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Artifact Name

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He’ll soon be 27 years old.
This is for when something was initially named, and that name made sense, but something about the object has has changed so that the name doesn't make sense anymore.

Like the Chestnut and Elm streets of many United States cities. They had said trees when they were first named but now, they mostly don't, due to diseases wiping out said trees from the area.

Sister trope to Artifact Title, which is this, but for work titles, and this is a subtrope of Non-Indicative Name, which is for when any name not making sense, at least on its face.

One Extra Member is a subtrope, for groups initially named after its number of members, but gets more members and invalidates the name.

Non-Indicative Name is the Super-Trope for names that don't make sense. This trope is for cases of Language Drift or other kinds of change over time, changing things to a name that was accurate, now is not.

This can overlap with Non-Indicative Name in cases where somehow, inaccuracy is not caused by change over time, usually requiring two parts to a name, like if a "green dragon" has its color redefined as "blue" over time, but was initally named knowing that it's not "dragon"-y, such as in cases of Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit".



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    Comic Books 
  • Batgirl: Stephanie Brown originally operated under the superhero identity of the Spoiler. Her name and modus operandi came from her relationship with her father, the Cluemaster, who was a B-grade Riddler knockoff. Stephanie grew to despise her father and his criminal ways, so she would go out and leave clues to help Batman and Robin catch him, "spoiling" his crimes. However, Stephanie quickly branched out into crimefighting beyond her father and she no longer did any "spoiling", she would directly intervene and fight crime herself. She retained the name for years, not counting her brief tenure as the fourth Robin, and there became such a disconnect between her current activities and her original actions that even a lot of her fans did not know where her identity came from. In 2009, following the death of Batman, she inherited the Batgirl title from Cassandra Cain and the Spoiler identity was laid to rest. When she came back post-Flashpoint, she was back to her original motivation of spoiling her father's crimes.
  • Ghost Rider: Only in Brazil, due to Dub Name Change: It was translated as Motoqueiro Fantasma (Ghost Biker). As Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch versions ride motorcycles, it fits them well. Then came the Robbie Reyes version, riding a muscle car, but the translator kept the "Ghost Biker" name.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark's armor hasn't had much iron used in its construction for decades, but the name is iconic.
  • Discussed in Invincible. When Robot disbands the "teen team" because he's joining the Guardians of the Globe, he points out that the name would've become inaccurate within a couple years anyway.
  • When Jack Kirby and Joe Simon created the Newsboy Legion in The Golden Age of Comic Books, they were so called because they were orphans who sold newspapers to earn a living. This had become an anachronism in later years, which was addressed in several different ways:
    • When Kirby introduced their identical sons in the Bronze Age, they were also known as the Newsboy Legion, even though they'd never sold a paper in their lives, and were far more defined by living in a genetics lab.
    • The Post-Crisis incarnation of the Legion were clones of the originals (the sons didn't exist in this continuity), and they still didn't sell papers.
    • Walter Simonson tried to bring them up-to-date in Orion as the Newsgroup Legion, a term later used by Jimmy Olsen (although it wasn't revealed if he was talking about the same kids).
    • In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers, the Newsboy Legion is the Manhattan Guardian's army of amateur reporters.
    • Season 3 of Young Justice reimagined the group as young news livestreamers, with Tommy, Gabby, and Big Words getting Gender Flipped and Scrapper recast as their adult companion in the vein of the Guardian.
  • The Transformers (Marvel): While Fortress Maximus' name made sense in the cartoon and toyline, as he was a Humongous Mecha who could transform into a fortress, it makes zero sense in the comics, where he's just a regular (if slightly large) transformer.
  • The name of the X-Men foes "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants" became a bit obsolete when Magneto was recharacterized as a Well-Intentioned Extremist as opposed to a Card-Carrying Villain. Usually they justify it by Magneto intentionally invoking Then Let Me Be Evil. Some versions have just been called "the Brotherhood of Mutants".

    Fan Works 
  • The Wobbuffet Dojo in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: What Came After was owned by Gallade's grandfather, who was a Wobbuffet, but his will stipulated that the name or appearance (the dojo was built to look like a Wobbuffet) could not be changed after his death, much to the embarrassment of Gallade, who inherited it.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: While it once lived up to its name, Gringy City is now quite a nice place after extensive revitalization.
  • A good description of the situation in the post-Spider-Man: No Way Home fic "Spiderman: A Way Back Home", when the Harry Osborns of the other worlds arrive in this one; Peter and his allies refer to the two Harrys as 'Harry-Two' and 'Harry-Three' to link them to the alternate Peter Parkers he has met previously, even though there is no 'Harry-One' equivalent.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Up, Kevin the bird is still called thusly even after Dug reveals she's female.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In the Iron Man film, the titular character's codename fits his first two armors, Mark I and Mark II. To fix Mark II's issue about freezing in high altitude, Tony Stark built the Mark III armor using a titanium-gold alloy, but he kept the codename Iron Man because he considered it cool.
  • The Hunger Games: Prim's cat is named Buttercup. In the books, she named him that because his coat matches the yellowish flower. In the film, however, he has been changed into a piebald cat, so it no longer makes sense. Retconned in the second film, where Buttercup suddenly becomes a ginger cat.

  • In the children's short story Genius Jones and Fat Cat, this is subverted with the eponymous cat's name. She starts out chubby, and so is named, but then she turns skinny... but then she regains the weight she lost.
  • Giants Series: The names for the Lunarians and Ganymeans are both artifact names based on the place the first specimens of either species were discovered. Either of them could be called Minervans.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Foundation Series: The Mayor of Terminus was a title for the civilian leader of the town that grew up to support the Encyclopedia Foundation. As Terminus' influence grows, they govern more and more planets, and will eventually be the civilian leader of the Second Galactic Empire. Their title, however, remains "Mayor of Terminus".
    • "Evidence": In-Universe, despite society changing to a single world-wide government, the company Dr Calvin works for is still known as United States Robots and Mechanical Men Corporation. The collection I, Robot explicitly makes the United States of America part of the Northern Region of the world government.
    • "Profession": At the end of the story, George asks about an In-Universe example: Olympics Day. The Olympic Games referred to the Greek city of Olympus, but they're now held yearly and involve demonstrations of Professional skills. Trevelyn and others on Earth use the Olympics to get companies/planets to notice their skills and get more prestigious hiring offers.
    • Words of Science and the History Behind Them:
      • The entry for "Atoms" explains that the word comes from the Greek "atomos", which means "not divisible", based on the idea that these particles could not be broken down into anything smaller. In 1896, this assumption was disproven.
        Now, man's whole future hinges upon the manner in which atoms break up and fuse together and on the behavior of particles smaller than atoms. But still the name is atom—"indivisible".
      • The entry for "Chromatography" explains that the word comes from the Greek "chroma" for colour and "graphein" for writing. It is a method of separating compounds with powders or paper, but is now performed for mostly colourless compounds, making the name no longer indicate the reading of pigments.
      • The entry for "Colloid" explains that the word comes from the Greek for "glue". It was originally a contrast to crystalline compounds, but the substances have been proven to crystallize, making its intended meaning of "not crystals" inaccurate.
  • Soylent Green in Make Room! Make Room! was initially named as such due to being made from soy and lentils. Thanks to Soylent Green and its Adaptation Displacement, most will now think of Soylent Green as having more to do with cannibalism.
  • In the kids' book Mr Cat, the cat still has that name even after she's revealed to be female.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Seven Kingdoms. Once upon a time, there really were seven independent kingdoms in Westeros, but following Aegon's Conquest and years of diplomacy, all of them were united as a single monarchy, with the Targaryen dynasty at the top. Hence why the newbuilt capital is called King's Landing instead of Emperor's Landing. Even after the Targaryens were deposed, the seven continue to recognize a single authority from King's Landing, at least until the War of the Five Kings cause the North and the Iron Islands to secede.
    • The War of the Five Kings is accurate when it is first named, since there are five kings or pretenders involved (Joffrey Baratheon, Renly Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Robb Stark, and Balon Greyjoy). By the events of A Dance with Dragons, however, only one of them is still alive, with three more added, meaning the total number of kings or claimants stands at eight (not including Daenerys Targaryen, who also claims the Iron Throne but is still busy in Essos).

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrow: In season 5, Oliver recruits five new members to his team, they were referred to in-universe as The Recruits and New Team Arrow. In season 6, the remaining recruits, Curtis, Dinah, and Renee, have a major split that puts them in opposition with Original Team Arrow (Oliver, Diggle, Felicity). However, they are often still referred to as New Team Arrow both in-universe and out. Curtis eventually suggests "The Outsiders" but at the end of season 6, it hasn't caught on and they don't seem to have an official name.
  • The Zords in Power Rangers were named after The Mentor of the original team, Zordon. Despite his Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Power Rangers in Space, they still call their machines and robots "Zords" for no real reason.
  • On Angel, the gang opted to keep using the name "Angel Investigations" after Angel quit the agency. When a client asked which of them Angel, Wesley answered that it was "just a name."
  • Pied Piper, the main company in Silicon Valley, had that name because it was originally a music app. Its compression algorithm is quickly discovered to be far more lucrative than the program it was created for, so the company pivots. It's said more than once that "Pied Piper" is not a very good name.

  • “Alternative rock” was originally a category describing rock bands who were outside the commercial mainstream, often releasing albums on independent record labels and getting more airplay on college radio stations than traditional rock and pop radio. The rise of grunge in the early 1990s brought alternative rock bands into the mainstream and eventually to artifact name status as “alternative” became the dominant form of mainstream commercial rock music in the United States, such that by the mid-90s the week-to-week song rankings on Billboard Magazine’s alternative rock chart (called “Modern Rock Tracks” at the time) and its mainstream rock chart were virtually identical.
  • Many British and American post-punk and synthpop bands that originally debuted in the late 70s and early 80s are still labeled as “New Wave” bands, even though none of the groups from that era who are still active are exactly “new” anymore.
  • Electric Light Orchestra was originally conceived in 1970 as a rock band with classical instruments and sounds — an electrified light orchestra, hence its name. The reed and french horn players left the group during the recording of their second album while the role of the string section decreased over the years, rendering the "light orchestra" part of their name more and more moot. By the release of Time in 1981 the string players were also gone, with the four remaining band members playing standard rock instruments and any classical sounds in their new songs being created with synthesizers. It's probably not a coincidence that they were more commonly known by their initials than their full name during this period.
  • The Five Man Electrical Band hasn’t actually had five members since drummer Mike Bell and bassist Brian Rading both left in 1973, reducing the band to only three. The current version of the group has six members who still play a handful of live concerts every year.
  • Even though guitarist J. Geils quit The J. Geils Band following a legal spat in 2012, the rest of the group would continue touring as The J. Geils Band until they retired in 2015, without the person it was literally named after.
  • Pizzicato Five had five members for their debut EP, The Audrey Hepburn Complex. Then one guy left, and they were never again officially a five-piece band. At the time of their greatest international success, they were a trio, then a duo, but their original name stuck.
  • Secret Chiefs 3 was a trio on their first EP and album, with all three members contributing equally to songwriting. Then two of them had to limit their involvement due to other commitments, and the remaining guy, Trey Spruance, basically became the band—though he brought in a rotating cast of musicians to help bring his ideas to life. If the name were supposed to accurately represent the number of permanent band members, then they'd be "Secret Chiefs 1"; if it were supposed to reflect the number of musicians playing on a given album, then it would vary from "Secret Chiefs 5" to "Secret Chiefs 21".
  • Eminem's rap name was something he came up with as a member of Soul Intent, a defunct white rap group he was a part of in his late teens and early 20s. All the members of the group had candy-themed names or aliases (e.g. DJ Butter Fingers). Eminem, of course, ended up being the breakout member, but the context for his name is now lost.

    New Media 
  • The term "New Media" itself was first used in the late 1990s by media companies to describe their then-new divisions producing or repackaging content for the Internet (or in some cases, video games). It's been decades since then, during which time the Internet has for some of them become the dominant or even only medium.
  • TV Tropes itself, as we haven't been strictly about television for years.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The pseudodragon from the 1st edition onwards, isn't, from 3E onward, as a it became a member of the Dragon creature type. A.k.a, not a "false dragon".

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Muppet Show, there's a character in the orchestra called Trumpet Girl because, logically enough, she plays the trumpet. Except that once Lips was introduced in the final season as the main trumpet player, she moved to the trombone, and in The Muppets, she plays the clarinet. Rashida Jones, who puppeteered her in the movie, named her Dolores, but officially, she's still Trumpet Girl.
  • In Sesame Street, Baby Bear is still named that even though he's no longer a baby. He tried to rename himself Not-a-Baby Bear, but it didn't stick.

    Video Games 
  • The Final Fantasy games have this with the Dragoon job, which in the games is a foot soldier who specializes in spears and jumping attacks. Historically, dragoons were early cavalry armed with blunderbusses that were called "dragons" due to how they appeared when fired (and frequently decorated to look like dragons, to boot). When the class first started to appear in English, it got stuck with a Non-Indicative Name because the original Japanese name of Dragon Knight ran afoul of Character Name Limits. Between the obscurity of the actual profession, the widespread success of the franchise, and the fact that one of the series' top Ensemble Darkhourses has the job and did so back when said name limits were in force, the name has stuck with only one attempt to use the original name. It helps that the artifact name is at least evocative of their abilities.
  • In the backstory of the Halo games, the United Nations served as the main force organizing the Earth's extrasolar colonization efforts, establishing a military wing known as the United Nations Space Command (UNSC). By the time the series begins, they've long-since reformed into the Unified Earth Government, but the UNSC keeps its original name out of tradition.
  • In Monster Hunter 3 (Tri), Moga Woods is named the Deserted Island in Guild documents such as quest files, as the island's human population is supposed to have evacuated the island due to a series of unnatural earthquakes caused by Ceadeus (but a few strings are pulled in order to allow the villagers to stay). The name might've made sense in this game and its Updated Re-release Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate where Moga Village is the player's base of operations and they're trying to stop the earthquakes so that the villagers can stay safely, but in 3 Ultimate's village High Rank campaign, the source of the earthquakes has been eliminated (as a result of the Low Rank campaign) and the evacuation order has been called off, yet the map is still officially called Deserted Island. Weirder yet, characters from Moga appear in Monster Hunter Generations and their dialogue makes it no secret that Moga is still thriving and it's implied that some time has passed since the earthquakes, yet the game still refers to the Moga Woods as the Deserted Island.
  • Saints Row: The Third Street Saints gang's name in the original Saints Row was a Punny Name referring both to their HQ in an old church of the Stilwater's Saints Row district and to their claim to being the "good guys" in the Stilwater underworld, fighting for the common people against the actual criminal gangs. In the second game, they lose their hold of Saints Row and, after a change in leadership, abandon any pretense of goodness to become just another (albeit extremely persistent) power-hungry gang. The third game takes place in an entirely new city, and the next two leave Earth altogether, so by the time of Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, they aren't really "Saints" in anything but a self-applied moniker.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:

    Web Original 
  • Serina: The ancestral gravedigger species is so named because of its distinctive habit of killing prey using spiked pit traps. None of its three descendant species alive during the Ocean Age retains this habit — thalassic gravediggers and icefishers both hunt sealife using implements such as fishing lines, nets and harpoons, while savage gravediggers lack both the resources and intelligence for any kind of tool use — but retain the collective moniker used for their ancestors.

    Western Animation 
  • Dinky Dog was this in-universe, when the titular pooch, a cute little pup, "grew, and grew, and grew... and GREEEEEW!", eventually becoming the size of a horse. His owners cheerfully point out "Now he's not a dinky doggy anymore! Oh, NO!", but the name (ironically) still sticks.
  • Zig-Zagged with Droopy. When Droopy first debuted in the Tex Avery short Dumb-Hounded (Ironically, he wasn't called "Droopy" on screen until his fifth cartoon), his name was a Meaningful Name since he had a droopy face. As a result of Art Evolution, Droopy fell into this, as in most of his final cartoons, his face was no longer "droopy". However, modern appearances and adaptations of him have brought back his droopy face, making his name meaningful again.
  • 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 
  • The vast majority of modern versions of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe aim to be at least somewhat more mature than the original cartoon and toys, often extensively so. But no matter how mature He-Man as a franchise tries to be, it still has to feature a main character named He-Man, something that'd never fly for a franchise meant to be taken remotely seriously. To say nothing of Fisto, Clawful, Buzz-Off, or Two-Bad.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Downplayed with Fluttershy. She derives her name from a G3 pony who was named for being a "shutterfly", i.e. a photography enthusiast, which the G4 version is not. She does, however, flutter (she's not very good at flying), and is very shy.
    • The Crystal Empire is an in-universe example. While the geopolitics of this world are a bit ambiguous, in the story's present it is a minor kingdom at best, and possiby an Equestrian subject state. 1000 years ago, however, it was very much an expansionist empire, based on what we see of Sombra's rule (though it was ruled by a king, not an emperor).
  • Regular Show has a character named Muscle Man that is a short, overweight, green-skinned guy. While some characters assumed that it was an Ironic Nickname, an episode revealed that he actually used to be a bodybuilder in the past.
  • In-Universe example in South Park. In Season 13, Cartman started dressing up as a superhero named "the Coon," and he later assembled a superhero team with the other kids named "Coon and Friends." He’d eventually get kicked out of the group for beating up two of the other members, but they still kept the name even after he left.
    Toolshed: Mysterion, if Cartman's gone, why are we still calling ourselves "Coon and Friends?"
    Mysterion: Because it pisses Cartman off beyond belief, and I find that (chuckles) extremely funny.
  • In VeggieTales, Mr. Nezzer, full name Nebby K. Nezzer, was named as such because he took the place of Nebekenezer in the Bible story which marked his first appearance. He kept the name for the remainder of the series despite having no narrative connection to Nebekenezer at any other point.

    Real Life 
  • Norway rats, also known as Norwegian brown rats, are so-called because they were believed to have arrived in England on a Norwegian boat. They're still called that, despite the fact that historians have discovered that it was likely a Danish boat.
  • The Spanish Flu is named that because Spain reported the most cases, which led people to believe that the disease came from there. It is now known that the disease was actually spreading in other countries at the same time, but that those countries didn't want to report their cases due to World War I-related reasons. Its ultimate origin is unknown, but the first known cases were reported in the United States.
  • Basketball was named that way because the inventor of the game used peach baskets as makeshift goals. By the early 1900s the "basket" had been replaced with a metal hoop, some netting and a backboard, but the original name stuck.
  • Sports teams that have relocated sometimes don't change their nickname, which made more sense in their previous city:
    • The Los Angeles Lakers were originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota (The Land of 10,000 Lakes).
    • The Utah Jazz came from New Orleans, which is known for its jazz music.
    • The Memphis Grizzlies were based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Not many grizzly bears in Tennessee.
    • The Los Angeles Dodgers moved from Brooklyn, where the term "Dodger" referred to people who would dodge streetcars to get to Ebbets Field.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number was named when all musicals began at 8:30 PM, so the penultimate showcase number would happen around 11:00 PM. Broadway musicals tend to start at 8:00 PM or 7:00 PM, not counting afternoon matinees, which would put that musical number at an earlier time.
  • Back when the Strait of Malacca was named, Malacca was the most important port — and the Strait, the most important waterway — in the region. While, indeed, the latter still today holds true (and it is one of the most important in the world, right with the Suez and Panama canals), the former does not: Malacca's port lost importance when the Dutch conquered the city from the Portuguese in 1641 and diverted the local hub port to Batavia (today's Jakarta); when the Dutch ceded it to the British in 1824, who would later go on to found Singapore and make that the local hub port, Malacca saw whatever remained of its importance fade. Nowadays Malacca is little more than a tourist town and fishing port.
  • The names of the months of the Islamic calendar were inherited from a lunisolar calendar that was used by the pagan Arabs, and thus predated Islam. Many of these months reflected fixed seasonal changes, such as Rabi' al-Awwal ("the beginning of spring"), Ramadan ("parchedness", because it fell in the middle of summer), and Shawwal ("carried/pregnant", because camels usually got pregnant during this month). However, The Qur'an made the calendar purely lunar and forbade the usage of leap months, so the months end up cycling throughout the seasons, therefore the meanings were rendered obsolete (e.g., Ramadan can now fall at any season, not just summer).