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"It's strange, for a game called 'House of the Dead', you'd assume it would be set in a house full of dead people... Truthfully, they should have called this game 'Road Trip of the Dead'..."

A series title that may have been an accurate description when it began, but after a number of changes to the premise, no longer makes sense to people who don't go back to the beginning. Sometimes a new element is put in to justify the title.

This usually happens when a movie named after a specific MacGuffin suddenly gets a sequel and changing the title to something else might throw people off that this is a sequel. One of the ways to avert this is through a Franchise-Driven Retitling, downgrading the original to a subtitle with the main title being something more consistent. They couldn't very well have called the Indiana Jones sequel Raiders of the Lost Ark 2, could they?

Sometimes, the creator may try to defy this by keeping around the characters or MacGuffin the work is titled after, but chances are this will simply pass the irrelevance from the title to another story element making said element The Artifact.

See also The Artifact. Artifact Name is this, but for names of things other than works. Often a direct result of Nothing Is the Same Anymore and Early-Installment Weirdness. Sometimes results in New Season, New Name. Happens often in poorly devised Alternate Universe Fan Fiction. Eventually this could result in Never Trust a Title. This can also happen on a larger scale with Network Decay. Compare Trivial Title.

Not to be confused with MacGuffin Title.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Modernism isn't very modern anymore. Postmodernism is also pretty old. The "Modern Breakthrough" is even older.
  • Also Art Nouveau, which hasn't been new since the 1890s.
  • The Birth of Venus (Botticelli): As it turns out, Botticelli never named his painting — it was art historians from the XIXth century who did that. And they, well, screwed up. The painting's subject is not Venus' birth per se but the newborn Venus about to step onto the island of Cythera (which was considered the place where she was born). A more fitting title would be Venus Arriving from her Birthplace.

    Audio Plays 
  • The characters of Le Donjon de Naheulbeuk leave the eponymous dungeon after the first season and never return to it ever again (though we still see a bit of it after that when the story focuses on Zangdar and Reivax, but they also leave it during season 2). Some of the characters even lampshade the fact that they did not even visit a single dungeon during some seasons.

  • Daniel Whitney created the Larry the Cable Guy persona for a radio show. Early on, he actually was pretending to be a cable guy, but that part of the character was phased out in favor of the Southern-flavored comedic character he is now. This was made plain when Whitney and his character starred in the movie Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.
  • "Alternative comedy" was a phrase coined in the '80s to describe the acts at London's Comedy Store. What people actually meant by it varied from "avant garde; thinks actual punchlines are trad" to "probably swears a lot" to "not a racist/sexist '70s club comic" (or any combination of the above). These days, most "mainstream" UK comedy is descended directly from the "alternative" scene (and the surviving racist/sexist club comics swear much more than them).
  • Hannah Gadsby's standup comedy act "Nanette": She initially intended to get an hour's worth of material from her brief encounter with a woman who was named Nanette, but found it couldn't be done, and the final product never mentioned Nanette at all. She first performed it for an event where your act had to have a title, and she'd already put "Nanette" on the form, so it had to stay.
  • Conversational Troping in the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle: Mitch says the above situation happens a lot at the Fringe, which is why he always tries to come up with a theme for his show before he has to fill in the form, about six months in advance. Which, in this case, was around the same time Tony Sheridan died, inspiring Mitch to wonder how so many people could all be the "fifth Beatle".

    Films — Animation 
  • The Disney Princess franchise is called that despite the fact that only half of the characters featured in that Franchise actually qualify as princesses. Brand new cast members at the Disney Parks are actually taught which ones are and which ones aren't princesses, as it's a popular piece of Disney trivia they get asked by guests often. For the record, only Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida and Anna are princesses. Elsa was one until her elevation to queen, while the rest of them don't qualify because the culture they come from doesn't have "princesses" (Pocahontas and Moana), come from cultures in which commoners marrying royals do not get promoted to royalty themselves (Cinderella and Belle), or never marry a prince in the first place (Mulan).
  • How to Train Your Dragon:
    • In the How to Train Your Dragon book series, capturing and training dragons is a rite of passage for the viking tribe to which protagonist Hiccup belongs, and How to Train Your Dragon is the name of an unhelpful Fictional Document written for this purpose (consisting solely of the words "Yell at it!"), which Hiccup then defies by using his own methods. In the film How to Train Your Dragon, vikings consider dragons their enemies until Hiccup secretly befriends, and trains, the dragon Toothless; there's no system in place until he founds it, and no book appears.
    • The way the title How to Train Your Dragon is written as if it were an instructional guide is because that's how the book series presented as in-universe ("How to Train Your Dragon by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, translated from the Old Norse by Cressida Cowell"). The films and many other spinoffs cannot replicate that, but the name of the series sticks.
  • The Disney film adaptation of The Jungle Book obviously isn't a book, although it does have a Storybook Opening.
  • In the Madagascar trilogy, the titular island is only a major part of the plot of the first movie. In the sequel, the island is featured at the start, but the animals leave it and wind up on mainland Africa. In the third film the protagonists go to Europe, and the island isn't featured at all (aside from a brief reference in which the villains are taken on a boat to the island). Animation reviewer Animated Heroine brought this up in her review of the third film.
    The Animated Heroine: Okay, so first of all, why are these movies still called Madagascar? None of this movie takes place in Madagascar. They're in Africa for like, five minutes, then Monte Carlo for like, ten, then the rest of the film takes place on a train and then Rome and then America.
  • Open Season's title referred to the upcoming hunting season, when hunters would be allowed to hunt animals, and the animals trying to avoid the hunters and fight back. The direct-to-video sequels largely throw this aside, with the second film focusing on domestic animals and the third film on a circus. The fourth film, a Halloween Episode, averts this by bringing back Shaw, the antagonistic hunter from the original film, and even has Open Season reopened.
  • Rio 2, unlike the first film, takes place in the Amazon.
  • For My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree (the fourth main installment of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Spin-Off franchise My Little Pony: Equestria Girls), the "My Little Pony" part of the title no longer has any justification. While the previous films (Equestria Girls, Rainbow Rocks and Friendship Games) did feature Equestrian characters traveling to this world, as well as some glimpses of Equestria, this film has neither. The magic coming from Equestria still influences the plot, and of course Sunset Shimmer is Equestrian-born, but that's it.
  • When The Land Before Time reached Spain, it was under the title "En Busca del Valle Encantado/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 no longer had any meaning.
  • 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 (or just "Lilo and Stitch"), but the memo wasn't given to the marketing team for The Movie in time for the name to be changed. Because of this, the name of the film makes no sense whatsoever; the film isn't specifically about Stitch, it isn't an adaptation of any TV series named "Stitch!" and it isn't more prominently Stitch-centric than the original 2002 film.
  • In-Universe in Turning Red. 4*Town was originally a four-man band before their fifth member joined, but they kept their original name.

  • Bally's Wizard!! was originally intended to be centered around a white-bearded medieval wizard who used magic. The game ended up being a tie-in to The Who's rock opera, with "Wizard" referring to the phrase "Pinball Wizard".
  • The very word "pinball" is an example. The "pin" in the word refers to a feature in the old "bagatelle" machines, which are the predecessors to the modern-day "pinball" machines.

  • The word "Podcast" in itself. Prior to the ubiquity of smartphones and widespread wifi on public transport, podcasts were designed as offline radio shows you could save to your mp3 Player, of which the Apple iPod was the most popular (hence the name). Nowadays, they're far more likely to be streamed on peoples' phones or laptops. As of 2022, Apple has discontinued the final actively-sold iPod (the iPod Touch), ensuring the name will continue to be archaic for the rest of the medium's existence. There is an entire generation of podcast listeners who have no idea why they're called that.
  • Used in-universe by LoadingReadyRun's Qwerpline: one of the town slogans (which change every episode) is "Nsburg: Home of The Tigers.'' "Tigers" doesn't refer to the local high school sports teams (Which are the "Literal Tigers"), but to the tigers at the Nsburg Zoo. Which they had in the 1960s.
  • 372 Pages We'll Never Get Back was named after the number of pages in the hosts' copy of Ready Player One, the first book they covered on the podcast. They've since gone on to cover other books that had more or fewer pages.
  • The Head Designer for Magic: The Gathering, Mark Rosewater, has a podcast called 'Drive to Work', which he records it on his daily commute. However, due to COVID-19, he is currently working from home, so the 'Drive to Work: Coronavirus Edition' isn't actually on his drive to work.

  • The BBC Radio 4 Extra sci-fi slot is called The Seventh Dimension, which was originally a play on the channel being BBC 7. The name of the channel was changed in 2011, but the name of the slot remains.
  • The Ricky Gervais Show: Ricky himself admits that the show evolved into "Karl says something MENTAL".
  • When KROQ dropped the idea of its yearly holiday music festivals being acoustic concerts, it changed the name from KROQ Acoustic Christmas to KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas. The shows are now no more acoustic than any other concert.
  • Dallas-area DJ Kidd Kraddick died in July 2013, but the supporting cast of Kidd Kraddick in the Morning continue to bear the title without the original star of the show.
  • The British radio station Hallam FM, which has expanded beyond the village of Hallam of Sheffield.
  • BBC Radio 4's Friday Night Comedy hour had a series in the run-up prior to the UK's 2010 General Election. The shows, presented on Mondays through Wednesdays, were still considered a part of the Friday Night Comedy hour. Lampshaded by the announcer saying that they were, confusingly, broadcast on Monday (or Tuesday or Wednesday) night.
  • Radio stations often change their call letters upon changing format and/or branding. Some radio stations have retained the call letters of a previous format, or in some cases owner. For example, WABC used to be owned by ABC but is currently owned by Citadel Broadcasting, and its Chicago sister WLS was founded by Sears, the World's Largest Store. But WGNA in Albany NY has them beat, as its call letters stand for a branding and format that has never been used on the station: Its original owner intended for it to be an FM sister to his religious station, with the call letters standing for Good News Albany. But it's been on air since day one as a country station, as the owner died and his family overturned his plans.
  • Online radios sometimes have FM or some frequency-like number (i.e. 106) appended to their names, even if they never had a non-online version. For that matter, the "radio" moniker itself, since they aren't directly broadcast via radio waves.

  • Back And Behind The Woods; The title was an in-joke on the part of the DM, being a more extreme form of the phrase "back woods". In context, it referred to the Hillbilly Horror ogres the party fought at the start of the RP. Eventually, the party is sent to a major cosmopolitan city, and their quest promises to lead them to another, even more densely crowded city, with no signs of there being any forests at all in between.
  • Despite rarely popping up every now and then, most of the plot in Campus Life takes place in space now.
  • Pokémon: Rise of the Rockets is named for the initial starting point of the story's main conflict—namely, Team Rocket's rise to power within the Kanto regions—but as the story continues to grow and the war with Team Rocket becomes less of a focus, the title grows further and further from relevance.
  • Airlocked stops executing culprits via airlock after round one. Round four brings the airlock back, but that's because it's a prequel.

  • Winamp. Despite its name, it's no longer a Windows-exclusive media player as versions of the software have been released for Linux, Mac OS, and Android.
    • An inverted situation happened in the DAW software LMMS, whose title originally stands for Linux Multimedia Studio. Then later versions adapted the software to Windows and MacOS.
  • While MikuMikuDance was originally made with Vocaloid music videos of Hatsune Miku in mind, it has since been utilised for non-musical CGI productions which have little or even nothing to do with Hatsune Miku at all.
  • The DirectX Application Programming Interface was named because its components all had a "Direct" prefix, like DirectPlay, DirectDraw, and Direct3D. Many of these old components have been retired in favor of newer standards that don't use the prefix, or opt to use an "X" prefix instead like Xinput or XACT. The "Direct" prefix still occasionally gets used, but it no longer follows the nomenclature that strictly and as such the name DirectX isn't as meaningful as it once was.

  • Twelfth Night: This Shakespearean play has no real title. Its title comes from the fact that it was commissioned to be performed for Twelfth Night Celebration (the night before January 6th). The full title is Twelfth Night, or What You Will.

    Visual Novels 
  • The first Ace Attorney game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was released in America after the third game in the series (Gyakuten Saiban 3) was already out in Japan. When it became obvious that the protagonist in the fourth game was not going to be Phoenix Wright, but a new character, Capcom changed the emphasis of the Western logos and branding to make Ace Attorney the franchise's title, while keeping the Phoenix Wright portion as a supertitle for the first two sequels.
  • Danganronpa literally means "bullet rebuttal", in reference to how you shoot arguments down during the class trial minigames. That means that this trope applies to the half of the series that doesn't feature class trials.
  • Starship Promise: Some of the later-released stories involve the Promise crew only in supporting roles, or not at all.
  • Starswirl Academy got its name when it was a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fangame, and was highly anticipated at the time. When the developers got mildly Screwed by the Lawyers and were asked to change the character's names and designs, the game became a generic Dating Sim. The Starswirl Academy title, however, was unchanged. Perhaps Starswirl is too generic of a name to be trademarked.
  • The Sunrider series is named after the assault carrier that is the player's mothership and base of operations. It gets blown to smithereens at the end of Sunrider: Liberation Day and is replaced by a completely different ship in the next game.

    Web Animation 
  • Animator vs. Animation: The premise originally started off with the animator, Alan, drawing up a stick figure (that would come to life) in each video in order to fight for fun with a different stick figure having their own skills. That all changed with the fourth installment, Animator vs. Animation IV, where it would introduce mainstay characters as well as the two sides of both Alan and his stick figure named The Second Coming stop fighting with a truce becoming True Companions. Since then, the spotlight is now given to The Second Coming and his friends The Fighting Stick Figures exploring many different websites and video games.
  • Barney Bunch was originally made when Barney hate was still at large, but soon coming to an end. Today, most Barney Bunch videos feature Drew Pickles as the main character instead.
  • Master Chief Sucks at Ordering stops being about Master Chief sucking at ordering things after the third episode. However, the series (and its episode titles) continue to reference the fact that Master Chief sucks at doing things. The reason the show wasn't simply called "Master Chief Sucks" to avoid this problem was presumably because another series already used that name; said series would then be permanently renamed to Arby 'n' the Chief.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • It started off the first 5 seasons as a comedy with the two title teams fighting over a boxed canyon in the middle of nowhere, while still visiting various places now and then. Starting with the 6th season, while the show is still for all purposes a comedy, it begins incorporating more action scenes and the two teams are now working together on an almost permanent basis. The only times the Reds and Blues are actually really fighting each other from season 6 onwards is in season 9 (which took place in the Epsilon Memory Unit) and season 11 (which took place after both teams survived a crash-landing at Crash Site Bravo).
    • The original subtitle for Seasons 1-5, Blood Gulch Chronicles, was inappropriate for Season 4 due to the large amount of time the show took place outside of Blood Gulch canyon. Averted from Season 6 onward, which use different subtitles that fit the story.
  • RWBY: The original show was originally marketed as being about a team of four with both names and signature colour schemes that could form the title "RWBY". Each girl received a prequel trailer that was named after her colour: The Red Trailer (about Ruby Rose), the White Trailer (about Weiss Schnee), the Black Trailer (about Blake Belladonna) and the Yellow Trailer (about Yang Xiao Long). However, the show itself featured a Cast Herd for Volumes 1-3 before using Volume 4 to transition into an Ensemble Cast from Volume 5. The show has also spawned a franchise named after it; every franchise work will have "RWBY" in the title, regardless of whether it features Team RWBY or not. The reason is that the show was originally going to be called Remnant because it's the world that's most important; but RWBY was seen as a much more attention-grabbing and marketable name.
  • Strong Bad Email now has Strong Bad answering tweets instead of emails.
  • Fallout Lore: The Storyteller was originally just a documentary series about events in the Fallout franchise backstory. Now it's about the guy who's telling the stories almost, if not more so, than the stories themselves.
  • How It Should Have Ended started off showing parody alternate endings of movies. The focus has since expanded to more general movie parodies, featuring scenes from much earlier in the movie and sometimes not even touching the ending at all. Although, a lot of the scenes the change from earlier in the movie would resolve the plot right there.
  • hololive GAMERS was intended to be a subgroup of Gamer Chicks within a group of otherwise "idol girls", with only Fubuki considered as both an idol and a gamer. As time went on, the line between a gamer and idol vanished as all of them streamed both activities and many members revealed themselves to be gamers of one stripe or another. As well, though it's mainly Sora, Suisei and AZKi who put the heaviest focus into being idol singers, the rest of the girls show themselves to be formidable on the singing stage. GAMERS now simply stands for an unnumbered generation that came between second and third generations.
  • The term Virtual YouTuber was coined by the Trope Maker Kizuna Ai, and it referred to how (as far as Kayfabe was concerned) she was a Virtual Celebrity — a sapient A.I. who used YouTube as a platform to connect with our world. Most of the later VTubers would ditch this A.I. persona in favour of simply playing an animated character through Motion Capture, but the name stuck. In addition, many primarily operate on sites other than YouTube, with Twitch proving popular after the success of groups like hololive spearheaded a shift towards livestreaming.

Alternative Title(s): Artefact Title