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Artifact Title / Western Animation

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  • Cartoon Network was this trope for a number of years, when both it and sister channel/programming block [adult swim] began putting more emphasis on live action programming in 2007. Cartoon Network ultimately came to avert the trope however, abandoning live-action completely in early 2014 after numerous failures.note 
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  • Netflix's Castlevania (2017) sort of fits this trope as, unlike most games in the franchise, not much of the action takes place in Dracula's castle until the thrilling second to last episode of season 2, which makes the wait worth it. It can be argued, however, that the title remains relevant because we see the villains plotting and scheming on the castle and its surroundings throughout the show.
  • The later Van Beuren Studios Aesop's Fables sound cartoons, which abandoned the format of the silent shorts (which were somewhat based on the actual fables and had "Aesops" at the end of each one) in favor of the musical gag cartoon format.
  • The title of the Alf animated series is technically a sort of reverse-artifact; since the show is a prequel that takes place before Alf comes to Earth, Alf is only ever called by his actual name, Gordon, and not an acronym for "Alien Life Form."
  • In a sense this has happened twice with Aqua Teen Hunger Force. In the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode they originated in, they were a team of mascots for a corporate food chain that Space Ghost sold out to so he could buy a boat. When the spin-off series was made, the characters were heavily changed, the corporate mascot part was dropped, and they were made a detective agency just to have a premise to give to executives rather than calling it a show about food people just... doing stuff. That at least made them a force, but when the detective work was inevitably dropped from the plot, they weren't even that.
    • This was always fully acknowledged; [adult swim] included bumps stating the following;
    First off, they aren't teens. And there is no water involved. And that whole "Hunger Force" thing? That's probably misleading, too.
    • With the yearly re-titling of the show between the 8th and 11th seasons, this does not apply as much. The 10th season of the series is titled Aqua TV Show Show, for example.
    • Although technically, the trio are still heavily involved with water: Carl's pool.
  • Ben 10 somewhat qualifies for this. The "10" part of the title was originally derived from how protagonist Ben could turn into 10 different aliens using the Omnitrix and - to a much lesser extent - his age. Naturally, more alien forms were eventually discovered, the three Sequel Series prior to the 2016 reboot aged him up to a teenager. However, Ben's last name happens to be Tennyson, allowing the name to still make some sense.
  • The Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs TV series takes place between the first movie's prologue and Flint actually inventing the FLDSMDFR, the device that causes it to rain food.
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  • Dexter's Laboratory. The titular laboratory is absent in many episodes in the last seasons. For example, the last episode is all about Dee Dee going nuts over an ostrich in a zoo.
  • The Disney Princess franchise now includes Mulan, who is neither a princess by birth nor marriage. And to add further irony, not all the princesses are included in the line-up (Princess Eilonwy, anyone?)
  • In Gargoyles, the recurring antagonist "Coyote" is an in-universe example. He got his name because he was originally a Ridiculously Human Robot who disguised himself as David Xanatos and styled himself as the sixth member of "The Pack", an animal-themed group that already included a "Fox", "Wolf", "Hyena", "Jackal" and "Dingo". He eventually ditched the human disguise and abandoned the Pack to serve as Xanatos' henchman full-time, but he never stopped calling himself "Coyote". note 
  • HiT Entertainment actually started out with an Artifact Title. The initials "H I T" originally stood for Henson International Television. During the first round of talks between Jim Henson and Disney in 1985, the management of the Henson international unit bought it out and made it into an independent production company. So by the time "HiT" started appearing on a Vanity Plate, it already had nothing to do with Henson.
  • When The Land Before Time reached Brazilian audiences, it was under the title "Em Busca do Vale Encantado" (In Search of the Enchanted Valley). As the characters were no longer looking for it in the sequels, that title was given the same treatment Indiana Jones was.
  • The Legend of Korra, the Sequel Series to Avatar: The Last Airbender went through two Working Titles, the second of which was The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra. Awkwardly, the supertitle was superfluous and inaccurate, because in-universe, Korra isn't "the last airbender". The title was soon shortened to The Legend of Korra. They couldn't just use Avatar as a series title because of a trademark dispute.
  • Looney Tunes. When the series was first conceived in the early '30s, it was meant as a showcase for songs in the Warner Bros. music library (and as a competitor with Disney's Silly Symphonies series). By the mid thirties that concept was done away with and the "looney" part of the title began to take precedence.
    • Its sister series Merrie Melodies is doubly so, as for most of its run it has essentially been the same as the Looney Tunes. At first it separated itself by being one-off cartoons, whereas the Tunes used recurring characters (originally Bosko, then Buddy, later Porky Pig). Then the Merrie Melodies went color, shortly after which they phased out the musical format. By the time Looney Tunes converted to color, the only difference between the two series was the opening theme music. This wiki doesn't even give them separate pages.
      • In the Tunes' case, it helps them the fact that "tunes" and "toons" are homophones in some dialects, leading some to believe the name is just an artistic misspelling.
    • To this end, there are some people who insist on referring to the series as a whole as "classic Warner Bros. shorts" or something similar.
    • To further confuse things, there has been merchandise where "Looney Tunes" characters such as Bugs Bunny and Taz are branded with "Merrie Melodies".
    • Looney Tunes cartoons were released for a time as "A Vitagraph Release", despite not being made at Vitagraph studios, while Merrie Melodies were issued under the Vitaphone label, despite not using the Vitaphone sound system.
  • While the title My Little Pony always made sense for the toys, it makes less sense for the various animated series, as the ponies are neither little nor owned by anyone. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, at least, has tried to Title Drop the name by having ponies use the phrase among themselves.
    • G4's Fluttershy derives her name from a G3 pony who was named for being a "shutterfly", ie a photography enthusiast, which the G4 version is not. She does, however, flutter (she's not very good at flying), and is very shy.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic's flagship fan convention, Bronycon, started out as BroNYcon, located in the Meawdowlands entertainment complex for the greater New York City market. After two years it moved to Baltimore, MD and dropped all references to New York, falling back on the generic reference to older male fans of the show.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar is, as its name suggests, centered around the minor penguin characters of the movie Madagascar, but is primarily set in New York.
  • After the first bunch of Popeye cartoons, the only thing that practically defined Popeye was his sailor outfit. This trope was sort of undone during World War II when he served in the Navy, but when Famous Studios took over production and the series switched to color, the "sailor" aspect was defined only by Popeye's white Navy suit. Some cartoons even had him with a totally different occupation.
  • By the second season of The Replacements, the show focused mainly on the wacky misadventures of the Daring family and less on Todd and Riley replacing people in their lives.
  • Robot Chicken has a mild case in the new seasons. At first the premise is that the show is what the robot chicken was forced to watch. At the end of season 5 the chicken breaks free and beginning in the next season the show is what the scientist sees as payback from the chicken.
  • The "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween specials on The Simpsons only used the titular framing story of Bart and Lisa telling scary stories in their treehouse in the first installment. The following few episodes of this type featured other framing stories, and later ones have no framing device at all.
    • The Treehouse of Horror episodes also gradually drifted away from horror stories and parodies within the genre, giving us things such as story based on Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a detective story in the style of Sherlock Holmes, and a spoof of A Clockwork Orange that gradually degenerates into a tribute to Stanley Kubrick.
    • For the longest time the episodes themselves being Halloween specials was archaic since they aired in November (thanks to Fox's contract with MLB pushing back the release dates), something the show itself even joked about several times. This seems to have become more lenient however, as more recent "Treehouse" episodes have begun airing in October again, thus undoing this trope.
    • In some accents (such as the Irish accent) "tree" sounds like "three", which makes sense as the Treehouse of Horror episodes feature three distinct short stories. So, stretching the point a bit, "treehouse" could be somewhat synonymous to "trilogy".
  • This trope is discussed in the second episode of the South Park "Coon and Friends" trilogy. The Coon (Cartman) starts a superhero group called "Coon and Friends", but eventually gets kicked out by the other member for being a jerk. Tool Shed (Stan) asks new leader Mysterion (Kenny) why they're not changing the name now that Cartman is gone. Mysterion tells him that he decided to keep the name because doing so "pisses Cartman off beyond belief", which Mysterion finds hilarious.
  • Star Wars Rebels: The late season 2 episode "The Mystery of Chopper Base" was originally conceived with a plot where the rebels leave their new base and return to find it missing, so they had to go looking for it and discovered they'd built it on the back of a giant creature. The finished episode wound up with a plot where the rebels have problems with the local wildlife while setting up their base, but the original title stuck.
  • Stitch! The Movie, as a result of production issues. The movie was originally going to be titled Lilo & Stitch: A New Ohana, but then the decision was made to only have Stitch's name in the title of this and the subsequent series, which was going to be called Stitch! The Series. It was then decided to rename the series back to Lilo & Stitch: The Series, but the memo wasn't given to the marketing team for The Movie in time for the name to be changed.
  • Total Drama had a Season 1 episode originally called "Haute Camp-ture" note  that was to feature a fashion photo shoot challenge. This idea was scrapped in favor of a "look in on the losers" story called "After the Dock of Shame". Some networks aired the episode with the original title, which doesn't fit the replacement story, and the episode is still widely known by that now-misleading original title.
  • Averted with The Venture Bros., which ended the first season on a cliffhanger. Fans were left wondering how the show could continue to exist with its title characters killed off, until the question was resolved the next season.
    • The opening episode of season 2 even had a Red Herring to the effect that the show would be about Rusty and his newfound brother Jonas Jr., technically still the Venture Brothers of sorts. Then, Hank and Dean got better.
    • To a degree this still applies, since the central character is now the boys' father Rusty, not the boys themselves (though they are still prominent). Season 7 has all but directly stated that the Monarch and Rusty are half brothers making them the real Venture Bros.
  • One of the original concepts for the show Goof Troop was having Goofy be the leader of a Boy Scout-ish troop of children. The idea was dropped but the title of the show didn't change.


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