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Stephen King by Carrie?

"It has now reached a point where it doesn't entirely matter what the book is about,
just look at the cover... his name is in bigger letters than the title."
Introductory speech for a book reading session with Dave Barry
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When a creator — in performed media, usually the lead actor, but occasionally someone with a prominent and memorable supporting role — and (almost) always the most famous person involved in a production — is listed more prominently in the credits and all promotional material than even the title of the work itself.

A trope mostly associated with the cinema, but actually dating back at least as far as 19th-century theatre. Very often, the project in which our actor is appearing is a "star vehicle" — crafted specifically with them in mind. This is especially true in television, where the show itself will likely be named after our star. This is a classic litmus test as to whether the actor is a bona-fide A-lister, or just a prolific character actor or product of the Hollywood Hype Machine.

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In most New Media (such as early television, Video Games, and web series, among others), this tactic is used if they manage to recruit someone that people actually recognize, even if by Hollywood standards the actor is fairly low on the totem pole.

This can also apply to non-performed media, such as Literature or Comic Books, with the writer or artist's name taking precedence over that of their latest creation. With writers, it's commonly with those whose turnover rate is only a few months and who sell based more on name recognition (mainly at airports), while artists are the flavor of the month and are jumping from title to title (often even if it's only for the cover).

Note that, in Music, all musicians are billed above the title of the album or single as a matter of course, so please don't add any examples there.

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Contrast with: Advertising by Association (when the Creator's past works are included as a Tagline for this work); And Starring (when special attention is drawn to the last creator in a list).

May overlap with:


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Stan Lee, whenever he deigned to release a new "project" (like, say, Nightcat).

    Films — Animated 
  • This caused some trouble during the promotion of the movie Aladdin because of contract disputes with Robin Williams. During filming, Williams asked that the Genie not take up more than 25 percent of any movie poster, and that his appearance in the film be downplayed. Both of these requests were completely ignored. One only need look at the movie's original poster to see how badly; not only does the Genie take up almost half the poster, he's easily the biggest character on there. This caused Williams to swear off Disney, and the Genie was voiced by Dan Castellaneta in the second movie and the TV series.
  • Dreamworks Animation, which has always been very fond of Celebrity Voice Actor, took that to its logical conclusion and fell hard for this trope with Shrek and Shark Tale - to the point where there was a backlash (critics panned Shark Tale partly for this reason). They continue to use celebrity voice actors, and placed their names above the title for Megamind and Kung Fu Panda.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Stephen King is probably the most famous example in modern literature. His name takes up half the cover of the book sometimes.
  • Terry Pratchett made fun of this at one point, saying that such books are usually pretty bad - and then he himself became one of the authors who always gets this.
  • Tom Clancy. Any book of his has his name in large print right at the top.
  • Jim Butcher has been getting this on more recent releases.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Asimov's Book of Facts: The 1991 edition has Dr Asimov's name take up half of the cover.
    • Banquets Of The Black Widowers: Every cover puts Dr. Asimov's name in larger font and at the top of the book. Most put his full name, but Grafton included only "Asimov".
    • The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories: Since the 1978 Panther publication, Dr Asimov's name is always at the top of the book cover. Before then, the title was listed more prominently.
    • The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr:
    • The Complete Robot:Naturally by this point Dr Asimov is famous enough that his name is plastered across the covers of each book, most of the time at least as large as the title itself. The only exception is the Dutch translation, De Totale Robot, where the 1984 cover puts his name at the bottom.
    • The Foundation Trilogy:
      • The 1963 Science Fiction Book Club copy of The Foundation Trilogy Omnibus printed his name above the title, with "Isaac" in roughly the same size as the title, but with "Asimov" about 50% larger. The full name is underlined and coloured green.
      • The Avon and Equinox cover for The Foundation Trilogy Omnibus from 1974 printed Dr Asimov's name above the title, but at the same size.
      • Bastei Lubbe's 1983 German translation of The Foundation Trilogy (changed to Die Psychohistoriker) places Dr Asimov's name in slightly smaller font above the title.
    • Foundation (1951):
      • The French translation, published by Gallimard in 1957, includes Dr Asimov's name above the title in much smaller font.
      • The Ace Books 1962 edition of The 1,000 Year Plan (red cover) places Dr Asimov's name above the title, in slightly smaller font. The older blue covers included his name at the bottom left of the cover instead.
      • The Panther editions consistently published Dr Asimov's name above the title, ranging from "same size" to "three times the size".
      • The Del Rey cover from 1983 makes "Isaac" three times as large as the title, and "Asimov" twice as large again.
      • The Bantam Spectra cover from 1991 only uses "ASIMOV", but makes it twice as large as the title and Tagline combined.
      • The Harper Collins (UK) cover from 1994 published Dr Asimov's name large enough to take up the top third, even larger than the focal point of the cover.
      • The Harper Voyager (UK) cover from 2016 published Dr Asimov's name at the top, somewhat larger than the title, but smaller than the sun and spaceship on the cover.
    • Foundation and Empire:
      • Gnome Press's cover from 1952 (with a red background) includes a Tagline above the title, "A new science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov".
      • Ace Books's The Man Who Upset the Universe cover from 1963 includes a Tagline above the title, "Isaac Asimov's greatest science-fiction novel".
      • Panther's cover from 1964 listed Dr Asimov's name first, then the title in All Caps, and then a Tagline. Isaac Asimov is in font twice as large as the other two, although all three combined take up less than a quarter of the space on the cover.
      • Panther's cover from 1965 listed ASIMOV first, then the title at one-third the size, and followed by a Tagline in font slightly smaller than the title. All three combined take up about a quarter of the space on the cover.
      • Avon's cover from 1966 listed Isaac Asimov first, then the title (with FOUNDATION three times as large as the rest of the title).
      • Heyne's cover from 1966 has a Tagline first, then Isaac Asimov, and then the title, placing the title of the work roughly one-third of the way down the cover.
      • Panther's cover from 1969 listed "asimov" first, at roughly three times the font size of the title.
      • The French translation of 1974 listed both the author and the title in small font on the same line at the bottom of the cover, giving the author's name first.
      • The French translation of 1976, by Denoel, puts Isaac Asimov's name first, then the title of this book.
      • Panther's cover from 1979 puts "asimov" at the top of the cover (just under Panther), and three times as large as the title.
      • Del Rey's cover from 1983 lists the title beneath Dr Asimov's name, making the two lines of the title combined just as large as his first name, and his last name is larger than both of them combined.
    • Second Foundation:
      • The 1964 and 1965 Panther editions puts the author, title, and tagline in the top third of the cover, making each one in successively smaller font.
      • The 1968 Panther edition puts "asimov" at the top of the cover (but below the publisher credits) and includes the title at one-third the font size of the author's name.
      • The 1965 German translation (by Heyne) for Second Foundation includes Dr Asimov's name on the top of the cover, with their title, Alle Wege fuhren nach Trantor, in slightly larger font.
      • The 1975 Panther edition puts "asimov" at the top of the cover (but below the publisher credits) and includes the title at one-quarter the font size of the author's name.
      • The 1976 Bruguera edition, a Spanish translation, puts "ASiMOV" at the top, taking up almost a quarter of the cover, before fitting the title between the author and cover image.
      • The 1979 Denoel edition puts "isaac asimov" at the top of the cover (but below the publisher series credits) and includes the title at twice the font size of the author's name.
      • The Del Rey cover from 1983 makes "Isaac" three times as large as the title, and "Asimov" twice as large again.
      • The Del Rey cover from 1986 puts their tagline on the top of the cover, then Dr Asimov's name, and in slightly smaller font below that is the title of this book.
      • The Bantam Spectra cover from 1991 puts "ASIMOV" on the top of the cover, then their tagline in much smaller font, and then the title of this book in slightly larger font than the tagline, so that this can be fit in the top quarter of the cover to leave space for the cover art.
      • The Harper Collins cover from 1995 puts "Isaac" on top, at roughly the same font size of the title (which is on the bottom of the cover, just above the tagline), and "ASIMOV" is about four times as large, covering a third of the cover.
    • Foundation's Edge:
      • The 1982 Doubleday edition puts Dr Asimov's name at the top of the cover, in huge font, with the title in slightly smaller font beneath it.
      • The 1983 Granada edition puts "asimov" in large font across the top of the cover, then the Tagline in much smaller font, and then the title, in large font that's still only a quarter the size of Dr Asimov's name.
      • The 1983 Del Rey cover includes a tagline at the top of the cover, saying this book was on The New York Times Bestseller List for six months, then Dr Asimov's name in large letters across the book, then the title in font one-third the size, and then a second tagline, mentioning that this book is part of the Foundation series.
      • The 1987 Del Rey edition puts two Taglines at the top of the cover, then Dr Asimov's name across, with the title underneath in slightly smaller font.
    • Forward the Foundation: No matter what cover you find, every one includes Dr Asimov's name above the title Forward the Foundation, many of them giving equal or greater size to his name versus the book's title.
    • Foundation And Chaos:
      • The Dutch translation, published by Meulenhoff in 1998, includes the tagline, then the series title, and then Bear's name (in larger font), and then the book's title (also in larger font).
      • The German translation, published by Heyne in 2000, includes Bear's name above the title in (slightly) larger font.
      • The French translation, published by Presses Pocket in 2002, includes the tagline, then Bear's name (in the largest font), then the series title (in small font like the tagline), and then the title (in medium-sized font).
      • Another German cover, published by Heyne in 2006, uses an embossed "Greg Bear" at the top of the book, and puts the title at the bottom of the cover.
    • Foundations Triumph:
      • The Dutch translation, published by Meulenhoff in 1999, includes the tagline, then the series title, and then Bear's name (in larger font), and then the book's title (also in larger font).
      • The German translation, published by Heyne in 2000, includes Bear's name above the title in (slightly) larger font.
      • The French translation, published by Presses Pocket in 2002, includes the tagline, then Bear's name (in the largest font), then the series title (in small font like the tagline), and then the title (in medium-sized font).
      • Another German cover, published by Heyne in 2006, uses an embossed "Greg Bear" at the top of the book, puts the title at the bottom of the cover, and incorporates a Tagline beneath that.
    • Franchise:
      • When published in IF, Isaac Asimov's name appeared above the title to catch the reader's eye first (and James L Quinn put it first in the magazine). At this point, Dr Asimov had been successfully publishing Science Fiction for over twenty years, so editors were eager to use the Asimov name to sell issues.
      • When published as a novel in 1985, a yellow box gives three lines of detail; "Isaac Asimov", "Franchise", and "A Creative Classics".
    • Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories: Regardless of which title or volume you're looking at, "Isaac Asimov" is sized at one-third of the cover, always making it larger than the rest of the title.
    • Nine Tomorrows: All of the covers, except for a UK Book Club cover, lists Isaac Asimov's name before the title. Pan Books, Del Rey, and Publicacoes Europa America have covers where his name is around twice as large as said title.
    • Possible Tomorrows: On the 1971 Pyramid Books cover, the Tagline with Groff Conklin and Isaac Asimov's names is written above the title of the Anthology.
    • The Rest of the Robots: The author's name appears above the title in every publication of this book, and only sometimes is the publishing company included above Dr Asimov's name. Some of the time, the title is so small it looks the "Asimov" is the name of the book instead of the author.
    • Science Fiction Favorites: The Audible cover places Dr Asimov's name at the top of the cover, with "ASIMOV" in font larger than the two lines of title combined.
    • Science Fiction Verhalen 3: The cover of the third volume says "Isaac Asimov Science Fiction Verhalen".
    • "The Ugly Little Boy": For the Tor Double-Sided Book, Dr. Asimov's name is printed as large as the title itself and above everything except "Tor double no. 9".
    • Words of Science and the History Behind Them: Every edition puts Dr Asimov's name at the top of the cover, usually with the title just underneath it and at roughly the same font size.
  • Isaac Asimov and Janet Asimov's The Norby Chronicles: All three omnibuses fit Janet and Isaac Asimov at the top of the cover, then mention another book by Isaac Asimov before including the title.
  • Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg:
    • The Positronic Man: The authors have their name emblazoned over the title (and usually at the top of the cover). Sometimes the cover only shows their last names, which are more recognizable.
    • The Ugly Little Boy (1991): Every cover of this book (including both versions of the title) publish both authors' names above the title, several covers displaying the names larger than the title itself.
  • The initial volumes of the Redwall series had Brian Jacques's name in considerably smaller text than the titles, but as time went on and he became more famous as a children's author, newer releases began featuring it prominently in huge capital letters at the top of their covers.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Science Fiction Verhalen 2: The cover of the second volume says "Robert Heinlein Science Fiction Verhalen".
  • Peter Haining's Space Movies: The first version of Space Movies has Peter Haining's name written as the presenter of this Anthology.
  • Sam Moskowitz's Modern Masterpieces of Science Fiction: The 1973 Doorway Into Time cover (by Manor Books) puts all short fiction authors at the top of the cover, then lists the title and Tagline. However, the editor, Sam Moskowitz, is included below the tagline.
  • Robert Silverberg: The Ugly Little Boy (1991): Every cover of this book (including both versions of the title) publish the authors' names above the title, several covers displaying the names larger than the title itself.
  • William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy Read Four Science Fiction Classics: The covers of the original LP sleeves each describe their contents by listing the author's name, the title (or series title, then story title), and then the narrator at the top of the sleeve, leaving plenty of room for the cover design.
  • Brian Aldiss's A Science Fiction Omnibus: The 1968 cover for More Penguin Science Fiction has the editor credits preceding the title of the volume.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien tends to get this treatment on all of his work except for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with publishers relying on familiarity with Tolkien's name due to these books' popularity. Especially prevalent on the books published posthumously, where Tolkien's name is always in larger font than the editor's, and usually larger than the actual title.
  • On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart pointed out to Bill O'Reilly that he should consider getting a new cover designer because the title of his book reads, "Bill O'Reilly Killing Lincoln."

    Live-Action TV 
  • This trope is especially memorable when spoken aloud by an announcer:
  • In season 1 of Space: 1999, both Martin Landau and Barbara Bain are billed ahead of the show title (and both of them get "Starring" credit). Not so season 2.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the classic series, the Doctor's face (from partway through the Second Doctor's tenure) was always shown ahead of the title — arguably billing for the actor since (per usual BBC policy at the time) actors were never credited in the opening titles.
    • In the new series, the actor playing the Doctor and the actor/actress playing the companion are both billed ahead of the show title, emphasizing the program's giving a stronger showing to the assistants. The two-part episode "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" took things to an extreme by flashing the names of not only the lead actor but FIVE companion actor names before the show title.
  • David Tennant and Olivia Colman were listed ahead of the title on Broadchurch.
  • A rare live-action TV example of a voice artist getting top billing, and ahead of the title as well: The Voice of Peter Jones ... Simon Jones / David Dixon ... Sandra Dickinson / Mark Wing Davey in ... The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • ITV's 2000 production of The Railway Children billed three actors above the title: Jenny Agutter led off, Gregor Fisher was next, and Richard Attenborough got the And Starring above the title. Then they billed the rest of the main cast.
  • Jonathan Rhys Meyers in some of The Tudors promotional materials.
  • Zooey Deschanel in promotional material for New Girl, but not in the credits.
  • Richard Dean Anderson:
    • Anderson got this credit in Stargate SG-1.
    • He was also billed above the title for the later (and much briefer) UPN series Legend.
    • RDA's SG-1 co-star Amanda Tapping got above-title placement in Sanctuary.
  • 1990s sci-fi franchises from legendary creators tended to bill the creator above and as a part of the show title.
  • Lynda Carter and Loni Anderson were billed above the title (side by side) for their private eye series Partners in Crime.
  • Jack Elam ... Gary Busey ... Mark Hamill ... as The Texas Wheelers. There's a mix of actors you don't see every day! This was Busey's first regular series role, and in 1975 Hamill was an unknown; Elam, a prolific character actor known for his "lazy" left eye, was by far most famous of the cast members.
  • Diagnosis: Murder offered a variant: The opening credits began with the series title followed by "Starring Dick Van Dyke"... but at the end, the eye chart passed over by the magnifying glass reads "Dick Van Dyke Diagnosis Murder", with the show's name in smaller type (as you'd expect with an eye chart).
  • This trope is almost universal for Character Title crime dramas:
    • The rotating segments on The NBC Mystery Movie tended to get this, as the core concept for the series was star-driven mystery dramas headlined by recognizable names. The trope persisted for segments that ended up airing as regular series, e.g., Jack Klugman as ... Quincy, M.E.; Dennis Weaver as ... McCloud.
    • Usually averted with series produced by Quinn Martin Productions (or QM Productions, as they were later styled) regardless of how well known the actors were at the time, despite most of their shows falling into this category (star-driven shows named for their characters). For example, Buddy Ebsen's long run as the star of The Beverly Hillbillies would have justified his being billed above the title on Barnaby Jones. The exceptions, curiously, were both for stars called Robert: Forster in Banyon and Conrad in QM Productions's final series A Man Called Sloane (though not for another Robert, Stack in Most Wanted). For Sloane, Conrad actually got the coveted "Robert Conrad is" credit.
    • David Janssen got this more than once after The Fugitive:
      • David Janssen as ... O'Hara, United States Treasury.
      • David Janssen as ... Harry O. (Muted slightly in season 2 as the text "Harry O" was used as a design element and kept filling and refilling the screen before the above titles appeared.)
    • Joe Don Baker as ... Eischied.
    • James Stewart Starring as ... Hawkins in [title of episode], an unsuccessful CBS attempt to clone the NBC Mystery Movie format.
    • Raymond Burr as ... Ironside.
    • Gene Barry ... in Burke's Law. Gene's name was not only above the title, it was actually slightly bigger than the title.
    • Playing the title character in Spenser: For Hire finally got Robert Urich this trope (in giant screen-filling text!) after garnering visibility in a string of variously-successful series (most prominently Vega$). His next few series saw him falling behind the title, but was billed ahead on The Lazarus Man before dropping back again for his final series, Love Boat: The Next Wave and Emeril.
    • Also for Avery Brooks in the spin-off, A Man Called Hawk.
    • Angela Lansbury in ... Murder, She Wrote.
    • Jack Warden:
      • Jack Warden as ... Jigsaw John, a short-lived 1976 cop show based on a real detective.
      • Jack Warden in ... Crazy Like a Fox.note 
    • George Kennedy as ... Sarge.
    • James Earl Jones Starring in ... Paris.
    • An unusual arrangement for Angie Dickinson's 1980 private-eye comeback series: Angie Dickinson ... Also Starring [supporting cast] ... Cassie & Co. (This trope was not in effect for her earlier signature series, Police Woman.)
    • Similarly, Robert Loggia, then the supporting cast, then Mancuso F.B.I.
  • Likewise for star-driven Character Title spy dramas:
  • Also, 1950s UK Character Title adaptations of legendary medieval heroes:
  • Star-driven Character Title sitcoms also get this more often:
    • Perhaps surprisingly, consistently averted for Lucille Ball. The exception is her last sitcom, the opening credits for which led with Lucille Ball in ... Life With Lucy.
    • Ernest Borgnine ... in McHale's Navy.
    • Shirley Booth ... Starring as Hazel.
    • Diahann Carroll ... as ... Julia.
    • When Lt. Fish was spun off from Barney Miller, we got Abe Vigoda in ... Fish.
    • Madeline Kahn in ... Oh Madeline.
    • Karen ... Valentine ... Karen Valentinenote  ... as Karen. This short-lived sitcom came about following her breakout role on Room 222.
    • Shirley MacLaine in ... Shirley's World.
    • Blair Brown in the Lifetime run of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.
    • Mary Tyler Moore as ... Annie McGuire. (Not so for her other comeback series, Mary and New York News.)
    • Juliet Prowse Starring as ... Mona McCluskey.
    • Dabney Coleman:
      • Dabney Coleman in ... The "Slap" Maxwell Story.
      • Dabney Coleman in Drexell's Class.
      • Averted for his other sitcoms, Buffalo Bill and Madman of the People.
  • Two failed 1970s sitcoms followed the So-and-So in Show format to the extreme of using the whole thing as the full promotional title of the series.
    • The 1974 MTM series that Paul Sand got out of his well-noticed one-off appearance on Mary Tyler Moore (where he played the lovesick IRS auditor) was promoted and billed as Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. It was canceled after 15 episodes.
    • Stockard Channing in Just Friends was the full promotional title of Channing's failed 1979 sitcom vehicle, later retooled into an equally unsuccessful The Eponymous Show (with Channing's credit after the title this time).
  • The Eponymous Show tends to lean toward The So-and-So Show ... Starring So-and-So, but this trope sometimes appears:
    • Jimmy Stewart got credited ahead of the title on The Jimmy Stewart Show.
    • This is one way to look at Mary Tyler Moore: Mary was not only billed ahead of the title, she replaced the title altogether. The official name of the series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, did not appear in the opening credits.
    • Dick Van Dyke ... Hope Lange in ... The New Dick Van Dyke Show. (Not so for the original series, or the 1988 series The Van Dyke Show.)
    • Bob Newhart only used this trope at the start of his TV career, interestingly enough:
      • For his most famous series, it was "Bob Newhart in ... The Bob Newhart Show".
      • In Newhart, his name came after the title.
      • Likewise Bob, his third series where he played a cartoonist, had Bob ... Starring Bob Newhart.
  • Bill Cosby zigzagged this trope:
  • Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton in later seasons of All in the Family. Before-the-title billing was originally offered only to O'Connor, who insisted that it also be extended to Stapleton. This also carried over into Archie Bunker's Place.
  • O'Connor received above-the-title billing for In the Heat of the Night, but only in the last season after a cast shake-up.
  • Judd Hirsch in ... Taxi. This one is odd in that the show was not tailored specifically for him; though he was the nominal lead, he was also part of a strong ensemble cast. Also, in the years since the show's cancellation, his co-stars Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Tony Danza have all enjoyed greater success than he.
  • Wayne Rogers ... Lynn Redgrave in ... House Calls (seasons 1 and 2).
  • In addition to his drama/dramedy Character Title series noted above, the sitcom version of The Bad News Bears had Jack Warden in ... ahead of the title.
  • The star's "Starring Gabe Kaplan" plate appeared before the titles on Welcome Back, Kotter.
  • Eddie Albert tended to do it in pairs:
  • Bill Bixby routinely got this after My Favorite Martian:
  • Mike ... Connors ... is ... Mannix.
  • Chuck Norris ... is ... Walker, Texas Ranger.
  • Jane Seymour is ... Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
  • Hart to Hart had this with its stars: Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers and Lionel Stander. Specifically, after film of the Harts' Gulfstream jet taking off, film of Robert's character Jonathan Hart is seen on that plane, followed by Jonathan driving down the road, and Robert's name at bottom left of that scene. Similarly, Stefanie's character Jennifer Hart (Jonathan's wife) is shown doing her hair aboard that same plane, and then also driving on the road (albeit she is seen driving around a curved section); her name is at the bottom left of her shot as well. Finally, Lionel Stander's character Max is seen, but not on the plane; he is first driving a right-wheel-drive car, and then in later seasons, a left-wheel-drive car (both with a smaller credit for him ["And Lionel Stander"] at the bottom left of his shot). This is all set to preliminary strains of the Hart to Hart opening theme, and narration by Lionel Stander in his character of Max:
    Lionel Stander (as Max): This is my boss, Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire— he's quite a guy" (on Robert Wagner's part of the intro).
    This is Mrs. H— she's gorgeous; she's one lady who knows how to take care of herself" (on Stefanie Powers' portion; in the first season, he said, "What a terrific lady!").
    (Finally, Max himself:) By the way, my name is Max— I take care of both of 'em, which ain't easy, 'cause when they met, it was murder! (In season one, the last part of his portion was, "'cause their hobby is...murder!")

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