., Medical Deviate. There isn't a character named Dr. Butcher in the film, and the evil Doctor character only shows up in the finale of the film. Even the titles Zombi 3 D and Zombie Holocaust are rather inaccurate- the film is predominantly about LIVING cannibals, while zombies only show up for small portions of the tale.
  • Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror only took place over the course of one night.
  • In Abbott and Costello Go to Mars, Abbott and Costello go ... to Venus. They were supposed to go to Mars, however.
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Apparently Chick Young and Wilbur Gray Meet Dracula, The Wolfman, and Frankenstein's Monster just wasn't a catchy enough title.
  • Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory. The werewolf never actually gets into the dormitory. He mostly just wanders around the grounds.
  • Krakatoa, East of Java. Krakatoa is, in fact, West of Java, but they wanted a more exotic-sounding title.
  • There are three unrelated films called Madhouse, only one of which is actually set in a mental institution. The 1990 John Larroquette and Kirstie Alley film is about a house being overrun by uninvited guests that could figuratively be called a "madhouse". In the 1974 Vincent Price film, it's a plot point that Price's character was once in a mental institution, but no scenes actually take place there. The Vincent Price one was originally going to be called The Revenge Of Dr. Death or The Return of Dr. Death, both of which would have been more descriptive of the plot, but the producers thought it would be mistaken for a sequel; It didn't help that there had been a recent film called Dr. Death, Seeker of Souls either.
  • Flash Gordon does not, in fact, conquer the universe in the serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe.
  • Frankenstein does not conquer the world in Frankenstein Conquers The World.
  • Santa does not in fact, conquer any Martians, at least not in the traditional sense in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
  • Teenage Zombies doesn't feature any zombies, and has a cast of "teenagers" that look to be days away from a midlife crisis.
  • The Man With Two Heads only has one head. It's an adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Legend of the Dinosaurs doesn't technically feature any dinosaurs, only a plesiosaur and a pterosaur.
  • The classic Frank Capra romantic comedy It Happened One Night takes place over several nights, and no one of them is more significant to the plot than any other.
  • Fargo has one scene set in Fargo, North Dakota. The rest of it takes place in Minnesota.
  • In Chinatown, only the very last scene takes place in that neighborhood of Los Angeles. However, Gittes does use Chinatown as a metaphor a few times.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant initially assumes (logically enough) that Jessica Rabbit, married to the eponymous hero, is in fact a rabbit. Then he sees her, and discovers that she certainly isn't. Oh no.
  • National Treasure: Book of Secrets actually centers on finding a lost city of gold. The Book of Secrets is only a single road sign on the way to it. To put things in perspective, this is like giving the first movie the subtitle of "Ben Franklin's Letters".
  • Bobby Fischer never appears in Searching for Bobby Fischer. In fact, nobody really searches for him in the film. Searching for the Next Bobby Fischer would have been a more accurate title.
  • Haunted Honeymoon: The characters are not on their honeymoon. They are not even married yet.
  • The Dead Are Alive does not feature any undead, despite all the film's advertising trying to convince viewers otherwise. The film actually is a proto-Giallo with characters being offed by a very human killer. In fact, the main character specifically dismisses the possibility of the dead being alive within the first 15 minutes of the movie. Its Italian title translates as "The Etruscan Kills Again", which is equally inaccurate.
  • Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector. Is he a cable guy or a health inspector?
  • In Love and Death, Old Nehampkin is younger than Young Nehampkin. Woody Allen's character lampshades it while delirious later in the movie.
  • Frankenstein's Bloody Terror is about...werewolves. Fighting vampires. This is actually Handwaved in the prologue, which explains that the family of werewolves that in the film is actually descended from the Frankenstein family. The reasons behind the title change are more interesting than the actual film. The US distributor promised theaters a Frankenstein picture, but ran out of money midway through production. In desperation, they acquired the rights to an unrelated Spanish picture called Mark of the Wolfman, added the aforementioned prologue, and released it hoping that no one would notice.
  • The Evil of Frankenstein is actually the Hammer Frankenstein film that depicts Baron Frankenstien (as usual played by Peter Cushing) as somewhat sympathetic. He's more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist in an unsupportive world that just thinks that all Science is the work of the Devil. The truly evil character is Zoltan, the hypnotist who tries to use the monster for his own murderous purposes.
  • Guess what doesn't happen in Toga Party.
  • Meatcleaver Massacre has nary a meat cleaver in sight.
  • At no point during Help Me, I'm Possessed is anyone possessed.
  • When American International Pictures picked up Jess Franco's Witch Hunt opus The Bloody Judge for American distribution, they re-titled it as Night of the Blood Monster and printed up posters featuring a suitably horrific "Blood Monster" that naturally never appears in the movie itself.
  • Future War. Take a wild guess as to whether or not it takes place in the future. Now take another wild guess as to whether or not it's about a war.
  • There are no mentions of any prophecies in Prophecy.
  • Blue Monkey was originally titled Green Monkey, even though there's no monkey of either color in the film.
  • In both House of the Dead movies, the first one has a house that's actually a small shack, while the second has an entire college campus.
  • Clash of the Titans does not in fact involve any Titans, clashing or otherwise. Their existence is acknowledged in the backstory, but by the time the plot starts they've all been defeated. Though it incorrectly refers to a Gorgon's head being used to fight a sea monster as "a titan against another titan."
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, the dragon Toothless has teeth. Being retractable, they're mostly hidden, and show up when he eats or attacks. Hiccup's father Stoick is not The Stoic. And Hiccup never gets hiccups (though in the series it's explained that runts are named Hiccup.)
  • The doctor in The Blood Waters of Dr. Z does not have a Z anywhere in his last name.
  • There are no zombies in Zombie Island Massacre.
  • At the end of The Night The World Exploded, the Earth remains intact and unexploded.
  • There are no dinosaurs (or any other prehistoric beasts, for that matter) in Massacre In Dinosaur Valley.
  • The Pink Panther movies are not about a feline. The "Pink Panther" is a diamond that plays a major role in some, but not all, of the films. The cartoon panther that originally appeared in the first film's credits, also called The Pink Panther, took on a life of its own as a film and TV cartoon character and advertising mascot.
  • Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) actually takes place in "Precinct 9, Division 13." The title was chosen by the film's distributor, who basically thought "Precinct 13" sounded cool and ominous.
  • At no point in the Alone in the Dark (2005), are any of the characters ever alone in the dark. They are either with someone else at the time, or they are not in the dark. The film was based on a video game in which the player character is alone in a haunted house.
  • Naked Lunch, "I can think of at least two things wrong with that title".
  • The Barbarian Invasions is not a Conan the Barbarian-ripoff, but a story about French Canadian intellectuals talking about sex, aging and politics. Its predecessor The Decline of the American Empire is, well, more of the same.
  • The Swedish movie November 30 actually takes place around June 6 the National Day of Sweden. The title comes from the fact that it's theme is Neo-nazism and November 30 is a date when Swedish neo-Nazis often march to commemorate the death of king Charles XII.
  • Witchfinder General was also released as The Conqueror Worm despite having little to do with the Edgar Allan Poe poem, although a portion of it is recited toward the movie's end. Vincent Price was in it, so presumably it was titled that way to attract fans of all the Roger Corman-directed Poe adaptations he'd starred in.
  • Mr. Green in Clue. All of the other guests have Meaningful Names that reflect their appearance or attire, but Mr. Green does not wear green or have green eyes or hair. In some versions of the film, he's under an assumed identity, and therefore a "plant."
  • The sequel to The Blair Witch Project was called "Book of Shadows", even though there was no such mention of any Book of Shadows in the film.
  • Musa, called The Warrior in English, is not about one specific warrior. It has an ensemble cast, with three characters that more or less share the main spotlight.
  • The Terry Gilliam movie Brazil does not have a single scene set in Brazil, nor is the country relevant to the plot in any way or even mentioned once. Its only significance is that an old song titled "Brazil" is played throughout, perhaps because its romantic imagery provides a thematic counterpoint to the bureaucratic police state in which the story takes place.
    • Michael Palin made Brazil with Michael Palin in 2012. It could conceivably be misleading for anyone familiar with the film but unaware that Palin has been making travel series since the 80s.
  • In Airheads, Chazz's rock band has three members and is called The Lone Rangers. Ian the DJ points out that they would more accurately be called The Three Rangers.
  • The Room is not about a room. It does have a great many scenes taking place in Johnny's apartment, but it is not the focus of the film at all. If you take director/writer/star Tommy Wiseau's word for it, it's about Johnny's Happy Place, but even that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
  • Rain Man is not about a man who is associated in any way with rain. "Rain Man" was what Charlie called Raymond when he was a little kid when he misremembered Raymond as an Imaginary friend named Rain Man
  • The Hong Kong film Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai is known as Election 2 in English. It isn't a sequel to the American film Election or any other film. The American release fixed this by naming the film Triad Election.
  • Ain't no ghosts in Ghost World.
  • Pans Labyrinth. The faun is never referred to as "Pan" in the film. The Spanish language version of the title translates to "The Labyrinth of the Faun."
  • The titular vengeance demon of the Pumpkinhead series does not actually have a pumpkin for a head.
  • The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia is not set in Connecticut, but it is in Georgia.
  • The Wackiest Ship In The Army, where do we even start?
  • A Teenage Opera, a late-1960s movie which spent a few years in Development Hell before finally being scrapped, wasn't an opera (though it was a musical) and had few if any teenage characters.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day does not take place on or anywhere near Judgment Day, ending with it seemingly prevented two to three years before it was supposed to happen. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines on the other hand...
  • In the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid, there is still a kid, but he does not do any karate. It's set in China, so he learns kung fu instead.
  • At no point during Trainspotting do the characters watch trains. The title has more relevance in the original novel, however. It's alluded to in one of the trailers as well, but in a way that has nothing to do with either the the book ''or'' the film.
  • The 1994 Cher film Mermaids has nothing to do with mermaids at all.
  • For MST3K fans, Pod People. As Dr. Forrester says, "It has nothing to do with pods... it has nothing to do with people... it has EVERYTHING to do with hurting."
  • The Mexican is not any person from Mexico. It's a gun from Mexico.
  • The Princess And The Warrior is about a modern-day nurse and a former soldier turned thief.
  • Woody Allen's movie Bananas doesn't have any bananas in it. In an interview, Allen admitted he gave it that title for that very reason.
  • It Conquered the World: It didn't even conquer a small town.
  • A Justified Trope in Godzilla (2014). M.U.T.O. stands for "Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism," and it originally described the so-labeled beast pretty well. However, the label became obsolete with a recent development, in which Stenz describes the creature as "no longer terrestrial" in movement. It still applies to the female one, however.
  • Sorcerer isn't about a sorcerer. It's about truck drivers transporting nitroglycerin in a truck named Sorcerer.
  • X-Men:
  • Snatch: The man known as Boris the Blade, Boris the Bullet-dodger and Boris the Sneaky Fucking Russian is an Uzbekistanian who prefers to fight with guns and doesn't so much dodge bullets as absorb them.
  • 300: Rise of an Empire only features one of the original 300.
  • Bringing Up Baby is a misleading movie title. Who would have thought Baby was a leopard. And the story has little to do with any bringing up.
  • Surveillance doesn't feature surveillance.
  • No one wakes up screaming in I Wake Up Screaming.
  • The protagonist of Big Daddy is neither big (he's average-sized at best), nor a daddy (well, not until the final scene, at least). And at no point does he ever hold a position of authority over others, which is what the metaphorical "Big Daddy" refers to.
  • Averted by Beetlejuice. The title character is not a beetle (though he briefly transforms himself into one) and has nothing to do with juice. In fact, technically speaking, "Beetlejuice" isn't even his name; he is known officially as "Betelgeuse" (actually the name of a star in the constellation Orion, which apparently has nothing to do with the film, making it in itself an example!), and "Beetlejuice" is simply a folk etymology (phonetic rendering) of the true spelling. That said, Betelgeuse does eat a raw beetle (well, a cockroach, but why nitpick?) for a snack, and when he bit into it he presumably swallowed a good portion of the bug's "juice."
  • The 1958 film It: The Terror From Beyond Space. Needless to say, a monster that comes from Mars is not from "beyond space".
  • Volcano has no volcano in it. Rather, it has a lava vent issuing magma, and... that's it.
  • High School Musical 2 has nothing to do with a high school musical. In fact, the movie takes place summer vacation.
  • Swing Parade of 1946. At no point does a "Swing Parade" actually occur. Much to the consternation of the RiffTrax crew. In fact, very little, if any, of the music in the film is swing to begin with, most of it being more general big-band standards or light musical ballads. The only swing actually in the movie is provided by Louis Jordan and his band, and if you were watching the film in 1946 in the south or other places where laws or customs dictated the excising of blacks from films unless they were servants or Pullman porters you were pretty much out of luck.
Fan FicsNon-Indicative NameLiterature

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy