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  • The yeti in Abominable is named "Everest", not "Abominable".
  • In Disney's Sleeping Beauty, the princess's name isn't "Sleeping Beauty." Her name is Briar Rose when she's in hiding, while her birth name is Princess Aurora.
  • The Lion King is a term that describes, at various points in the movie, Mufasa, Scar, and Simba. At no point do any of them use it as a title (and, of course, it's never their actual name).
  • The main protagonist in Tangled is Rapunzel, not "Tangled".
    • Similarly, there's no Princess Frozen; the film's two female leads are called Princess Anna and Queen Elsa. "Frozen" isn't the name of the snowman, either; his name is Olaf.
  • Pixar films suffer from this a lot:
    • The family from The Incredibles are the Parrs. "Mr. Incredible" is merely Bob Parr's superhero codename. And his wife is Elastigirl, not Mrs. Incredible.
    • Ratatouille is simply a cute pun for the title of the film, and the featured dish at the film's climax, not the name of any of the rats actually in the movie. The main rat character is named Rémy.
    • People mistakenly refer to the princess from Brave as Brave, as if it's her name. Her name is Merida.
    • Coco: The child protagonist of the film is named Miguel. Coco is actually the name of his great-grandmother.

  • Seltzer and Friedberg films and their imitators will often do this intentionally with characters because they don't expect audiences to remember character names while parodying movies. Po is called "Kung Fu Panda", Giselle is called "Enchanted Princess." Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck respectively feature "Ugly Betty" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
  • The Pink Panther refers to a gem in the first movie, not Inspector Clouseau, like some people think. The sequels largely turned the Pink Panther into an Artifact Title, with only some of the sequels actually featuring the gem in any capacity. note 
  • The title of the film The Last Samurai actually refers to the entire group of fighters at the end of the movie, but Japanese nouns are both plural and singular. Thus, many think it refers exclusively to Tom Cruise's character, especially given that he is the only one to survive. This misinterpretation crept into at least one international translation of the title, in a language that does make a distinction between singular and plural for "samurai".
  • The titular "phantom menace" of the Star Wars film The Phantom Menace isn't Darth Maul; it's his master, Senator Palpatine (secretly Darth Sidious). The term "phantom menace" means an unknown evil; in the film, none of the protagonists are aware that Palpatine is secretly the villain, and his identity isn't revealed to them until the third episode of the saga.
  • As with the book, The Last of the Mohicans refers to Chingachgook, not the hero Hawk-Eye / Nathanael.
  • The title of Highlander refers to Connor (and later Duncan) McLeod's origin as a Scottish Highlander, not to the race of immortals (who are simply call that, "Immortals") that he turns out to be part of. Similarly, the villain of that film is not named Kurgan. The Kurgans are a people believed to have lived in the area north of the Black Sea around 4000 BC, and believed to be the source of all Indo-European cultures. All Immortals refer to the character as "the Kurgan". For added Genius Bonus, the Kurgan people are named after the Turkish word for a one-person burial mound.
  • The "Thin Man" referred to in the title of the first The Thin Man film refers to the victim (due to his being contrasted with another character who's fat), but is often erroneously assumed to refer to Nick Charles, one of the heroes. (That detective Nick Charles was played by William Powell probably encouraged the confusion.) The sequels included references to "the Thin Man" in their titles to use the misconception to help brand the series.
  • The woman from Chasing Amy is named Alyssa. Amy is Silent Bob's ex, whom he brings up to draw parallels to the main character's relationship with Alyssa.
  • Many people believe that the title character of The Big Lebowski is that played by Jeff Bridges. The plot is driven by a case of mistaken identity between Bridges' character and another character also named Jeffrey Lebowski. However, Bridges' character repeatedly insists that he is properly called "the Dude," and refers to the other man as "the big Lebowski" several times throughout the film.
  • The eponymous whale of the film Free Willy was not named "Free Willy". The whale was named simply Willy; the title comes from a scene where Jesse says "let's free Willy!" It doesn't help that the sequels used "Free Willy" in their titles.
  • The main character in Ong-Bak is called Ting. Ong-Bak is a Buddha statue in his village temple.
  • Jaws is not the name of the shark in the movies of the same name, despite what a lot of pop-culture (including The Nostalgia Critic) would have you believe. The shark doesn't have a name at all, although on the set the mechanical shark used for filming was referred to as "Bruce", after Spielberg's lawyer. When it comes to official merchandise as well as film articles, the shark is usually referred to as simply, "The shark from JAWS", or occasionally, "The Great White Menace from JAWS". Curiously, the NES game based on the movie actually names the shark "Jaws".
    • In point of fact, it's sort of debatable whether it's even the same shark from one movie to another; the novelizations say no, and this only makes sense since the shark dies in each movie, but in the actual pictures it's left ambiguous enough that a viewer can assume it's the same old monster — which is admittedly more satisfying.
  • The Dog-Thing from The Thing (1982) is not named "Jed", and neither is "the Norwegian sled dog". Jed is the name of the wolf-dog who played the Norwegian sled dog. "Jed" and "Jed-Thing" are fan names given to the character and creature because it's less of a mouthful than "Norwegian sled dog" and "Norwegian sled dog-Thing". It may also be a reference to the fact that John Carpenter and Kurt Russell simply refer to the dog as Jed in the DVD commentary.
  • The creatures from the movie (and television series) Tremors are called "Graboids". So many viewers have called the creatures "Tremors" that this has been brought into the series; at one point a tourist mentions a "tremor", prompting a main character to exclaim in exasperation, "They're called Graboids!"
  • The flying alien monsters in Pitch Black remain nameless throughout the film. Sorry, "bio-raptor" and "demon" are just fanspeak.
  • "Xenomorph" (literally: "alien form") was used as a placeholder term to refer to the then-unclassified Aliens, but the species is never actually named in the films. Within the Alien universe, "Xenomorph" is a catchall term for any unclassifiable alien life form. It has been picked up as a fan term for convenience's sake, since "the aliens from Aliens" is too clunky to use in discussion. Taking this to be the actual name is like thinking "UFO" only refers to the flying saucers from Independence Day.
  • The title character of Local Hero is never explicitly stated. Mac, the main character, is not local nor particularly heroic, but he does help get the right people together to save the town and the whole point of the film is how he becomes a part of the town by the end, in spite of leaving for home. The soundtrack song titles do refer to him as a local hero. However, many people feel that the Ben, the old beach bum who stands against the oil company and convinces the company's CEO to drill elsewhere is the local hero, and the more clear candidate, since he's both local and a hero.
    • The phrase "local hero" is not used in the film, but it appears once in the novelization — oddly, in reference to the African-born reverend, Murdo.
  • Comic Book The Movie features an in-universe example of the trope's title example: a woman is condescendingly corrected by her four-year-old that the action figure his father has just bought is Captain Marvel, not Shazam.
  • In Bride of Re-Animator, the eponymous Bride is being constructed for Herbert West's heartbroken assistant, not for Herbert West the Re-Animator himself.
  • In all three versions of the movie, King Kong is the show name for the giant gorilla when he is brought back to New York — his real name is just "Kong". The same thing goes for the "Mighty" part of Mighty Joe Young; the character also being referred to as "Mr. Joseph Young", or "Joe" (in the remake, it's just "Joe").
  • A strange inversion: while Ichi the Killer is the name of the main character in the film, the character who appears predominantly on the posters, DVD covers, and other promotional images is actually the antagonist Kakihara, who is often mistaken for Ichi.
  • The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: Priscilla is the bus, not one of the main characters. Of course it makes role association jokes easier (a Brazilian magazine once said that Agent Smith's greatest flaw is: "Honestly, can you trust on someone who dressed himself as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?")
  • The main characters in Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke are actually called Pedro and The Man (although Man's real name is actually Anthony Stoner). The subsequent Cheech & Chong movies subvert this by actually naming the main characters Cheech and Chong.
  • The monster in Cloverfield is not named Cloverfield. It was called "Clover" in film production and "LSA" for "Large-Scale Aggressor" by the military in the film.
  • Pop culture osmosis of the Boris Karloff version of Frankenstein (1931) is what brought the masses to assume that the creature is called Frankenstein rather than the scientist who creates him. The creature has no name, but is commonly called "Frankenstein's monster." He's never referred to as a "monster" in the original novel. He's referred to as a "creature," and Mary Shelley also referred to him as "Adam." This trope was acknowledged in the 1939 film Son of Frankenstein when the character of Wolf von Frankenstein directly states that people had begun to refer to the monster by the name Frankenstein. As it happened, with the exception of film titles, the only major film in which the monster appears and is referred to directly by the name Frankenstein was the 2000s homage/mashup Van Helsing.
  • Johnny Mnemonic is not the name of its main character - he's just Johnny. Or "Just Johnny."
  • An interesting in-movie example occurs in Destroy All Monsters. During one scene, when all the monsters are attacking various cities, a news reporter claims that Baragon is attacking Paris, France. The problem? That's not Baragon attacking Paris but rather Gorosaurus. Interestingly enough, Toho did originally want to use Baragon in the scene, but the suit was too badly damaged so they used Gorosaurus instead. Though, why they still mistakenly referred to Gorosaurus as "Baragon" is unknown.
  • In the Zatoichi series, the protagonist's name is Ichi, Zato refers to a historical guild for blind men. Ichi should be called Zato-no-Ichi, but this is shortened to Zatoichi
  • Yojimbo means bodyguard. While the character is No Name Given, he identifies himself as Sanjuro. Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo gets double points for this (since "Zatoichi" is actually named Ichi), although kind of justified in that while Mifune is obviously playing the same character as he did in the two Kurosawa films, for legal reasons, he's called something else.
  • Whenever Mel Gibson's portrayal of William Wallace in Braveheart is spoofed, odds are he'll get called "Braveheart" rather than Wallace.
  • Sean Connery's character in Zardoz is Zed, not Zardoz. Zardoz actually is The Wonderful Wi ZARD of OZ.
  • The General is the train, not Buster Keaton's character. In fact, Johnnie Gray is only shown enlisted to be a lieutenant at the end.
  • The killer in the Scream movies is named "Ghostface", not "Scream". Similarly, the iconic ghostface mask that he wears is not called a "Scream mask", as it was sold in costume shops years before the film came out.
  • Similar to the above: many people think that Saw or by extension, Jigsaw, is the name of the main villain, or even of the puppet appearing in the films, becoming a sort of mascot for the series. The puppet is named Billy, and the name given by the press to the killer is Jigsaw.
  • Avatar: The Na'vi are not avatars. Jake is not the only person with one, neither is he one all the time.
  • The main character of Kikujiro no Natsu is not named Kikujiro. We don't know who it is before the ending, which is a simple but brillant twist. Even if the DVD case may tell you who it is actually.
  • The movie Breakfast at Tiffany's has the same problem as the book with people thinking Tiffany is the main character, instead of a company. Holly Golightly is the name of the main character.
  • The name of the main antagonist in Men in Black is "The Bug", not "Edgar". Edgar is the name of the farmer whom the Bug kills and disguises himself as. (Oddly enough, action figures and even the cartoon spin-off refer to the Bug as "Edgar".)
  • The Mexican refers to the name of the legendary gun at the heart of the story and is not referring to Brad Pitt's character.
  • Benny & Joon does not refer to the romantic leads, but the brother and sister. Johnny Depp is NOT the titular Benny (his character is named Sam), but this mistake is made often.
  • In Freddy Got Fingered, "Freddy" is the name not of the title character (his name is Gord), but of his brother - and the title refers to an incident in the movie that none of the trailers showed (which was only an accusation by Gord, and never actually happened in the movie's continuity).
  • People who are not familiar with the film tend to assume that David Bowie's character is the eponymous "Mr. Lawrence" in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. Bowie's character is in fact called Captain Jack Celliers. Mr. Lawrence is another POW, the camp's translator and the only surviving member of the main cast at the end of the film.
  • The villain in Wishmaster is sometimes referred to as being "Wishmaster" by people describing the film. The villain is not called Wishmaster; that's just a role he fulfills. He's the Djinn.
  • I, Frankenstein plays with this trope the same way the original Captain Marvel did. So many beings call Adam Frankenstein he decides to take the name and make it his own, hence the title.
  • The protagonist of Saving Mr. Banks is not Mr. Banks, but author Pamela Travers. "Mr. Banks" is a fictional character loosely based on her father.
  • Godzilla (2014) features a Covert Group called MONARCH. However, it was misidentified by the public as being named "M.U.T.O." in the months leading up to the film's release. This confusion can be blamed on the M.U.T.O. Research website set up as part of the Viral Marketing. M.U.T.O. stands for "Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism" and refers to the Kaiju that is being researched. But the name of the website accidentally implied that M.U.T.O. referred to the organization of researchers itself. Funnily enough, some of the text responses refer to certain activities being "reported to MONARCH," but this whole confusion led people to speculate that MONARCH referred to either A) the codename for an individual within the organization, or B) the name of some fictional security software.
  • The hotel in Hotel Rwanda isn't actually called "Hotel Rwanda", it's called "Hôtel des Mille Collines" (French for "Hotel of a Thousand Hills").
  • Beetlejuice is not the name of the character. It's "Betelgeuse" but pronounced "Beetlejuice", just like the real-life star.
  • The vampire's name is not Nosferatu. It is Count Orlok. Though according to the film itself, Count Orlok is a nosferatu, not a vampire, as the filmmakers mistakenly believed the word "vampire" was copyrighted. Some people even mistakenly say he's Dracula. Admittedly he is, and Orlok is them Writing Around Trademarks.
  • Karl Childers is not named Sling Blade.
  • The main character of Bruce Almighty is called Bruce Nolan. "Bruce Almighty" is the title he gives himself while drunk with power.
  • Specific to France, Chaplin's Tramp character is known as "Charlot" (the French counterpart to "Charlie", both being a familiar nickname for "Charles"), not "the Tramp" — presumably because the thing that's written in big letters in the credits of any movie featuring the Tramp is "Charlie Chaplin", not "The Tramp". The name just sounded too funny for people to understand that it was really the name of a person, not the character's.
  • The protagonist of the Christmas comedy Elf is named Buddy, not "Elf", and technically he's not an elf; he's a human.
  • All About Eve puts Bette Davis on the poster and bills her above the title. Davis's character is Margo Channing, but she's mistakenly thought to be Eve.
  • The Legend of Frenchie King: Her name is Louise Leroi, not Frenchie King. Sure, Frenchie King IS her Red Baron, but it's still jarring to see how many plot summaries refer to Louise as "Frenchie".
  • A little complicated with Pan's Labyrinth. While Pan is definitely not the name of the main character, which is Ofelia, it's not the name of the Faun, either—it's English title was just given due to concerns that people would mix up the words "faun" and "fawn," as in a baby deer. The Faun was called "Pan" in English-language interviews, but is nameless in the film, and the original Spanish title is just El Laberinto del Fauno ("The Labyrinth of the Faun").
  • The World of Kanako: People have assumed that the protagonist is called Kanako. This is wrong, his name is Akikazu, Kanako is the name of his daughter (she plays an important role but is not the protagonist).
  • While It's All Gone Pete Tong does feature a brief appearance by the real-life DJ Pete Tong, he isn't relevant in any real way to the plot, which is about a fictional DJ named Frankie Wilde. In context, the title is actually a reference to a bit of cockney rhyming slang meaning "It's all gone wrong", which things decidedly do for Frankie very early on.
  • Star Kid is about a comic book geek who finds a suit of alien Powered Armor. Based on that title and description, you'd probably assume that he becomes a superhero named Star Kid, right? Wrong—he's never called that at any point in the movie, and for that matter only has one public act of heroism that doesn't really affect the rest of the plot.
  • The mad transvestite scientist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is named Dr. Frank N. Furter. The "Rocky Horror" on the title refers to his creation, a muscleman he created to serve as his lover. Despite this, most of the promotional imagery feature Dr. Frank N. Furter and very rarely actually show the actual Rocky Horror.


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