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"Ignore when people say that the length of a game's title is not important, that a title should just convey what the game is about. They're just jealous theirs isn't as long."

Many works of fiction are named using a "Title Colon Subtitle" template. Sometimes, however, the subtitle becomes an important part of the original work's identity, and when a sequel, spin-off or crossover with another work is made, a second subtitle is tacked on after the first. When written out, this looks ridiculous, as you have to use a colon to indicate each separate subtitle. That's Colon Cancer; Electric Boogaloo carried way too far.

Some publishers try to avoid this by using a dash instead of one of the colons, while at times when a work (especially a movie) is exported, they feel the need to add this to give a more clear idea about the plot; this is called The Foreign Subtitle.

If it's a sequel, then it's Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Star Wars video games are notorious for this, as are titles derived from The World of Darkness Tabletop Games. Generally, most games from a non-game franchise will suffer from this.


A pun on the medical disease of the same name.

TV Tropes: Colon Cancer: The Examples: The List:

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    Anime: Manga 
  • The Berserk movie adaptation trilogy, Berserk: The Golden Age Arc is a typical case. Each movie is Berserk followed by The Golden Age Arc #, followed by the subtitle. Viz Media solves it with a combination of colons and hyphens, resulting in examples like Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I - The Egg of the King.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has a second season titled Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Second Gig, as well as a sequel movie titled Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society.
  • Every Japanese name for the Pokémon movies, once the seasons started getting subtitles. Example: Pocket Monsters Advanced Generation the Movie: The Pokémon Ranger and the Prince of the Sea: Manaphy. That's three subtitles. Only two colons though, luckily.
  • Super Robot Wars: OriginalGeneration: Divine Wars, though no one seems sure whether both colons are necessary. The OVA Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: The Animation also qualifies.
    • As does Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: The Inspector
  • Fist of the North Star has a series consisting of three movies and two OVAs released between 2006 and 2008 titled Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken, translated by the film's licensing distributor as Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior. Each installment uses that title along with its own subtitle, resulting in the following:
    • Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken: Raō Den: Jun'ai no Shō (Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior: Legend of Raoh: Chapter of Death in Love)
    • Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken: Yuria Den (Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior: Legend of Yuria)
    • Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken: Raō Den: Gekitō no Shō (Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior: Legend of Raoh: Chapter of Fierce Fight)
    • Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken: Toki Den (Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior: Legend of Toki)
    • Shin Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken: Zero: Kenshirō Den (Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior: Zero: Legend of Kenshiro)
  • Giant Robo: The Animation: The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • From the late 30s of the dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, the logo gets a subtitle that makes it read Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Earthbound Immortals: Unite to Duel (It's animated - "Earthbound Immortals" is under the logo at first, and a second later, it fades to read "Unite to Duel")
  • Gintama: The Movie: The Final Chapter: Be Forever Yorozuya parodies this.
  • The Japanese versions of Sands of Destruction use subtitles with tildes to differentiate adaptations (often an important thing to do, as plots and characterizations vary wildly between them). The anime is called World Destruction ~Sekai Bokumetsu Rokunin~,note  and the manga is called World Destruction ~Futari no Tenshi~.note  The game was known as World Destruction ~Michibikareshi Ishi~.note  The English translations dispensed with all this and simply titled them all Sands of Destruction, necessitating fans to specify which medium they were talking about.
  • Sword Art Online has spawned a lot of spin-off material, and those titles get into this territory. The best example from this franchise would probably be Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online IV: Third Squad Jam: Betrayer's Choice. Phew!
    • That one has now been one-upped by its fifth volume: Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online V: Third Squad Jam: Betrayer's Choice: Finish. This still stands as the longest title of any Sword Art Online light novel volume.
    • On top of that, the third season of the anime, which adapts the Alicization arc, was split into three airing schedules. The first 24 episodes were simply known as Sword Art Online: Alicization. Then the next 12 episodes added the sub-subtitle Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld. The final 11 episodes concluded with Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld: The Final Season. Wow.
  • The Lupin III yearly specials added on subtitles, beginning with 1998's Memories of the Flame ~Tokyo Crisis~, and only getting longer from there, peaking out with 2005's An Angel's Tactics ~Fragments of a Dream Are the Scent of Murder~. After that, the subtitles were reined in a bit to be shorter, and a couple of specials didn't have them at all. With the specials revival in 2019, the newer titles are brief, and they seem to be done with the subtitles.
  • Anime adaptations of the Fate Series include the following examples:

    Comic: The Books 

    Fan: The Works 
  • Parodied to great effect in the fanfic "Michael Bay Presents: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Revenge of the Unicorn God Slayer, Part 1: The Horn of Destiny".
  • Since the Digimon Tamers fandom has always had a running gag of making up fictional Digimon games (for those who don't know, Tamers treats an unspecified version of the franchise as a Show Within a Show), several authors have come up with and made reference to Digimon Explorers: Heroes Of The Space Time Continuum, Part Sixteen: The Brave New Digital World: The Attack of The Seventy Foot Kunemon From Beyond The Stars.
    • Aaaand make that a flock of Digimon Explorer / Digimon World/miscellaneous other Digimon spin offs, some fake and some made long by adding on random words. For instance, Digimon World 2 was referenced as Digimon World Two: An Old New World: Heroes Divided in one fanfic and Digimon World got referenced in another as The Start Of Digimon: The Tale Of The First Digidestined, which was hinted to have an even longer title in the Japanese release.

    Films: The Animation 

    Films: The Live-Action Series 

    Literature: Lite 
  • The Parody of Sarah Palin's autobiography is called Going Rouge: Sarah Palin: An American Nightmare.
  • While books are usually immune to this trope, Star Wars novels seem to have it in spades The worst offenders are some of the New Jedi Order series, such as Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream. Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction: A Novel of the Old Republic also deserves a mention. Its sequel dropped the final colon. Star Wars: Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader tries to avoid it by using an em dash on its copyright page.
  • Book based on the World of Warcraft MMO lore, World of Warcraft: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King.
    • Also World of Warcraft: Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects, World Of Warcraft: Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War, and World of Warcraft: Vol'jin: Shadows of the Horde.
  • Justin Bieber's official biography, Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story.
  • For some reason, almost every book plugged on The Daily Show (or The Colbert Report) has a subtitle, but only one to date has had two. America: Our Next Chapter: Tough Questions, Straight Answers.
  • Parodied in The Colbert Report with Stephen's terrible vanity-published novel Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure.
  • Older Than Radio: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan" has the seldom-used full title "Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment".
  • While every book in the Left Behind series has at least one colon, Assassins: Assignment: Jerusalem, Target: Antichrist packs a whopping three colons into one title without irony.
  • Every single book from the second series onward in Warrior Cats. Each book has the initial title Warriors, and two subtitles to indicate which specific series it belongs to, and the title of the book itself (for example: Warriors: The New Prophecy #3: Dawn, Warriors: Power of Three #2: Dark River, and Warriors: Omen of the Stars #1: The Fourth Apprentice).
  • Lincoln Alexander, a former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, managed to cram two colons and a comma into the title of Go to School, You're a Little Black Boy: The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander: A Memoir.
  • In a nonfiction example, Kent M. Keith wrote Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments: Finding Personal Meaning in a Crazy World.
  • The 2010 biography Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1, 1907-1948: Learning Curve
  • As if his blindness weren't enough, adventurer Erik Weihenmayer contracted Colon Cancer in his autobiography, Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See: My Story.
  • I Am Number Four has a series of (important) supplemental e-novellas called "The Lost Files." The first title in this series, which sets the insanely high bar for story title-age everywhere, is I Am Number Four: The Lost Files: Six's Legacy. The rest of them (Nine's Legacy, The Fallen Legacies) follow this trend.
  • Strength & Justice has two books with colons already in their individual titles, so it's written out as Strength & Justice: Side: Strength and Strength & Justice: Side: Justice in full.
  • The Elder Scrolls: The tie-in lorebooks to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online. The first volume in each, respectively, are The Elder Scrolls Online: Tales of Tamriel - Vol. I: The Land and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - The Skyrim Library, Vol 1: The Histories.

    Live Action: The TV Series 
  • Babylon 5's second Spin-Off only consisted of one movie, but since it was supposed to be a pilot episode as well, it had both an episode and a series title. As a result, it ended up being called Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight (though the third part is often left off).
  • When Freddy Krueger got his own show, simply calling it Freddy's Nightmares didn't do. No, this is A Nightmare on Elm Street show, and people had to know it! Thus its full name became Freddy's Nightmares: A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series.
  • A fake Police Procedural series on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim is entitled NTSF:SD:SUV:: which stands for "National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle". The name itself, obviously, is a rip on the naming conventions of real police procedurals such as CSI and the Law & Order series (most notably SVU). To complete the parody, the last two colons are purely decorative.
  • One of the original shows for Disney+ is about a group of students putting on a production of the stage adaptation of High School Musical, appropriately titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
    • The behind-the-scenes special is, of course, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Special.
    • The holiday special is High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Holiday Special.
      • Exaggerated with the soundtrack for said holiday special, which is High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Holiday Special: The Official Soundtrack.

    Music: The Musical 
  • Coheed and Cambria's third and fourth albums are named Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness and Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow.
    • They have a song titled The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth.
  • Videogame: The Movie: The Game: The Cover Album.
  • Compost Ambient Selection: Sleeping Beauty: Compost Relax Works: Compiled By Minus 8.
  • Italian power metal band Domine's third album is called Stormbringer Ruler: The Legend of the Power Supreme, and closes with a track called Dawn of a New Day - A Celtic Requiem: The Chronicles of the Black Sword - The End of an Era part 4.
  • Nicki Minaj's Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded: The Re-Up.
  • The seventh entry in Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series: The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack.

    Pod: The Cast 

    Table Top: The Games 

     Butai Theatre: The Stage 

    Video: The Games 

    Web: The Original 
  • AMV Hell is a series of short pieces of popular anime with accompanying music for comic effect. The third one was feature length, and called AMV Hell III: The Motion Picture. When the fourth one was also feature length, they decided to call it AMV Hell III: The Motion Picture II: AMV Hell IV: The Last One.
    • Amusingly enough, it technically was not "the last one", as they released the contest-based "AMV Hell: Championship Edition", the pornographic "AMV Hell: Divided by 0", a sequel to the equally pornographic "AMV Hell 0," and several relatively short collections of "AMV Minis."
    • Toned down with AMV Hell V: Dedicated to Dio and AMV Hell 6.66: This Is (Not) The End.
  • The second season of Decker is referred to as Decker: Port of Call: Hawaii.
  • The e-novel EHUD Prelude To Apocalypse was recently revealed to be short for American Inheritance: Trilogy I: Tales of the E.H.U.D.s: Book I: E.H.U.D.: Prelude to Apocalypse.
  • Team Fourstar's dub of Dragon Ball Z: Return of Cooler received the title TFS Movie: Cooler 2: The Return of Cooler's Revenge - The Reckoning.
  • Amazon's original webseries Alpha House has a gaffer who intentionally dropped a light during Sen. Guzman's rebuttal to one of Obama's speeches, because he was told to do it. He was subsequently fired by Guzman's chief of staff, leading to what is known as "Gaffergate". When asked on an interview whom it was, he says he can't say, but it goes high up in the campaign, and is revealed in his book A Thousand Watts in Your Face, Bitch: Gaffing the Truth: Why Things Got Like This. He even pronounces the colons. It's got them so you know it's important.
  • Honest Trailers sometimes invokes this in the closing joke, a parody title of the movie in question. For example, Jumanji is called The Jungle Book: The Game: The Movie, and its 2017 sequel is The Jungle Book: The Game: The Movie: The Reboot: The Video Game.
  • Yahtzee, in one episode of Zero Punctuation, got so sick of colons that he decided to pronounce them as a dry heave.
  • Half Life: Side Story: Gaiden: HUNT DOWN FREE MAN features three colons in title.
  • The Muppets fansite Tough Pigs has a review podcast about the ABC sitcom The Muppets called The Muppets: The Sitcom: The Podcast.
  • StephenPlays: In Episode 7 of their Super Mario 3D World Let's Play, Stephen and Hayley rename the game Super Barry & Larry 3D Cat Land: The Movie: The Game: Based On The Comic: Which Is Also Based On Real Life Events.
  • Chuggaaconroy during an interview with LaughingboyLP, as an allusion and parody to how he usually introduces his videos , goes "Welcome back to Tony Hawk's The Elder Dogma Shadows of Metal Souls Downhill Jam of the Cooking Xeno Mama Chronicles Gear Solid 2 Turbo HD Remix & Knuckles, Featuring Dante from the Devil May Cry Series."
  • Internet Historian discusses this in his In the Field video "food.", noting that it's always easy to tell a work which will fail with its debut by the number of colons in its title.

    The Western: The Animation 

    Other: Uncategorized Stuff 
  • Most students who have quoted other works in an academic paper have undoubtedly come across this phenomenon, since many methods for citation require putting the author's name in front of the quoted work's title, with a colon in between. If the work title itself has a colon, then you have instant colon cancer.
    • Smithee, Alan J.: Tropes, Idioms, and Cliches: Essays on a Certain Addictive Website (Troperville, 2008).
  • Cyclopaedia, or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Containing the Definitions of the Terms, and Accounts of the Things Signify'd Thereby, in the Several Arts, both Liberal and Mechanical, and the Several Sciences, Human and Divine: the Figures, Kinds, Properties, Productions, Preparations, and Uses, of Things Natural and Artificial; the Rise, Progress, and State of Things Ecclesiastical, Civil, Military, and Commercial: with the Several Systems, Sects, Opinions, etc; among Philosophers, Divines, Mathematicians, Physicians, Antiquaries, Criticks, etc.: The Whole Intended as a Course of Ancient and Modern Learning.
  • The C++ programming language uses a double-colon to denote levels of scope. It's entirely possible to have lines of code that look like "MyNamespace::MyClass::SomeFunction(MyOtherNamespace::MyOtherClass::SomeConstant);".
    • This is especially common with code that uses the standard template library. The cancer can grow so deep that some compilers just give up.
  • Inverted and justified in the Colon Classification scheme for libraries by S.R. Ranganathan: it makes the tacking on of several extra colons into its strength.
  • Present in the bizarre naming schemes of modern-day cars, just sans colons, for example: Porsche 911 Targa 4S GTS.
  • British TV network Channel 5 has used this a lot with their programming in recent years.

    Fictional: The Examples 

Alternative Title(s): Multi Colon Title