Fan Nickname: Fans tend to capitalize "They" when the pronoun is used in reference to the band.
Hollywood New England: Both Johns are originally from outside of Boston, so they both will slip into the accent on occasion in songs. Linnell most blatantly does it in "A Self Called Nowhere" and "Wicked Little Critta."
Missing Episode: One of the first music videos that the band made was a video for the song "Rabid Child" that was never released to the public.
The band has done two different songs with the name "She Was A Hotel Detective" that have nothing to do with each other except the title and being TMBG songs. The version on the first album is "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" and the version on the Back To Skull EP is "She Was A Hotel Detective" (note the lack of parentheses). They also did a third song with a callback title, "She Was A Hotel Detective In The Future."
They also have the occasional song that has the same title as a song by another artist. Sometimes this has been deliberate ("Welcome to the Jungle", "Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love"—previously used by Mahavishnu Orchestra). Other times it's been accidental. They weren't aware that The Beach Boys had already done a song called "Santa's Beard" when they wrote and recorded theirs.
No-Hit Wonder: Never hit the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, though they scored hits in the UK and Australia. They also didn't have a Top 40 album until Join Us in 2011, 25 years after their debut album.
They don't believe the album version of "She's Actual Size" stands up so well anymore, especially compared to the live versions they've performed since then.
The music video for "Rabid Child," which was never shown publicly (outside of a brief clip) and the Johns won't even discuss. No one is exactly sure why, as it seemingly consists of little more than Flans lip-synching the song while standing in his apartment.
Real Life Writes the Plot: An attempt to politely avert it. As they were coming up on the end of filming the documentary Gigantic: A Take of Two Johns one of the last scenes was a show for their new album, "Mink Car", which was at 11:30pm on September 10th, 2001 in New York City. On the DVD Commentary they say they had a rough time figuring out what to do - 9/11 wasn't important to the story so to mention it would be "cashing in" on it, but to not mention it when it affected the lives of those presentnote one attendee actually stayed near the World Trade Center and was evacuated from their hotel room the next morning. They were uninjured, but they lost all their belongings from the room would also be rude. A compromise was made to simply have a Title Card listing the date, letting astute viewers make the connection, but leaving 9/11 intentionally Out of Focus.
Science Marches On: Scientists used to think that the sun was a mass of incandescent gas (as in "Why Does the Sun Shine?"), but now scientists believe that it's better described as a miasma of incandescent plasma. So just to be safe, TMBG wrote another song, called "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?"
Shrug of God: The band doesn't often confirm or deny theories about a given song. An example: when asked what their first single "Don't Let's Start" was about, they responded that it was "about not let's starting". In 2015 Linnell admitted he doesn't remember what he was trying to get across at the time.
Their children's albums No!, Here Come The ABCs, Here Come The 123s, Here Comes Science, and Why?. There's an EP that goes with the book Bed Bed Bed, the title track later reworked for No!.
Subverted when the puppets made for Here Comes the ABCs and 123s were used for a video of their cover of "The Long Grift" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The puppets have also been used for a very child-unfriendly song in a few live performances. The title? "Puppet's Gonna Fuck You Up".
A couple of the songs also have this going on. The version of "Four Of Two" that you hear on No! is much more child-friendly than the original, and "Robot Parade" plays with the trope with a Heavy Metal version called "Robot Parade (Adult Version)" that has the exact same lyrics.
The Dial-A-Song exclusive "Tumbleweed" was written for use in Recess: School's Out, but got replaced with "One" by Three Dog Night for the final film.
They Might Be Giants were supposed to write an entire movie's worth of songs for the film version of Coraline, but this plan was scrapped early in development. Before TMBG were removed from the project, they completed one song, "Careful What You Pack", which was released a year later. The final version of the film did retain one musical number, "Other Father's Song", though TMBG didn't write it—it was a scratch track the band liked too much to replace, and John Linnell sings it in the finished film.
Joe Strummer was supposed to sing the bridge of "Cyclops Rock", but he was unavailable for some reason, so the band instead settled on Cerys Matthews, singer for Welsh indie band Catatonia because she just so happened to be in the same studio at the time.
Elvis Costello was apparently supposed to produce Apollo 18 at an early stage. The Johns disapproved due to thinking they'd earned the chance to produce it themselves and to the tension that would occur from working with a hero of theirs.
Flansburgh's then-girlfriend (who sang on "Boat Of Car") was supposed to appear on "The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)," but wasn't available for the recording, so instead they got Laura Cantrell.
Four songs, titled "Dawn Divine", "Stalker In Reverse", "Prepare", and "Lucky You", were recorded for Nanobots, but scrapped before the album's release. Only one ("Prepare") has been released as of now, as a Dial-A-Song exclusive in 2015. Little about the other songs is known, except that Dawn Divine was to feature Mike Doughty.