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Exactly What It Says On The Tin / Live-Action TV

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Exactly What It Says on the Tin in live-action TV.



Individual Shows

  • 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown: The regular cast of Panel Show 8 Out of 10 Cats plays teatime game show Countdown.
  • Guess what 1000 Ways to Die is about.
  • Adam Ruins Everything is about the host, Adam Conover, going around and ruining preconceived notions about subjects that are common knowledge in episodes titled "Adam Ruins: (insert noun)".
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  • The Bisexual: The series is about a bisexual, like the title suggests.
  • A season 4 episode of The Bob Newhart Show is titled "Bob Has to Have His Tonsils Out, So He Spends Christmas Eve in the Hospital".
  • The main protagonist in Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a girl named Buffy. Her primary opponents are vampires. She slays them.
  • Most of Cartoon Network's "CN Real" block, most notably Destroy Build Destroy.
  • Cold Case is a Cop Show about a team that solves cold cases.
  • Conan's "Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation Reads Tweets from Young Female Celebrities."
  • Dancing On Ice: The literalness of the title has been commented on by many, many people.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Satan Pit" does indeed have a pit with an entity claiming to be Satan in it.
    • "Daleks in Manhattan": Under the Empire State Building, if you want to get specific.
    • "Victory of the Daleks": Gee, wonder who wins in this episode?
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    • "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship". Enough said.
    • "Bad Wolf" Captain Jack Harkness namedrops the trope, when two robots turn a "defabricator" on him.
      Jack: What's the defabricator?
      Device removes all of his clothing
      Jack: Ok, the defabricator. Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond - generally correct; except when they don't, and especially when his overbearing dominating mother loves him too much.
  • Fantasy Island is about an island where people's fantasies become real.
  • The Father Ted episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse" is about Ted attempting to kick Bishop Brennan up the arse.
  • Frasier does this with a bunch of episode titles in which a former Cheers character shows up, with the episode title being "The Show Where [Sam / Diane / Woody] Shows Up".
  • Almost all episodes of Friends have the form of "The One With..." or "The One Where..." such as "The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth's Dad", and even the exceptions still fit the trope ("The Pilot", "The Last One").
    • The Pilot's alternate title: The One Where Monica Gets A New Roommate. (Guess the plot).
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  • Hard Time on Planet Earth is about an alien prisoner exiled to Earth.
  • How I Met Your Mother is how the protagonist, Ted Mosby, eventually met his kids' mother.
  • The first-ever produced episode of I Love Lucy was entitled "Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her". Bet you can't guess the plot. Most of the episode titles are like that. Since the episode titles were not announced or displayed on screen during the episodes, there was no need to be clever.
  • The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is about .. the increasingly poor decisions of Todd Margaret. With absurdly long episode titles like "In Which Brent Wilts Arrives and Things Take a Turn for the Worse", it really couldn't be spelled out more.
  • All of the several series titled The Invisible Man have been about invisible men.
  • The show I Survived is about people who. . .survived horrendous ordeals.
  • Used to hilarious effect in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia with the episode titles. For example, the cold open will be Frank hatching a dangerous scheme, but claiming that no one will get hurt. Cue the episode title, "Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire".
  • Lost in Space is about people who get lost in space.
  • Mayday is known as Air Crash Investigation in most of the countries that air it.
  • A compilation of sketches from Monty Python's Flying Circus was released titled Parrot Sketch Not Included. Guess which sketch was missing from this collection.
  • The Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women. It's exactly the barely adequate movie-of-the-week material it sounds like.
  • My Girlfriend Is a Nine-Tailed Fox is about a fellow dating a kumiho.
  • Name That Tune. It's a game show where the contestants have to give the name of the tune that plays when given only a few notes. Most of the content is thus right there in the title.
  • Odd Squad is about kids fighting oddness as part of their job, as agents of...well, take a guess.
  • Our Miss Brooks: The series naturally stars Miss Brooks. Additionally, episode titles often describe what the episode is about, i.e "Angela's Wedding" or "Birthday Bag".
  • Some episodes of Psych (known for having bizarre and quirky episode titles) fall under this category, eg: "Gus's Dad May Have Killed An Old Guy".
  • In Seconds from Disaster, all of the episode titles are literal descriptions of the incident featured in the episode. The exact level of specificity varies (i.e. a title like "Bali Nightclub Bombing" clearly refers to one specific incident, while a title like "Collision on the Runway" only describes what happened but could refer to any one of half a dozen incidents of this type), but unlike some similar shows, they don't use metaphors or vague phrasing — every episode title provides a relatively clear picture of what kind of disaster the viewer can expect to see unfold.
  • Sex Sent Me To The ER: It's a series of stories about people who were injured during sex and had to go to the Emergency Room.
  • Star Trek does this in every series where the title is the franchise name (a story about a voyage, or trek, among the stars) and the subtitle is the name of the main setting of the series (Deep Space Nine/Voyager/Enterprise/Discovery). Only subverted once, with Star Trek: The Next Generation, which actually happened three generations after Star Trek: The Original Series.
    • Also with three pilot episode titles in a row: "Encounter at Farpoint" being an episode about an encounter at Farpoint Station; "The Emissary" being about Ben Sisko, aka "The Emissary of the Prophets," and "Caretaker," about an alien caretaker for a degenerating civilization.
    • The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Desert Crossing" is about Captain Archer and Trip Tucker crossing a desert.
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is about a submarine.


  • An episode of 30 Rock shows two short clips of an ESPN talk show parody called Sports Shouting, consisting of four guys shouting at each other about sports.
  • Arrested Development:
    • In the second episode, Michael discovers a bag in the fridge labeled "Dead Dove: Do Not Eat". After looking in the bag he delivers his classic response: "I don't know what I was expecting."
    • Also, Tobias is a "nevernude", and when Michael finds this out, he asks, "Is that exactly what it sounds like?"
  • Babylon 5 has the "pain givers".
  • Batman (1966)'s infamous obsession with labeling everything, no matter how blindingly obvious the object may be. The vertical shaft to the Batcave from Bruce Wayne's study, for example, is meticulously stenciled with 'Access to Batcave via Batpoles'.
  • The Bill Nye the Science Guy episode about heat has a few clips featuring a big sweaty guy called Big Sweaty Guy. The show itself could be seen as an example of the trope, since it was presented by Bill Nye and about science.
  • Blackadder:
    • Blackadder the Second:
      Girl: You wish to see the Wiiise Woman?
      Blackadder: Yes, the Wise Woman.
      Girl: There are two things ye must know about the Wiiise Woman! The first is: She. Is. Wise! And the second is:—
      Blackadder: She is a woman?
      Girl: 'Ere, so you do know 'er then?
    • From one episode of Blackadder The Third:
      • One hopes for Prince George's sake that Blackadder's play "Thick Jack Clot Sits in the Stocks and Gets Pelted with Rancid Tomatoes" isn't an example of this trope, since Blackadder wants him to play the title role.
      • Earlier in the same episode, another play is mentioned and then rehearsed:
        Mossop: It is a piece we penned ourselves, called The Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and His Enormously Bosomed Wife.
        Blackadder: A philosophical work, then?
        Keanrick: Indeed yes. The violence of the murder and the vastness of the bosom are entirely justified artistically.
  • The Story People from Boohbah are named Mr. Man, Mrs. Lady, Brother and Sister, Grandmamma, Grandpappa, Auntie, and Little Dog Fido. Good luck figuring out what parts of the family they represent.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Bad Wolf": Said word-for-word by Captain Jack Harkness after he gets shot with a device called the Defabricator.
      Jack: Okay, "Defabricator". Does exactly what it says on the tin.
    • Done again by Rory Williams in "Let's Kill Hitler".
      Amy: [after being shrunk] What was that?
      Rory: Some kind of miniaturization ray.
      Amy: How do you know that?
      Rory: Well, there was a ray and we were miniaturized.
  • Knowing the audience would understand this trope, Galavant used this as a plot device: When 3 major plot developments needed to happen in under 5 minutes, the characters stumbled upon "The Forest of Coincidence". Guess what happens?
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The Riverlands is full of rivers; take a wild guess what you get a lot of in the Stormlands and around its coastline...
    • Many locations in the Reach fall under this, particularly Oldtown, which is the oldest city in Westeros.
  • In the Henry Danger episode "Super Volcano", Jasper asks Henry what the TV show Kids in the Woods is about and Henry dryly replies "It's about kids in the woods."
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney is very confident that a live wrestling match called "Wrestlers vs. Robots" will be just as incredibly cool as it sounds from the title: He can predict that the gang will have a tradition of going there every year, even before he's seen the show for the first time, because with a name like "Wrestlers vs. Robots," how could it not be awesome? And while Barney is disappointed that Ted pursues other plans, it seems that he has no disappointments with the event itself, and that the event is exactly what it sounds like from the title: a wrestling match that pitted human wrestlers against robots that were built for competing in such wrestling matches.
  • The overly long titles of the iCarly skits. For titles like "Pathetic Plays: (insert long title)", "The prisoner who wanted some soup and the man who refused to give him some" and "The cowboy with a mustache and the idiot farm girl who thought the mustache was a squirrel".
  • Kamen Rider Saber: The Big Bad has his own Finishing Move like the heroes do, but his is called The End of the World. Using it immediately and irrevocably starts the apocalypse, which is why most of the series is spent on his efforts to gain the ability to use it.
  • Lampshaded in The Kids in the Hall sketch about an Ex-Girlfriends Relocation Program. "It's complicated, so allow me to explain. The Ex-Girlfriends Relocation Program is a program that relocates ex-girlfriends. ...Gee, I guess it wasn't that complicated."
  • In the famous Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch, "Crunchy Frog", a police officer recommends exaggerating the trope.
    Mr. Milton: It says "Crunchy Frog" quite clearly [on the box].
    Officer: The superintendent thought it was an almond whirl... I must warn you that in future, you should delete the words "Crunchy Frog" and replace them with the legend "Crunchy Raw Unboned Real Dead Frog" if you want to avoid prosecution.
  • Zig-zagged with the title of Charlie Eppes' book in NUMB3RS. The title he uses when he submits it is "A Mathematical Analysis of Friendship Dynamics", which is exactly what it sounds like. However, when it gets published as a mainstream book, the publisher convinces him to change the title to something more catchy, which ends up being a bit less precise.
  • Del's idea for a film in Only Fools and Horses: "There is a Rhino Loose in the City". Unsurprisingly, his explanation of the plot makes no sense whatsoever.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, Elaine is at a video store trying to find something to rent and picks one up called "The Pain and the Yearning". She turns it over to read the synopsis on the back: "An old woman experiences pain and yearning."
  • Spoofed in the Gerry Anderson pilot Space Police (which was later reworked as Space Precinct): the villain, Mr. Big, is based out of a nightclub called "Mr. Big's Secret Hideout" which is covered with neon signs and arrows indicating same.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series' mirror universe had an handheld device called an agonizer and a booth called the agony booth which were used to punish crew members.
  • In the Supernatural episode "Bloodlines", the following conversation occurs:
    David: My name is David Lassiter. I'm a shapeshifter.
    Ennis: You're a what?
    David: We shift... our shape. It's kind of all there in the name.
  • Inverted on The Games, about a group of officials organising the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In one episode, they bring in the contractor who has build the running track in the athletics stadium to discuss it. They work out that while the oval shaped main track is the standard 400 meters but that the 100 metres track, that starts off the main track and joins the main oval, is about 100 metres long. It's so short that Brian, a middle aged and not particularly athletic man can run it fast enough to break the Australian record, and that an upcoming schoolboy championship will result in the World Record being broken.
  • In Todd and the Book of Pure Evil there is a book that is called "The Book of Pure Evil". Guess what it does. This is lampshaded many times after everything goes wrong and someone has to ask something along the lines of, "What did you think would happen when reading from something called 'The Book of Pure Evil'?"
  • In season 4, episode 20 of the British Top Gear, they make a vehicle capable of working as a conventional van or hovercraft. What do they name it? The "Hovervan".
  • Lampshaded on Whose Line Is It Anyway? before a particular performance of the game Foreign Film Dub:
    Drew: If you were a Ukrainian action film director, what would the name of your action film be?
    Someone in audience: Action in the Ukraine!
  • In one episode of Wings, Fay has a mirror on a pole and says, "It's my own invention. I use it to peek around corners and look at birds with. I call it 'the thing I use to peek around corners and look at birds with.'"
  • Also this happened on Wizards of Waverly Place, where they even outright stated, "In the Wizarding worlds people name their children what they want them to grow up to be." This episode included a tutor named Tutor. This didn't always work, though.
  • The X-Files features recurring antagonist The Cigarette-Smoking Man. He is a man who near-constantly smokes cigarettes.