General: ...Professor Death, is why on Earth you elected to name this contraption of yours the Giant Death R— ohIsee.
In the real world, many things are named after the person who invented them or made them famous. The most oft-cited example is a certain easy-to-prepare meal popularized by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.
(And then there's Thomas Crapper, but that's another story, which we won't go into here.)
There are a number of ways of twisting this concept for comedic effect, as invented by the famous comedian Hitomi Namesake:
- Mention an invention that was named in this way, but get some detail wrong (for instance, by suggesting that John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, is famous for inventing the montagu).
- Mention an invention that wasn't named this way, but claim that it was (for instance, by claiming that shaving cream was invented by Albert Shavingcream).
- Reveal that something seemingly named using a description or a fictional analogue of real life was actually named after a person, in an inversion of the above (for instance, the ski mask was the invention of the burglar Daisy Ski, and skiing isn't present in this setting).
- Cars: The CEO of Dinoco is named "Tex Dinoco".
- The Lost Skeleton Returns Again. Used for Hypocritical Humor when Dr. Paul Armstrong becomes disillusioned with Science because a colleague took credit for the discovery of a new metal and named it after himself, when Armstrong was planning to do this himself.
- The Stinger in Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian shows a kid in 1945, having spotted the cell phone Larry accidentally left behind when he entered a framed print of The VJ Day Kiss, tinkering with it in his basement as his mother calls down to him, "Joey Motorola, what are you doing down there?"
- In Mel Brooks' Robin Hood: Men in Tights, King Richard proclaims that, to remind everyone of Prince John's treachery, all toilets throughout England shall be called "Johns". (A modern American slang for toilet, for those that don't get the joke.) This one isn't actually that far off — disliked Richard the Third is Cockney rhyming slang for 'turd'.
- There's a genre of jokes in Polish hinging on the fact that, by Polish grammar rules, some adjectival street names sound like genitives of Russian-sounding surnames. The most famous example, taken seriously by one local politican, is ulica Dworcowa — present in a lot of cities, as the name means "[Railway/Bus] Station Str." — allegedly named after Nikolai Dvortsov, a Soviet writer whose name is transliterated to Polish as "Nikołaj Dworcow".
- The goose species native to Canada is more commonly referred to as the "Canada goose" rather than the "Canadian goose". No one is particularly sure where this preference comes from, but there's a common joke that it's because a John Canada (identified as an ornithologist, taxonomist, or taxidermist, depending on who's telling the story) named it after himself.
- Dave Barry uses this a lot, in one instance referring to Earl Tupper, who of course invented Earlware. Dave Barry Slept Here names such historical American geniuses as President Monroe Doctrine ("who became famous for developing the policy for which he is named"), Alexander Graham Bell System, and General Marshall Plan. The Elizabethan Era is named after the queen Elizabeth Ann Era, the Hudson River is named after the famous Dutch explorer Henry Hudson River, and the inventor of the sandwich is Samuel Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. Samuel Morse invented, besides the telegraph, "the code named after him: Pig Latin." And John F. Kennedy's administration was nicknamed "Camelot" after the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.
- According to the 1971 satire Bust-Up: The Uplifting Tale of Otto Titzling and the Development of the Bra by Wallace Reyburn, the bra was invented in 1912 by Otto Titzling, but his invention and fame were stolen by the Frenchman Phillip de Brassiere. (The book inspired a song, which Bette Midler recorded in 1986 and reprised in the film Beaches. It was also recounted as fact in at least one edition of the board game Trivial Pursuit...)
- Discworld series:
- In Feet of Clay there's a footnote about people with weapons named after them, and how they attract rumours that they were killed by their namesakes, beginning with the more-or-less historical Joseph Guillotin and ending with William Blunt-Instrument.
- In Monstrous Regiment, there's an entire Running Gag about the tendency for famous military men (such as Wellington and Cardigan) to get either food or items of clothing named after them. Several of the characters have surnames that are either foods or items of clothing in our world, and by the end of the book, they all have completely different foods or items of clothing named after them. (Lieutenant Blouse, for instance, is commemorated in a type of glove.)
- Soul Music mentions Sir Charles Lavatory, the Disc's equivalent to Thomas Crapper (and The Companion states his predecessor as head of the Plumbers' Guild was William Privy).
- The Fools Guild Diary reveals that the founder of that guild was Jean-Paul Pune, inventor of the play on words. And also that the practice of Mooning was named after the town of Müning, where warrior clowns would show each other their battle scars.
- Combined with Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" (and Orphaned Etymology) in Jingo, when the text has Vimes' internal monologue use the phrase 'Pavlovian response', despite Pavlov the animal psychologist not existing on the Discworld. A footnote notes that the said response was discovered by the wizard Denephew Boot, and is so named because it involved training a dog to eat a strawberry meringue when a bell was rung.
- The Bugarup Opera House in The Last Continent had a tradition of making unique desserts for famous opera singers which share their last names. Then around came Dame Nellie Butt. So Rincewind invented the Peach Nellie (This is a reference to Dame Nellie Melba, of whom the Peach Melba is named, among several other dishes). At the end of the book there is also a mention of a singer called Doreen Trifle.
- Several books reference the ancient Morporkian general Tacticus, who was so shrewd and successful that the word 'tactics' was coined after him. This refers to the actual Roman historian Tacitus, while several of his exploits resemble those of other famous Classical tacticians such as Caesar and Alexander.
- In The Shepherd's Crown, the shed was invented by Heimlich von Sheddenhausen.
- In Good Omens, Anathema Device is descended from the man who invented the device. She has an entire rant about forgotten inventors, who also include Humphrey Gadget, Pieter Gizmo, Cyrus T. Doodad, and Ella Reader Widget. When she subsequently mentions that she's also a descendent of Agnes Nutter, Newt Pulsifer's response is, "Let me guess, she invented the crazy person."
- Terry Pratchett likes this trope. In Johnny and the Dead, two unconnected people think the telephone was invented by Sir Humphrey Telephone.
- 1066 and All That lists several inventions of the Victorian era with their inventors: roads were invented by Lord Macadam and his son Lord Tarmac; thermometers were invented by Lord Farqualquounheit; Mackintoshes were "invented by another Scottish nobleman whose name is now forgotten."
- In one of the Wayside School books, the kids are playing music and wonder how the triangle got its name. They decide it can't be named for its shape because "then the tamborine would have to be called a circle", so they reason it must have been invented by Joe Triangle.
- In one The Saddle Club book, a friend teases Stevie, whose last name is Lake, that all the lakes are named for her. Stevie's reaction is along the lines of Never Heard That One Before.
- In Isaac Asimov's novel The Stars Like Dust, one character tries to explain to another that the Horsehead Nebula is so called because, when seen from Earth, it's shaped like a horse's head, but his friend says it was named after its discoverer, Horace Hedd.
- There's an Alas Smith and Jones sketch about László Bíró, the inventor of the ballpoint pen. This is true. The Namesake Gag comes in when he's worried that someone might steal his idea, and is assured there's no-one in the house except the servants: Bic the butler, Parker the chauffeur, Pentel the maid...
- All Aussie Adventures has the Mitchell Track, which Russell Coight tells us is named for the explorer who first opened up the area, Mitchell Track (as opposed to Major Thomas Mitchell). Other examples are Fry's Hut being named for its builder Fred Hut, and Mt. Disappointment being named for its discoverer's wife.
- "Ink and Incapability":
Blackadder: Baldrick, go to the kitchen and make me something quick and simple to eat, would you? Two slices of bread with something in between.
Baldrick: What, like Gerald Lord Sandwich had the other day?
Blackadder: Yes, a few rounds of geralds.
- Blackadder Back and Forth:
Blackadder: May I present to you, the greatest breakthrough in travel since Sir Rodney Tricycle thought to himself, "I'm bored of walking. I think I'll invent something with three wheels and a bell, and name it after myself"...
- "Ink and Incapability":
- Come Back Mrs. Noah. In a Future Imperfect gag, it's assumed a guy called Ringo invented the telephone.
- From the Community episode "Pillows and Blankets":
"The North Cafeteria, named after Admiral William North, is located in the western portion of East Hall, gateway to the western half of North Hall, which is named not after William North, but for its position above the South Wall. It is the most contested and confusing battlefield on Greendale's campus, next to the English Memorial Spanish Center, named after English Memorial, a Portuguese sailor who discovered Greendale while looking for a fountain that cured syphilis."
- When Dog River celebrates its centennial in the Corner Gas episode "Block Party," Emma spearheads an initiative to rename Main Street to "Centennial Street" in honour of the occasion, justifying herself with, "Every town has a Main Street, nobody really cares if we change it." Cue Cutaway Gag set 100 years in the past showing that the street was actually named after Harold Main, the founder of Dog River.
1906!Mayor: Your name will live in this town forever.
- One bit on The Eric Andre Show had Eric and Hannibal muse about what life was like before ladders, before the arrival of Thomas Ladder.
- In Get Smart, the Cone of Silence is so called because it was invented by Professor Cone (which actually makes sense, since the device is not a cone at all but a set of spheres).
- The Great British Bake Off: Introducing a challenge involving frangipane tarts, Sue tells the contestants that the filling takes its name from 16th-century Italian nobleman Muzio Frangipanenote — and that the pastry case takes its name from 16th-century Italian nobleman Giovanni Shortcrust.
- Horrible Histories had a sketch about the Earl of Sandwich inventing the sandwich. This was then followed by the culinary creations of his friends Baron Hotdog (silly) and Lord Turkey of Twizzler (very silly).
- Insert Name Here: In the episode dedicated to the name 'John', Richard observes:
"I'll make a brief observation first, which is a lot of Johns set up shops. So you've got John Sainsbury set up a shop, John Lewis set up a shop... and Sir John Poundland also set up a shop."
- A Running Joke on Little Britain, where the narrator variously claims that:
- Britain was discovered by Sir Henry Britain.
- Transvestitism was invented by Dr. Neil Transvestite.
- Tennis was invented by Dr. Jonathan Tennis, who was trying to fuse the sports of badminton and Swingball.
- Fancy dress parties were invented by Ian Fancydressparty.
- Look Around You: Among many historical facts, we learn that iron is named for its discoverer, the Scottish cyclops Lord Iron de Havilland.
- In The Magicians, Dean Fogg claims that the Teslaflexion spell is named after its inventor, Fred Flexion. He's probably being sarcastic, but it's never made entirely clear.
- In the Maid Marian and Her Merry Men episode "A Game Called John", the Sheriff invents a game that involves moving balls around on a cloth-covered table, and names it in honour of Prince John. After several varieties of hilarity ensue, including the Merry Men stealing all the green cloth to make uniforms, Prince John decides he doesn't want the game and gives it away, with all naming rights, to a random peasant — whose name turns out to be Snooker.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffs on this while watching 12 to the Moon.
"It's called Me-ite!""I saw that one first — I name it Bob's Rock!"
- On the L season episode devoted to 'Love', Stephen mentions that there are a large number of items of clothing named after military officers; especially those involved in the Crimean War. Stephen mentions Lord Cardigan and Lord Raglan. Alan tries to list some others and his list includes 'Lord Bobble Hat'.
- One the 'Oddments' episode of the O series, Sandi was spectacularly failing to elicit the correct answer from the panel, and in desperation asked what the Orient Express was named after. Matt Lucas offered "Peter Express?".
- When asked who invented computer programming, Alan hazards "Mr. Software".
- In the Red Dwarf episode "Parallel Universe", Holly speaks of his ambition to have an invention named after him, like the Earl of Sandwich, Samuel Morse and... Plato, inventor of the plate.
- On Spicks and Specks, Adam once asked the question 'Australian opera singer Helen Porter changed her name to what to honour her birthplace?'. After an incorrect answer was given, Adam said the correct answer was Nellie Melba. Who, of course, was born in the town of Nellie.
- There's an old Saturday Night Live sketch where a ball is attended by nobility with things named after them (Earl of Sandwich, Lord Worchestershire, Lord Salisbury) ...and Lord Douchebag.
- In That Mitchell and Webb Look, the Giant Death Ray was in fact a Steampunk barcode reader invented by a Mad Scientist named Professor Death. And unfortunately for the military men who came to see his invention, Professor Death is a militantly pacifist mad scientist.
- Victorious: In "Sleepover at Sikowitz's," Tori, in character as a cop who really loves raisin bran, claims that raisin bran was invented by Kevin McRaisinburg and Jack McBran.
- According to The Weekly with Charlie Pickering host Charlie Pickering, the Rod Laver Arena is named after tennis legend Rod Laver and Young Talent Time star Tina Arena.
- On the album An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, the spoken introduction to the song "In Old Mexico" includes a reference to "the late Doctor Samuel Gall, inventor of the gall bladder".
- In Peanuts, Sally has to write a report about Columbus Day...
"Columbus Day was a very brave man. He wanted to sail around the whole world. 'I can give you three ships, Mr. Day,' said the Queen..."
- Inverted in one FoxTrot strip, where Jason (normally a Child Prodigy) thinks Columbus Day is named for the capital of Ohio, and wonders why no other city there gets a holiday.
- A common joke in Bleak Expectations. The hero, Sir Philip Bin, made his first fortune by inventing a cylindrical receptacle for putting rubbish in — although it takes several attempts before he thinks of naming it the "bin". (He then has to defend himself from a claim that he stole the idea from the American Hiram Trashcan.) The series also features Harry Biscuit, whose father invented the biscuit, and Dr Swim, who made the medical breakthrough that saved so many people from drowning.
- A sketch on The Burkiss Way concerned the Duke of Wellington, who employed an artisan to invent a foodstuff to be named after him. The result was Beef Wellington - A raw cow wearing gumboots. After months in hiding and painful 18th-century plastic surgery, the Duke re-emerges as the Earl of Sandwich, and employs the same artisan, who after months of experiments with hundreds of loaves of bread, produces... a single breadcrumb. Not very impressive on its own, but combine a large number of them together and you get... five hundred breadcrumbs threaded onto a piece of string.
- In one of the Fred Dagg radio sketches, Fred talks about Abraham Lincoln being shot by a man called Booth, who had something to do with the founding of the Salvation Army. Or possibly he was the guy who invented the telephone box.
- An episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue mentions Coco Chanel, "who, of course, invented the popular bedtime drink". (The joke was later reprised in one of the show's spin-off books.) Similarly, they claim that the Radio Times was named after the ancient Greek inventor of TV listings, Theradio Times (pronounced 'theh-rah-dio tee-mes').
- Neil Malarkey's lecture on barcodes in an episode of The Unbelievable Truth claimed that they were invented by Baron Felix von Barcode, a contemporary of Michael Electricity and Sir William Shaving-Foam.
- In one of Eddie Izzard's routines, fire was invented by a caveman named Jeff Fire. He insists he's going to become famous for his invention, which he's decided to call "Jeff".
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Iconic Space Marine Land Raider (a heavily armed and armoured APC), the Land Speeder (a fast scouting hovercraft), the somewhat obscure Land Crawler (a multipurpose civilian vehicle), and the even more obscure Mars Universal Land Engine (which is used in the Onager Dunecrawler) were named after the discoverer of their STCs (blueprints): Magos Arkhan Land. This has also lead to the community in-joke that the Space Marines are not called that for the obvious reason of being Marines in Space, but because the Emperor of Mankind's real name is "Jimmy Space", and they are his Space Marines.
- In 'Dentity Crisis by Christopher Durang, Edith Fromage claims to be the inventor of cheese.
- From the Jungle Cruise: "And on our left you'll see beautiful Schweitzer Falls, named after the famed explorer and philanthropist, Dr. Albert Falls."
- In The Darkside Detective, Dooley claims that a portrait in the town library depicts Theodore Library, inventor of the library.
- Taako from The Adventure Zone is a former celebrity chef who plans to invent the taco. Unfortunately, he's also a complete idiot that doesn't even know what cheese is. Although he becomes much smarter over the course of the story, he still only manages to create one with the help of Joaquin Terrero, a taco truck employee from our world.
- When Funhaus played Holden Corners: The Game, they decided the name was in honor of Holden Corners, the inventor of non-straight roads.
- In the Game Grumps' playthrough of Sonic Boom, Danny and Arin are discussing Blue Öyster Cult. They claim that the band's favorite color is blue, and that their favorite seafood dish is cult.
- Mentioned as a gag in the Legendary Frog cartoon where Kerrigan decides to become an inventor and make millions. She says to her boyfriend, "Remember John from next door? John Velcro?"
- A running joke by Vinny of Vinesauce is naming the CEO of a company or game developer the same name as the company. A common one is referring to Nintendo's president as "John Nintendo."
- An old piece of internet folklore posits that running was invented in 1784 by Thomas Running when he tried to walk twice the same time.
- One episode of American Dad! has the Smith family visiting the American Safety Museum, which has an exhibit on Augustus Seatbelt, inventor of the airbag.
- Bob's Burgers
- Subverted in "O.T. The Outside Toilet. It's revealed that Teddy thought Bob's name was "Bob Burger". It's "Bob Belcher".
- Played straight in the episode "The Ring (but not scary)", the owner of Wetty Set Go is named "Eddie Wetty".
- In CatDog, the owner and founder of Taco Depot is an anthropomorphic taco named "Mr. Depot".
- In The Fairly Oddparents, they not only had the Earl of Sandwich, but the Earls of Nachos, Movie Theaters, and Kibble inventing their respective products. Cosmo initially thinks the Earl of Sandwich invented the earl.
- The town of Dimmsdale is named after "Dale Dimm". So, the Dimmsdale Dimmadome must be named after the town, right? Wrong, it's named after its owner, "Doug Dimmadome".
- In one episode of The Flintstones, Fred goes to dinner one night at a promising-looking diner called "Mother's Place". Once inside, however, he's greeted by a scraggly, sinister-looking dude who introduces himself as "Sam Mother".
- Futurama: "Bender's Game" features 'the Cave of Hopelessness'. The cave was discovered by, as well as named for, Reginald Hopelessness, who was also the first man to be eaten alive by the Tunneling Horror.
- On Histeria!, Miss Information informs us that General George Washington was named after the famous monument.
- The Patrick Star Show: In "Klopnodian Heritage Festival", GrandPat's failed attempt to conquer Klopnod was apparently so bad that they named a cream puff after him ("cream puff" being slang for a weak person). We then see a street vendor selling GrandPat Cream Puffs, with a noticeably cheap price and the slogan "The Flavor of Failure".
- Phineas and Ferb: The Tri-State Area was created when John P. Tristate united the Bi-State Area with an adjacent area, much to the dismay of Buford's great uncle Otto H. Adjacent, who founded that adjacent area.
- The Simpsons:
- The town of Springfield is named after founder Jebediah Springfield. Nothing unusual about that. However, nearby Shelbyville is named after its founder, Shelbyville Manhattan.
- The Deadly meteor shower is named after Professor Artimus Deadly, who was killed in the shower of 1853.
- Suicide Bridge is dedicated to the memory of Governor Chester L. Suicide.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: The amusement park, "Glove World", is not only glove-themed, but named after its founder, "Hieronymus Glove".
- Mount Terror in Antarctica is named not after the emotion it inspires but rather the H.M.S. Terror, lost with all hands on Franklin's Expedition to find the northwest passage