Follow TV Tropes

This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Following

Permanent Placeholder

Go To

"Nothing is more permanent than a temporary solution."
Milton Friedman

When a TV show, video game, or movie is being created, sometimes temporary content is created to fill in as a placeholder. Less often, the placeholder content ends up becoming permanent, either because the creators decided they liked it, or they simply couldn't do anything better.

Often overlaps with Descended Creator, particularly in Western animated productions. When preparing an animatic from the storyboard, the staff records a "scratch track" to be replaced by the final voice track later in production. Sometimes, however, the scratch track for one character comes out so well that they decide to have the artist who recorded it do the actual voice.

Similarly, a songwriter might string together a "guide lyric" or "dummy lyric" consisting of arbitrary words that happen to fit the tune, and then decide to keep some or all of it as the actual lyric of the song.

Not to be confused with Left It In - that trope is about something done unintentionally that is kept in the final take, whereas Permanent Placeholder is about things that were put in on purpose, with the intent of replacing them later.

A subtrope of Throw It In!. See also Working Title, "Untitled" Title and Regent for Life. Compare and contrast with Glitch Entity, which can possibly result from a placeholder that wasn't permanent per se, but stayed in the code anyway. Compare Fake–Real Turn, which is when something that was started as a deception grows into what it was pretending to be.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • For Aggretsuko, creator Rarecho had his wife Kaolip provide the scratch voice for Retsuko in his pitch to Sanrio. The studio loved her so much that they opted not to replace her with a professional voice actress in the series proper.
  • When recording for the dub of Digimon Fusion got started, Ben Diskin (who was already voicing Shoutmon) initially voiced Cutemon as a placeholder because the crew was having trouble casting him. It was kept for the final product, something Ben apparently didn't realize until the second episode was broadcast.
  • While writing Fairy Tail, Hiro Mashima recycled the name "Oración Seis" from his previous work, Rave Master, as a placeholder name for a similar group of six villains, which quickly stuck as the deadline approached. Since Fairy Tail already made a number of nods to Rave Master beforehand, it doesn't feel out of place.
  • Gundam:
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam's ending was a result of this: when brainstorming ways of how the Devil Gundam could be defeated, one of the writers jokingly suggested an incredibly cheesy Power of Love-infused blast of energy from the heroes. Everybody laughed, but as time went on, nobody came up with a better idea. Thus, the Sekiha Love-Love Tenkyoken was born.
    • At first, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 had the placeholder title Gundam NEXT which later changed to another placeholder, Gundam 00, which ended up sticking.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: The ninth part of the series was tentatively named "JoJolands" in its initial announcement. On the publication release, the official title was announced to be The JoJoLands.
  • Referenced in Kakushigoto: My Dad's Secret Ambition, as Goto comments that the names of his characters (like "Tights" and "Briefs") were originally just placeholders while he tried to think of other names, but as he worked on the story he started to just know them by those names and couldn't change them.

    Comic Books 
  • While Tom King was writing a Batman comic that brought back obscure villain Kite Man, he added him sillily saying "Kite Man!" to identify the character. Once he received the art, right below that utterance was a huge, silent panel of Kite Man flying that he felt would improve with a line. Not knowing what to say, he eventually settled on "Kite Man. Hell yeah." He forgot about it until he received the previews. And it resonated with audiences who found it hilarious, so King eventually made that Kite Man's catchphrase.

    Films — Animated 
  • Beauty and the Beast:
    • Originally, some of the lyrics to the song "Gaston" were just dummy lyrics — that is, placeholder lyrics designed to match the melody while the writers came up with something better (handily explaining why most of the song is just "No one (verbs) like Gaston!"). However, the dummy lyrics were very popular with the production staff due to perfectly characterizing Gaston, and thus, were kept in the final version.
    • The melody to "Be Our Guest" was originally intended as a rough ditty that Alan Menken played to give lyricist Howard Ashman a general idea to the style of the song. When the time came to actually put music to the lyrics, Alan Menken soon realized that the ditty he played worked with what Howard had written.
  • In Bolt, Rhino's voice acting was done by animator Mark Walton who was just supposed to do the scratch voice. He was so hilarious, however, that he was asked to do the actual voice for the movie. He was just as excited as his character.
  • In The Book of Life, Grey DeLisle-Griffin originally just did scratch work for Manolo's grandmother, and it would eventually be overdubbed by a more famous actress. However, her performance was so great that she ended up with the role proper in the finalized film.
  • A Bug's Life: Joe Ranft was originally the placeholder voice for Heimlich, but he was good enough that he was kept as the final voice actor.
  • The voice of Max the Butler in Cats Don't Dance was provided by director Mark Dindal, though it wasn't supposed to be that way. However, because the production ran out of money later on, the producers decided to retain Dindal's scratch track for Max instead of using another actor.
  • In Coraline, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible's song was originally written as a placeholder, with the intention of having They Might Be Giants compose a proper song for the scene. Linnell and Flansburgh came in, heard the placeholder song, and said it sounded good enough to them.
  • Gnomeo & Juliet franchise:
    • The goon gnomes had their voices provided by Kelly Asbury. This was a common practice in his films, as he'd do the same thing for Smurfs: The Lost Village and UglyDolls.
    • Sherlock Gnomes: According to character designer Gary Dunn, Jamie Demetriou was a scratch voice for Moriarty, but did such a great job on the character that he was kept for the actual role.
  • In The Incredibles, Edna Mode wasn't originally planned to be voiced by Brad Bird, the (male) director of the film. When Brad Bird interviewed Lily Tomlin for the part, he provided placeholder dialog made using his own voice in an attempt to demonstrate what sort of voice he was hoping to get. Tomlin stated that they didn't need her as they already had the character's voice.
  • Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie: When Big Idea had trouble finding the voice for Khalil, head of story Tim Hodge decided to audition and was cast as the character.
  • In Knick Knack, the "Blah, Blah, Blah" song during the credits was actually a result of vocalist Bobby McFerrin improvising. McFerrin, a vocalist famous for his a cappella work, was hired by Pixar to compose and perform the soundtrack for the film. The work print he was given to compose over featured "blah blah blah" as a placeholder for the credits, and he ran with it. The folks at Pixar liked it so much that it made the final cut.
  • The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Tara Strong's voice for Melody was to give a potential Celebrity Voice Actor an idea of what the character should sound like. Strong did the role herself after Disney liked her performance so much.
  • Madagascar: The animators did temporary voice tracks, which were then to be dubbed over by celebrity voice actors. They had originally planned for Robert Stack to voice Skipper the penguin, but after he died, they just left co-director Tom McGrath's voice track in because he'd gotten so much into playing the character (who is already a Stack imitation). This may also be why Kowalski and Private are voiced by DreamWorks staff members Chris Miller and Chris Knights respectively. However, Rico is voiced by professional voice actor John DiMaggio... until Penguins of Madagascar, where another DreamWorks staffer Conrad Vernon (who also voices Mason the Chimp in the same franchise) replaced him.
  • Originally, Danny Elfman was just the composer on The Nightmare Before Christmas and so he voiced every character in the song demos (except for Sally), but as he was working he saw a lot of himself in protagonist Jack Skellington, so he asked Tim Burton if he could voice him. In the end, Danny provided the singing vocals for Jack and also voiced The Clown With the Tearaway Face and Barrel.
  • For Over the Moon, Cathy Ang originally did the demo for the song "Rocket to the Moon". Cathy did such a great job performing it, that not only was the version of the song she recorded the final version used for the film, but she was cast as Fei Fei as well!
  • Roger Craig Smith was originally going to just do scratch work for Ripslinger in Planes, but his performance was so good that he ended up in the role.
  • The Prince of Egypt: Director Brenda Chapman did a scratch recording of Miriam singing the River Lullaby that was then supposed to be re-recorded by Miriam’s Non-Singing Voice, Sally Dworsky, for the scene where Moses meets Mirian and Aaron. Chapman’s recording was the one that ended up in the final film.
  • Screenwriter and blogger Pamela Ribon provided scratch tracks for Snow White in Ralph Breaks the Internet, but her voice was deemed good enough that it was kept in the theatrical release.
  • Ratatouille: Lou Romano, the voice of Linguini, was a production designer on The Incredibles when he was asked to lay down a scratch track for Ratatouille's main human lead. They liked it so much they decided to hire him as the final voice actor.
    • This was also the case with Storyboard Artist and Pixar veteran Peter Sohn, the voice of Emile.
  • The Road to El Dorado: Jim Cummings (1952) did a scratch track as Cortes but the filmmakers liked his work and kept it in the final cut.
  • The Rugrats Movie: Dil was supposed to be voiced by Madonna, and Tara Strong provided the scratch voice for him. When recording Dil's cry, a woman who was in the same room who just had a baby started lactating due to how realistic it sounded, resulting in Tara being cast as Dil.
  • Shrek:
    • Per Word of God, The Smash Mouth song "All Star" at the beginning was only used as a test track to get the timing of the opening scene down and was intended to be replaced with an original piece composed for the finished picture, however, the temporary song ended up working so well that it was left in the final piece. (It helps that the lyrics completely match the tone of the scene.) They later got Smash Mouth to record a cover of "I'm a Believer" specifically for the movie's ending, as a nice form of Bookends.
    • Shrek Forever After cast head of story Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin because no actor matched the voice he made up during the storyboard meetings.
  • Lumalee in The Super Mario Bros. Movie is voiced by invokedJuliet Jelenic, the daughter of director Michael Jelenic. Her lines were originally scratch recordings to be replaced by a professional voice actor later in production, but Juliet's voice was kept for the final release because the crew couldn't find anyone else who sounded cute and innocent enough to provide the intended dissonance with the character's morbid dialogue.
  • In the first Disney Fairies film, Tinker Bell, Rob Paulsen and Jeff Bennett were hired to do scratch work for Bobble and Clank with the understanding that they'd be replaced with Hollywood celebrities. At one point during production, Paulsen overheard crew members talking about the difficulties they were having with Bobble's "official" actor (who lived in the UK and had a thick Scottish accent the crew couldn't understand). Paulsen innocently reminded them that it would be cheaper, easier, and probably produce a better vocal performance if they just kept him. He and Bennett were officially cast in the roles shortly thereafter.
  • Rosalie Chiang, the voice of Mei in Turning Red, was originally meant to be a temporary "scratch" voice until Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins could find a more fitting take. However, once the script was finalized, Shi and Collins liked Chiang's take enough to keep her on as the permanent voice of Mei.
  • The final scene of UglyDolls features a young girl befriending Moxy, with her name revealed to be Maizy. This was the name of story artist David Trumble’s partner’s niece, and was put into the storyboard of the scene as a placeholder. Director Kelly Asbury found the gesture heartwarming and told him to keep it in the final film.
  • WALL•E:
    • Elissa Knight recorded the lines for Eve just to give the directors something to work with until a more famous voice actress was contracted, but they liked her performance so much that they kept it in.
    • The use of Also sprach Zarathustra in a climactic scene was originally put in as a joke, until the filmmakers saw a test audience member pumping his fist in triumph. They left it in.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey uses a score made out of public domain classical music. It was intended as a placeholder score, but Kubrick ended up preferring it and leaving it in. The original score written by Alex North was eventually released in 1993.
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: The narration throughout the film is performed by Hugh Ross, an assistant editor on the film. He originally inserted it as a placeholder, but over two years of editing and fighting with the studio, Ross's voice became ingrained in director Andrew Dominik's head, and he ultimately fought to keep it in the final cut. It's one of the highlights of the film.
  • Cannibal! The Musical: The word "Shpadoinkle" was originally a placeholder for the song "It's a Shpadoinkle Day", but when Trey Parker first played the song for friends they loved the word so much that it was kept. They even added a line of dialogue with the word "shpadoinkle" in it to a later scene as a callback.
  • Cellular: Felix da Housecat's remix of "Sinnerman" by Nina Simone was originally used alongside early footage to help convey the feel of the movie. They decided to keep it and used it for the construction site chase scene.
  • According to Jon Favreau, the studio wasn't going to name Cowboys & Aliens with its comicbook name as they felt it was a little cheesy. While shooting with this working title, Favreau told this to Harrison Ford to help brainstorm new names. Ford asked "well, what else could it be?" and the name stuck.
  • When Ryan Reynolds was the only major staff or crew attached to Deadpool (2016), the previsualization team created a mock-up of the opening sequence with funny descriptions instead of names. The crew approved, and the Credits Gag is kept on the movie.
  • Ghostbusters (1984): The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Though it was one of Dan Aykroyd's earlier ideas, director Ivan Reitman was terrified that audiences would find it too silly, and lobbied the designers for something more fearsome. Pressed for time, everyone agreed that there was some ineffable quality about the big guy that just fundamentally worked, so he stayed.
  • President Whitmore’s Rousing Speech in Independence Day was written as a placeholder speech, with writers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich planning to write the "proper" speech later on. They never did, and Devlin later heard actor Bill Pullman rehearsing the "draft" speech. Horrified, he remembered he had not written a "proper" speech - until he saw the reactions to Pullman’s performance. Cast and crew were cheering and applauding. The "draft" speech was left in the movie, almost word for word, and became one of the movie’s trademark scenes.
  • Done by accident in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, at least according to director Steve Oedekerk: As a Gag Dub, he created a track where he performed for every character in the movie (except for Whoa, whose lines were already recorded) under the idea that other, more competent actors would perform them later. As Oedekerk's track was as intentionally bad as the rest of the film, his crew thought that his track was the final one and post-production occurred under that assumption. This is NOT the same thing as Left It In, as this comprises the entire voice track of the movie—there'd be nothing left if removed!
  • During prep work for The Lord of the Rings co-producer Rick Porras offered his wedding band as a stand-in for the One Ring during an improv acting session. After some discussion the wedding band's shape was used as the template for the final prop ring.
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery was the film's working title, but Woody Allen couldn't think of a better title.
  • When writing songs for A Mighty Wind, Michael Mckean came up with a chorus melody and used "potato's in the paddy wagon" as a filler lyric because it happened to have the right number of syllables. He ultimately decided it was a fitting enough title for a cutesy novelty song by The New Main Street Singers, so he wrote the rest of the song around the title.
  • Project X was originally a working title, but the positive response online led them to keep the title.
  • In Romancing the Stone, director Robert Zemeckis hired Alan Silvestri to write a temporary score so they could begin filming to something. Zemeckis liked the resulting product, and decided to let Silvestri complete the film's score.
  • RRR (2022) started out as a working title, named for its director and its two lead actors (S.S. Rajamouli, Ram Charan, and N.T. Rama Rao Jr.). Rajamouli eventually decided to go with it as the official title, feeling that a film of this scale required a universal title. The expanded titles, in fact, vary for each language the movie is dubbed in, as per fan suggestions: Raudraṁ Raṇaṁ Rudhiraṁ in its original Telugu, Rattam Raṇam Rauttiram in Tamil, Raudra Raṇa Rudhira in Kannada, Rudhiram Raṇam Raudhram in Malayalam (all of which translate to "Rage, War, Blood") and Rise Roar Revolt in Hindi (which remains its international title).
  • Snakes on a Plane was going to be renamed Pacific Air Flight 121 for its release, but then its B-movie working title attracted a flurry of attention on the internet, and Samuel L. Jackson insisted that he'd only signed on to the film because of its Exactly What It Says on the Tin title. With all that in mind, the producers decided that the best option was to just keep the working title.
  • Some Like It Hot screenwriters Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond penned the last piece of dialogue — "Well, nobody's perfect!" — as a "dummy line", intending to replace it with something funnier before filming. However, they couldn't think of a worthy replacement, allowing Joe E. Brown's delivery of the "dummy line" to become the movie's Signature Scene.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): Ben Schwartz was initially cast as Sonic for Blur Studio’s first animated tests until they decided on final casting for the voice of the eponymous character (Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Andy Samberg, Charlie Day, Adam Devine, Bill Hader, Will Forte, Jim Parsons, and Josh Gad were all considered) — but the filmmakers were so impressed with Schwartz's performance that they hired him for the full movie.
  • Star Wars:
    • George Lucas only wanted new actors for his leads. Because of this, Harrison Ford, who he had already worked with on American Graffiti, was not asked to audition but brought in to run lines. Eventually, Lucas realized that he fit the role of Han Solo better than any of the other actors.
    • In A New Hope, Anthony Daniels was only supposed to portray C-3PO physically; looking at the character's dialogue on paper, you can tell that they were going for an Honest John's Dealership type voice for the character. Daniels didn't bother matching the intended tone while he was acting, and his entirely sincere delivery of the sleazy dialogue proved so charming that he was kept as the voice. Daniels did, however, have to re-dub the lines because the C-3PO suit's plastic pieces scraping together made it impossible to hear his on-set voice.
    • Many years later in The Phantom Menace, the same thing happened with Ahmed Best's performance as Jar Jar Binks.
    • J. J. Abrams, who voiced D-O in The Rise of Skywalker, initially did the voice as a placeholder following which he cast a voice actor for the role. However, Chris Terrio was impressed by some early cuts, he convinced Abrams to leave his voice in the final cut, as he felt that it was perfect for the droid.
    • In Brazil, when it was time to redub for the DVD, the voice actor who usually dubbed over James Earl Jones couldn't go do a test track, and not wanting to leave Darth Vader blank, dub director Pádua Moreira did one himself. The localization crew liked his performance so much he was cast. (And given he eventually became Palpatine, Vader's birth in Revenge of the Sith has him doing both people in the scene)
    • The very title Star Wars is itself an example; it was intended to be only the working title, but no one was able to come up with anything better, so it stuck.
  • Titanic (1997): Composer James Horner created a piano demo of what he wanted for Rose's theme, which he intended to score with a full orchestra. James Cameron found the tape, which was labeled "sketch," and assumed it was what he doing for the drawing scene. It was left as it was in the film.
  • In the DVD Commentary of UHF Weird Al reveals that the part where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after Stanley finishes his impassioned speech during his first time on TV is this.
  • Vertigo and North By Northwest were both working titles that Alfred Hitchcock ended up using because he couldn't find any alternate titles that he liked better.

    Literature 
  • In the foreword to the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Monster Collection edition of the New Series Adventures novel Prisoner of the Daleks, Trevor Baxendale explains that he wanted the Dalek Inquisitor General to have a suitably menacing name, and while he was trying to think of one, he referred to it as "Dalek X". It wasn't long before he realised the perfect name was...
  • When Louis Sachar was writing Holes, he used Stanley Yelnats as a filler name for the main character, planning to replace it later with a more normal name. He never did, and Stanley's weird name even ended up becoming a plot point.
  • The main character of Snow Crash is named Hiro Protagonist. Stephenson put it in as a placeholder for the main character's name, and then never changed it. He ended up writing in the explanation that 'Hiro' is short for 'Hiroaki' and implying that the last name is a pseudonym that Hiro chose for himself.
  • The premise of B.J. Novak's short story "The Something by John Grisham" revolves around an In-Universe example: Due to a mistake on the part of his new editor, John Grisham's latest novel is published under an obvious Working Title, The Something, but becomes a best-seller anyway (this is an Affectionate Parody of how often the author's actual works have titles starting with the definitive article, e.g. The Pelican Brief).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: Producer Ron Howard wasn't originally going to be the narrator. He simply recorded the narration as a placeholder until they found someone else. However, his voiceover worked so well, they kept it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The iconic original version of the opening theme is on some level this. The original intention was that the song would be a basic backing track that would be enhanced by having an orchestral arrangement dubbed over it, but the minimalist yet eerie electronic theme fit the show so perfectly that this version of the theme stuck around with only minor additions until the Fifth Doctor, and the tune has been a key part of the series for its entire run.
    • Zoe got her name because Peter Ling, who was writing "The Mind Robber" for Season 6, wrote the story with a generic female companion named Zoe (as he knew the previous female companion would be leaving at the end of Season 5, but not anything about the replacement). The producer liked the name and so kept it for the new companion.
    • Soldeed's death scene in "The Horns of Nimon" was intended to be a camera rehearsal, but it was kept, despite (or because of?) the fact that the actor starts literally Corpsing in it.
  • Farscape wasn't originally intended to have episode titles, and some first season episodes had Exactly What It Says on the Tin titles that were originally intended simply as production placeholders (in particular "PK Tech Girl" and "DNA Mad Scientist").
  • In the pilot episode for the game show Fifteen to One, producer William G. Stewart did the hosting duties with the intention of hiring a proper host once the show was greenlit. The network was sufficiently impressed by his performance (and his grasp of the game's somewhat arcane rules) that he was kept on as the actual host.
  • The Grand Tour test track has one corner with a large billboard next to it. Jeremy Clarkson explains they were going to get a sponsor for the corner, but they haven't found anyone who wants to advertise (and the one time they did, Jeremy immediately got their name wrong). So they're stuck with calling the corner "Your Name Here".
  • Have I Got News for You: After former host Angus Deayton was fired mid-series the producers hired a string of guest hosts to fill in for the remaining episodes. This was intended to be a temporary measure with a new permanent host being hired for the next series, and the crew did consider offering the role to some of the guests, but they ultimately decided not to select a permanent host and continue to use guests.
  • In Head of the Class, Mr. Moore, a substitute teacher, becomes the permanent teacher of the advanced history class during the Mid-Season Twist.
  • In Home Improvement, Al wasn't supposed to be a permanent character, but a temporary fill in for Stephen Tobolowsky who was supposed to play the permanent co-host of Tool Time, Glenn. Tobolowsky decided he was too busy and audiences responded well to Richard Karn's portrayal of Al, so they simply kept the character in.
  • Zig-zagged by Jeopardy!. After Alex Trebek passed away in November 2020 and his last shows aired in January 2021, they used guest hosts for the remainder of the 2020-21 season, including former champion Ken Jennings (who, even prior to Trebek's passing, was a top pick to be the next host) and executive producer Mike Richards. When the season ended, it was announced that Richards would be the new full-time host and Mayim Bialik, who was among the better-received guest hosts, would host primetime specials. This upset many fans, who'd suspected that they'd picked Richards in advance and were never taking the other guest hosts into consideration. It got worse when some obscene statements by Richards during his time as a producer for The Price Is Right surfaced, which led to Richards resigning from the show, and afterwards, it was announced that Bialik and Jennings would co-host the show during the 2021-22 season. This came into full circle however as Bialik and Jennings became the permanent hosts, with Jennings for the first half of the season with Bialik in the second half, with each splitting hosting duties for some prime time specials.
  • Richard Osman is a producer for Endemol, the company that produced Pointless. When demonstrating the show to BBC, Osman was used as a placeholder for the Mission Control. He made enough of an impression on them for him to retain that role on the actual show, and Pointless ended up becoming his Star-Making Role.
  • The Prisoner (1967) used the working title.
  • Psych provides an In-Universe example: Da Chief for the beginning of the show is Interim Chief Vick. As the title suggests, she's only there as a temporary chief, though she later becomes the full-on chief of the department.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: As his title suggests, the Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) was "programmed only as a short-term emergency supplement to the medical team". However, the ship's medical staff was killed when they were flung into the Delta Quadrant, so the Doctor would permanently fill in for them, and in doing so, started growing beyond his original programming.
  • Strangers with Candy creators Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert were having trouble coming up with a last name for main character Jerri, so for early drafts of the pilot script they called her Jerri Blank: They grew attached to the last name and kept it.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959) had plenty of people considered for the role of the narrator (including Orson Welles, who was ultimately deemed to expensive) before settling on Westbrook Van Voorhis in the pilot. However, executives thought Westbrook's voice over was too pompous, but loved Rod Serling's more cozy on screen introduction despite it being intended purely as part of the sales pitch to the executives rather than a part of the episode itself. As a result, Rod Serling was made the narrator and the role was rewritten to better fit him, eventually leading to him becoming an iconic fixture of the show and a full on Greek Chorus in Season 2 onwards.
  • When the pilot episodes of Wheel of Fortune were being shot, the puzzle board was intended to be mechanically operated, like the original Concentration board. However, they didn't have time to finish the mechanism, so they brought in Susan Stafford to turn the letters manually. She stayed in this role until being replaced by Vanna White in 1982, and even though the board was upgraded to touch monitors in 1997, White has continued to be the show's Lovely Assistant due to her popularity.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: The scat closing credits song was going to have lyrics, they just hadn't been written yet, but the producers heard the demo version and liked it just like that. (In part because they knew that it would never be intelligible, as the continuity announcer would speak over it every time it aired, so they figured it would be funnier if people discovered that the lyrics they never heard were actually nonsense.)

    Music 
  • Most of Jerry Cantrell's guitar solos on Dirt by Alice in Chains were scratch recordings. While he insists they were all tightly composed, they were merely demo versions he planned to re-record later. But the band and their producer thought they all sounded great and insisted he leave them as is.
  • The final line of the Barenaked Ladies song "One Week" was inserted as a placeholder. The lead singer saw a sign in front of a stadium in Toronto that said "Birchmount Stadium: Home of the Robbie" (The Robbie is a large annual youth soccer tournament). One of the band members commented that they are waiting for the sign to be changed to read, "Birchmount Stadium: Home of 'Home of the Robbie'."
  • The Beatles: "Yer Blues" has audible leftovers from a previous take in the left channel, namely John singing early placeholder lyrics leaking through the drum mic. The solo similarly has the originally-recorded solo bleed through Ringo's microphone in the left channel, while the right features the newly-recorded solo.
  • Bon Iver's debut album For Emma, Forever Ago, comprises of what were originally just demo versions recorded by Justin Vernon alone during a lengthy retreat to his father's remote hunting cabin. He had originally planned on doing a "proper" recording of the songs later on, but was convinced by friends and loved ones to keep them as is.
  • According to producer Tony Visconti, the music to David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World was largely written before the lyrics, and the song "Black Country Rock" was originally only given that title because different sections of the instrumental sounded like blues, country, and rock: Bowie liked the sound of the Working Title enough that he worked the phrase into the lyrics and made it the official title.
  • Toni Braxton owes her career to this trope. She was hired to record a demo version of "Love Shoulda Brought You Home," intended for Anita Baker as the lead single for the Boomerang (1992) soundtrack, but Baker was pregnant at the time and on hiatus from performing. Instead, she suggested they just use Braxton for the song. It became her debut single and was a modest hit, and her career took off from there.
  • The Phil Collins song "Sussudio" got its title (and hook) from a placeholder lyric that Collins improvised. He originally meant to find an alternative word that scanned just as well, but he never did.
    • Collins pretty much owes his entire career as a singer to this trope: after Peter Gabriel left Genesis the band continued to write music while searching for a new singer with Collins, then the drummer providing guide vocals on the new demos. Eventually the band decided that they liked what he was doing and convinced him to take over as full time vocalist.
  • The Dave Matthews Band got this with their name. Dave Matthews got together Boyd Tinsley, Leroi Moore, Stefan Lessard, Carter Beauford, and himself to form a rock band and suggested they call themselves the Dave Matthews Band until they could come up with a better name. They never did.
  • When Country Music band Diamond Rio was getting started in The '80s, Matt Davenport was the Lead Bassist. The band recorded some demos with producer Keith Stegall, who said that Davenport could not record bass guitar and vocals at the same time, as they would be hard to clean up in post. He suggested that they have Marty Roe, who was then a backing vocalist, sing a scratch track which would then be replaced by Davenport. Upon hearing the scratch track, the band agreed that Roe should be the lead singer instead, so he was promoted to such. Davenport remained in the group a little while longer, but quit as he didn't like being outside the lead role and was hastily replaced by Dana Williams. Roe has been the band's lead singer ever since.
  • Much of Faith No More's We Care a Lot was written music-first, with vocalist Chuck Mosley writing lyrics and vocal melodies later. One such song was given the Working Title "Mark Bowen" as a sort of Line-of-Sight Name: Mark Bowen was a friend of the band who had played guitar with them at some early shows, and they named the song after him just because he happened to be around when they were working on it. "Mark Bowen" became the permanent title because Mosley opted to mention him by name in the lyrics.
  • The computer-generated album art for Iron Maiden's Dance of Death was just a mock-up, and was filled with design errors that the artist planned to correct. But Steve Harris loved how ridiculous it looked and the others agreed it was so hilariously bad that they didn't want it to be improved, so it became the final product. Singer Bruce Dickinson later regretted this and called the artwork an embarrassment.
  • The chorus to Kings of Leon's "Sex on Fire" ("Whoooooa, my sex is on fire") were filler lyrics that were intended to be replaced with better ones, but the band never found anything that fit better.
  • Michael Jackson's "Black or White" includes a short rap verse credited to "L.T.B.", who is actually producer Bill Botrell (L.T.B. self-deprecatingly stood for "Leave It to Beaver"). Botrell hoped to get a real rapper to re-record over his reference take, but Michael liked it enough to want it in the final version.
  • In the beginning of Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son", the drum intro (two sets of two bass drum hits followed by a snare) was originally a placeholder drummer Phil Ehart planned on replacing, but decided to keep.
  • Nik Kershaw's famously cryptic song "The Riddle" actually doesn't have any particular meaning. Kershaw wrote the music and then added some random lyrics to practice the tune, but ran out of time and had to put in the album the song with the improvised lyrics. And that's why it's named "The Riddle". That said, hundreds of people still maintain to have "figured out" the clues about the "real" meaning; just read the comments in the provided link for some examples.
  • After King Crimson's Lizard released in 1970, the band needed a new drummer, singer, and bassist. They managed to find a drummer (Ian Wallace) and singer (Boz Burrell), but were having trouble getting a bassist. Initially it was Rick Kemp (later of Steeleye Span), but he left after two weeks because he felt he wasn't up to their level. Not wanting to hold auditions again and with the band in danger of collapse, Robert Fripp taught Burrell how to play bass after noticing him noodling on one that had been left behind in the studio. After the band broke up Burrell would quit singing and play bass exclusively, later gaining fame in that role with Bad Company.
  • Russian rock band Kino (Кино) recorded demo tracks for their eight studio album, then their frontman Viktor Tsoi died in a car crash. The rest of the group rerecorded their parts to finish the album (officially self-titled, but better known to fans as Чёрный альбом, or The Black Album) but for obvious reasons, they reused Tsoi's demo vocals for the final mix.
  • After Anette Olzon left Nightwish in the middle of a live tour, Floor Jansen of the band After Forever was called in to replace Olzon for the remainder of the tour. However, Floor got such a positive reception that the rest of the band decided to permanently instill her as the new lead vocalist.
  • The drum solo partway through "Piggy" by Nine Inch Nails was performed by Trent Reznor as a placeholder to be filled in with a proper solo later. However, he liked it too much to have it lost, so it was kept for the final version.
  • Noah: The seemingly-cryptic "2DSD" title in Bintang di Surga was just a name for the song file and was meant to be replaced, but the band forgot or couldn't come up with a replacement and the name stuck. When the band remade their Peterpan discography, the song was renamed "Tetap Berdiri", after a line in the chorus, but they kept the old name as a subtitle.
  • PermaFrost's In Harm's Way included a couple of songs where the Working Title became permanent: "Kurt Kokasik" was a song that they thought sounded like a cross between Nirvana and The Cars, so they just mashed up the most famous members of those bands, Kurt Cobain and Ric Ocasek. "The One On The Floor" got its name because a piece of paper with the chord changes was taped to the floor of their rehearsal space, presumably leading members to say things like "let's play the one on the floor" - it stuck because they felt the title happened to fit the theme of the lyrics.
  • Kirsty MacColl wasn't originally planned as the co-lead vocalist on the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" - she was hired as a guide vocal before the band was to dub another singer's vocals in. This never got to happen, as they quickly fell in love with MacColl's performance.
  • Queens of the Stone Age didn't originally intend for Nick Oliveri to sing "Quick and to the Pointless" from Rated R, since he was originally just recording a scratch track... but he did it so well they made it official.
  • While writing the music for Red vs. Blue, Jeff Williams wanted to hire an opera singer to do a One-Woman Wail. Yet the results when he asked his daughter Casey to do a placeholder impressed Jeff so much he just kept Casey's take, and would later employ her vocals more and more.
  • The Rolling Stones: Since bassist Bill Wyman's departure in 1993 and drummer Charlie Watts's death in 2021, the Stones haven't officially replaced their positions out of respect to them, with Darryl Jones and Steve Jordan getting credited as guest bassist and drummer, respectively. Though Wyman would return as a bassist for the Stones' 2023 album Hackney Diamonds.
  • In the song "The Look" by Roxette, the first two verses are "guide lyrics" - lines scribbled down by Per Gessle (the songwriter) to have something to sing while he was working on the song and arrangement. He couldn't come up with anything better and left them in saying later when the song became a massive hit "everyone gets lucky sometimes."
  • This trope turned out to be the reason for Sia's return to singing: after having retired from the spotlight and focused on songwriting, she wrote "Titanium" for Alicia Keys. When Keys passed on it, David Guetta submitted Sia's demo vocals without her permission to the record company and a star was reluctantly (re)born.
  • The "la la la" sections in both "Don't You" by Simple Minds and "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue were intended to be replaced with actual lyrics, but weren't because it worked so well the way it was. In the Simple Minds case, Jim Kerr actually did write lyrics after the initial recording session (despite not being the original songwriter - the whole idea of singing over the break at all was a spontaneous decision), and then decided to stick with the "la"s the following morning.
  • Starflyer 59: The album Dial M wound up as an odd mix of synth pop and acoustic guitars because of this. Jason Martin recorded the acoustic guitars as a scratch track, intending to replace them later, but the band liked them enough to keep them in the final mixes. Similarly, drummer Dave Brotherton's sole appearance was due to this. His friend Steve Dail invited him over to play on the demo recordings for the album The Changing of the Guard, and the band planned to replace the drum bits with something from their usual drummer, Trey Many. But the band liked Brotherton's drumming enough to keep it for the final album.
  • Pam Tillis has two examples:
    • In "Maybe It Was Memphis", the second verse ("Read about you in a Faulkner novel / Met you once in a Williams play...") was written as a filler verse with the intent of replacing it later on, but the writer never replaced it before the song was released.
    • Pam and producer Paul Worley liked the demo of "Shake the Sugar Tree" (sung by Stephanie Bentley) so much that they just added Pam's vocals and a couple more instruments to it.
  • The jazz standard "Undecided" began as an untitled melody Charlie Shavers sent to a publisher. The publishers asked Shavers by wire for the title; he replied "UNDECIDED", as in "I haven't decided on a title yet", but it was mistaken as the actual title and from there Sid Robin wrote lyrics about an undecisive lover.
  • When Pete Townshend wrote The Who song "A Quick One While He's Away", he wrote in "Cello, cello, cello", because he wanted to have cellos playing during the end segment. However, the record company would not pay for cellists, and the band didn't have the money to pay for it, themselves, so they sang "Cello, cello, cello", instead.
  • Famously, Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" features a verse consisting of 26 repetitions of "I know" before "I oughtta leave the young thing alone"; this was originally a placeholder for lyrics to be written later, but the other musicians he was recording with insisted it be kept in. (Given that these musicians included such 60s luminaries as Stephen Stills and Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Booker T and two of the three MGs, Withers wisely decided to follow their advice.)
  • Most of the songs from Yo La Tengo's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out started out as rough improvised instrumental demos: Member James McNew would archive the recordings and give them a Working Title, and as a joke he started using titles from Troy McClure's extensive fictional filmography. In the case of "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House", Ira Kaplan actually decided to write his lyrics around the Working Title, making it permanent.

    Podcasts 
  • Adam Savage's podcast Still Untitled was started without being officially named. From the second episode onward they started referring to it as being "still untitled". After dozens of episodes, it's become the official name.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, the Skeksis character, skekEkt, was originally meant to be voiced by a professional actor, with puppeteer Alice Dinnean serving as a placeholder. However, Will Matthews, a writer and producer for the series, thought her performance was so hilariously fitting that he decided to keep her voice in. This made Dinnean one of only a few puppeteers to voice their own character in the show.
  • In the "Elves and the Shoemaker" episode of Muppets Classic Theater, there is a scene toward the end where Rizzo the Rat comes on stage to give advice to Kermit and Robin. Since Steve Whitmire was already playing Kermit in that scene, Dave Goelz operated Rizzo for those two lines, with the intention of Whitmire dubbing the voice in later. (This is standard practice for Muppet productions.) However, Goelz's imitation of Rizzo's voice was so hilariously bad that they didn't bother re-dubbing it, leaving Rizzo with a very odd voice for that brief scene.
  • The voice roles of Rusty, Stein and one of the Crybabies from The Noddy Shop were given to Matt Ficner, who created their puppets, rather than hiring another voice-over artist. Similarly, Noreen Young played a puppet she made, Granny Duck.

    Sports 
  • When Michael Jordan played college basketball, he played as his favorite number, 45. When he joined the NBA he learned that 45 was already taken, so he reluctantly took 23 because it was half of 45, rounded up. It was, of course, as number 23 that he became immortalized (although he did finally get to play as 45 again during his brief post-retirement career).

    Tabletop Games 
  • When it was first being created, GURPS had no name. It was nicknamed the Great Un-named Role Playing System purely as a joke among the designers, and since that was a mouthful, that was swiftly abbreviated to just GURPS. But as the release date grew ever closer, no one had a better name for it. Eventually, the joke name was slightly tweaked (Great Un-named was replaced with Generic Universal), and it was marketed simply as GURPS - which turned out to be a memorably quirky acronym (as opposed to the abbreviations that most games at that time shortened to).
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • The early set "The Dark" was originally called "The Dark" as a placeholder name, but by the time it was ready, everyone at Wizards of the Coast had gotten used to the name and it ended up becoming the official release name. To prevent this from happening again, from then on, internal code names for Magic sets would have to be things that couldn't possibly be used as a real release name.
    • The mish-mash elemental creatures of the first Ravnica block ended up being known by their production nickname of 'Weirds' because no-one could think of a better name. They're now one of the signature creations of the Izzet League.

    Toys 
  • G.I. Joe scriptwriter Buzz Dixon came up with the enemy name "Cobra-La" as a placeholder for a rough draft of his script, but Hasbro executives loved it and insisted he keep the name despite his objections that it was stupid and derivative.
    "Unfortunately, Hasbro fell in love with that concept and name and despite all my efforts stuck with Cobra-La. I apologize to Joe and Hilton fans everywhere; I really, really, REALLY was going to come up with a much better name than that."
  • In Transformers Alternators, the creators had plans to do a Decepticon Palette Swap of the character Windcharger, but couldn't figure out what existing character it would be. Eventually, they just shortened it to "Decepticharge" and made it a new character.

    Video Games 
  • Another Metroid 2 Remake was a temporary name as a tongue-in-cheek joke on how it was yet another Metroid II: Return of Samus Fan Remake among the many others that were around at the time. Even after all those other remakes fizzled out, the name stuck all the way to completion. It still ended up being fitting once Nintendo released their own remake.
  • There is an Atari 2600 game about protecting treasure from an octopus underwater called Name This Game and Win $10,000, which was supposed to be named through a contest which had a $10,000 prize. (In Europe, it was called simply Octopus, since there was never any plan for a contest there.) However, publisher US Games went bankrupt before the contest could be completed, so the game is known to this day as Name This Game. A much later, unofficial naming contest named it Going Under.
  • In Berzerk, Evil Otto was supposed to be redrawn as something looking more intimidating, but the smiley face used as a placeholder proved to be effective enough.
  • Borderlands 2:
    • "Bullymong" was a placeholder name for the 6-limbed alien yetis. It stuck. A quest in game lampshades this with Sir Hammerlock trying and failing to rename them before his book on them ships.
    • Anthony Burch revealed that "Handsome Jack" was a placeholder name for the main antagonist until he'd figure out something better, but the voice acting sessions used this name, so it stuck as well.
  • Bug Fables: An early pre-release build has a note saying that the name of the setting, Bugaria, is just a placeholder subject to change. The name instead stuck all the way to the final version.
  • During development of the Nintendo 64 port of California Speed, the artists were asked during a busy crunch period to throw out all the billboard textures from the coin-op version, most of which were ads for other Midway coin-op games, and insert new ones. One, Morgan Godat, decided he was too busy to be bothered at that precise moment and plugged in a placeholder texture with a very eye-catching message: "Sometimes... God takes mommies and puppies away... And sometimes... Just sometimes... I do." He assumed someone else would notice such an obvious placeholder and replace it before the game shipped. But nobody did, and Morgan himself forgot all about it, so the message was left in, creating an accidental (and very creepy) Easter Egg that went undiscovered for nearly 18 years until it was found by a Redditor (though it was probably first found by a VGMPF editor).
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops has a multiplayer perk, "Warlord", that allows the player to stick two attachments on their primary weapon. That name was originally a placeholder, since the name of the equivalent perk from the previous year's Modern Warfare 2, "Bling", didn't fit with the Cold War setting of the game. The name stuck through to release because they never thought up a better name for it.
  • Joseph Kucan, the actor who played Kane in the Command & Conquer: Tiberium series, was originally the casting director for the first game. When the programmers were working out how to add Live-Action Cutscenes to the game, they asked him to come in since he had the most experience with camera equipment. And then, since he was around, he recorded a few videos for the test maps. Playtesters found his acting (or in his words, "the part where the bald guy was yelling at me") one of the most memorable parts of the mission.
  • Mike Dawson plays himself in Dark Seed because he used his own name as a temporary placeholder during development. When president Patrick Ketchum played a demo, he thought the name matched so well they kept it in. They also used his digitized likeness to save money on hiring an actor or model.
  • Dead Rising was originally just a working title. The name was liked so much, it stayed.
  • In-universe example in Dishonored 2, with Kirin Jindosh's Clockwork Soldiers. He recorded a bunch of rough-draft barks for them based on situational triggers, and never got around to having better ones recorded before Emily or Corvo kill or permanently genius-neuter him, leaving the remaining units as-is with the rough-draft recordings.
  • A common thing in the Dragon Age series, especially in regards to naming things. For instance, the name of the main continent, "Thedas", was an acronym ("The Dragon Age Setting") used by the devs to refer to the landmass while they thought of a proper name for it. Fast forward to a few years later, and nobody even considered naming it anything else.
  • Escape Velocity Override was originally named that as a placeholder simply to indicate it was a total conversion (it would override the game files — it was the mid 90s, the term total conversion hadn't been fully established yet). It stuck around during development, and through the project being turned into an actual sequel and release.
  • In Five Nights at Freddy's, Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy's names were supposed to be placeholder nicknames, but developer Scott Cawthon eventually grew fond of them and kept them in the final game.
  • In God of War (PS4), Christopher Judge voiced the dialogue for Kratos before the developers had settled on the name 'Atreus' for his son. As such any line where Kratos addressed his son instead used "boy", with the plan being to redub the lines at a later date. However the team found they liked the flavor this gave the relationship between Kratos and Atreus and made it part of the final script.
  • In Hades, both Zagreus (the main character) and Skelly are voiced by Darren Korb, Supergiant Games' main music composer. This interview reveals that Korb had originally intended to only provide the scratch voices for both characters, but the team ended up liking his performances better than any of the actors who had auditioned for those roles.
  • During the production of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, the team's video editor Melina Juergens was used as a stand-in for the protagonist Senua while they perfected their motion capture techniques. She did such a good job that she was eventually permanently cast as Senua.
  • Hyrule Warriors was meant to be a working title — as announced in the first trailer — but it was eventually kept.
  • When putting together the opening animatic for Jak X, Queens of the Stone Age songs were chosen by the editor, since he would normally use placeholder music that fit the mood and personally appeals to him. As time went on, he fell in love with the final result so strongly, Naughty Dog ended up getting the license for the songs.
  • Katamari Damacy. Yuu Miyake had a tendency to make scratch recordings of song ideas into a little voice recorder while he walked through the hallways at Namco, which became a well-known quirk. As a joke, he put one of these scratch recordings in as the title song on an early build, leading to the now-iconic "Na naaaa, nanana nana na na nana na nana naaa" opening.
  • Kirby was originally just programmed in to develop a game around him and come up with a character design later on, but then the developers began to grow attached to the cute little blob, and the design was decided as final.
  • League of Legends:
    • According to this Ask Riot post, Rammus' extreme laconicity came about because of the attempt to replace his old voice track, which was considered too awful and sounded 'pretty hillbilly'. Not even wanting their own internal team to hear it, the devs recorded his current voice in a conference room in the space of fifteen minutes. They meant to replace it but never got the chance, and Rammus' one-word dialogue went on to be the defining point of his character (and spawned a community meme).
    • As the champion Illaoi was being developed, they tentatively named the eldritch sea god she worships "Nagakaborous" (a mishmash of a few mystical-sounding elements like "naga" and "ouroboros"). However, Riot kept it as they moved onto recording Illaoi's voiceover, and Rolonda Watts made the name sound so badass that they made it permanent, albeit as one of the primary titles it's known as alongside "The Bearded Lady", "Mother Serpent", and others.
    • One of Star Guardian Jinx's voice lines in the final game is "Slogan! Catchphrase! Tagline!" According to Sarah Anne Williams (Jinx's English VA), this was just a nondescript stage direction that she read out by mistake, but the delivery was so perfectly in-character that Riot decided to keep leave it in.
  • Magicka:
    • All horses in the game are toy-like and wooden. The reason is that the animator got frustrated by how hard it is to animate quadrupeds, and decided to just stick in the fake ones as a joke, not expecting them to stick. Obviously, they did.
    • In Chapter 3, during the airship ride, Vlad needs to leave the ship somehow for the story to make sense. So, they put in Vlad just jumping off the ship as a joke and placeholder. Everyone was so amused by this that it stuck.
  • The director of Metal Black suspected the game's grim themes of human extinction would not be accepted by Taito's executive, so he cooked up the "dummy story" to present to them, a more typical shmup Excuse Plot about fighting the bad guys of Gun Frontier. While the final game reflects the original intention, the "dummy story" was printed in the manual for the Sega Saturn port.
  • Monkey Island series:
    • Guybrush Threepwood's first name is an example of this. "Guybrush" comes in part from Deluxe Paint, the tool used by the artists to create the character sprite. Since the character had no name at this point, the file was simply called 'Guy'. When the file was saved, Steve Purcell, the artist responsible for the sprite, added 'brush' to the filename, indicating that it was the Deluxe Paint "brush file" for the "Guy" sprite. The file name was then "guybrush.bbm", so the developers eventually just started referring to this unnamed 'Guy' as "Guybrush".
    • According to Tim Schaefer, most of the dialogue in The Secret of Monkey Island was thought by him and the other writer to be placeholder, and that the bigwigs were going to hire some "real" dialogue writers to do the actual stuff, but the humorous placeholder dialogue was so funny that they decided to leave it in. This actually had quite an impact on the gameplay itself and led to the "rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle" bit.
  • Multiwinia, a spinoff of Darwinia, was supposed to be a temporary Working Title with the developers asking the creators for ideas. Ultimately, the original name stuck.
  • Ninja Gaiden was originally the prototype name for the franchise for the game in the Japan, but ended up being used as the official western title after the finalized Japanese title of Ninja Ryūkenden was apparently considered too difficult for westerners to pronounce.
  • The name of the Nintendo DS was introduced as a Working Title, short for "Developers' System"; its internal codename was Nitro, and it still carries the product code "NTR". As many previews noted it also stood for "Dual Screen", giving it early brand recognition, Nintendo ultimately decided to stick with "DS" as the final name.
  • The Square Enix RPG Octopath Traveler was unveiled under the name "Project Octopath Traveler". One year and the release of a demo later, and the "Project" part of the name was dropped, to no one's surprise.
  • From Overwatch:
    • Cole Cassidy was originally named "Jesse McCree", directly after a Blizzard dev, as a result of this. While the team was brainstorming a name for their grizzled cowboy gunman character, someone put it down as a placeholder, but it was consistently seen as more favorable to any other name they came up with, so it was made official with the real McCree's permission (though after the real McCree was let go from the company in 2021 due to unsavory allegations involving him in the company's sexual harassment scandals, the company also chose to rename the character).
    • Developers intended to use a voice clip of Ashe from the "Reunion" cinematic ("B.O.B.! DO SOMETHING!") as a stand-in for whatever she would eventually say when performing her ultimate ability in game (where she summons her omnic bodyguard B.O.B. to attack the enemy). However, the line and delivery from the cinematic was so perfect for the character they just kept it.
  • This almost happened during the development of Portal 2 - the placeholder voice of Wheatley was provided by animator Richard Lord, and due to positive reception Valve considered leaving it that way, but Lord didn't want to be the permanent voice. In the end they went with Stephen Merchant, who has generally been regarded as a better choice.
  • In Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, the names for the witnesses in the first witch trial were all place holders, but they were eventually kept for the final game. This fact is even referenced directly in one of the game's fourth-wall-breaking special DLC episodes.
  • Sakura Wars:
    • Ichiro Ogami was originally a placeholder name for the then-nameless protagonist when the 1996 game was being developed and that name ultimately stuck.
    • When Sakura Wars (2019) was announced in 2018, it was given the temporary name Shin Sakura Taisen. That name would eventually become the official Japanese title.
  • While in development, Sega would assign most of their hardware projects codenames derived from planets (such as the Sega 32X being called "Mars" in development). So no prizes for guessing what the Sega Saturn's codename was.
  • In Signs of the Sojourner, the symbols of the cards' special abilities are all basic shapes, which were meant to be placeholders but were kept in the full game.
  • The sound effect for placing power lines in SimCity 2000 (voice saying 'zzzzst') was a placeholder sound effect, but they kept it in anyway.
  • Originally, the Hungarian voiceovers for the characters in Sine Mora was supposed to be a placeholder by the Hungary-based developer Digital Reality with plans for a Japanese or English dub later. However it was so well received that Grasshopper Manufacture agreed to keep it exclusively dubbed in Hungarian and provided subtitles for other languages instead.
  • During an early brainstorming session for Spec Ops: The Line, the development team was having trouble coming up with names, so one of the writers suggested "Walker" as the name of the protagonist because he does a lot of walking during the game. He always hoped that someone else would come up with a better name, but no one did.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • In the first Super Smash Flash, Original Character Blade (belonging to a friend of the developer) was the first character programmed, initially intended to just test the physics. He was later kept, and his counterpart Blue was added alongside him.
  • Swordquest Fireworld was supposed to have clues to help you win the associated real-life contest, but they were never coded, so it just has numbers from 00 to 09.
  • The track "Training Stage" from Them's Fightin' Herds was originally a placeholder made to showcase the game's Variable Mix system. It was well-received by fans, and later made into the music for Target Practice mode (the actual Training Stage has a different version).
  • Triangle Strategy was given the name "Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY" and was finalized by removing "Project" from the prototype title.
  • ULTRAKILL: The infamous scream Husks belt out while falling was originally just a placeholder Stock Scream to test falling damage on enemies, but Hakita found it charmingly hilarious and decided to keep it in the full game.
  • Untitled Goose Game was its Working Title. Then House House changed it to just Goose. However, they liked how "Untitled Goose Game" sounded, so they changed it back. The soundtrack is also an example: the trailer used excerpts from Debussy's Préludes which were received well enough that they were adapted to create the game's final soundtrack.
  • Valve's Game Engines derive their name from the uninspiring fact that the source code for the Source Engine was stored in a directory named "Src". The engine was still under active development when Half-Life was approaching its release date, and the release-ready fork of the code was assigned a directory named "GoldSrc"; it therefore became necessary at Valve to draw a distinction between "Source" and "Gold Source". Thus, the original engine became GoldSrc, and the new one for Half-Life 2 became simply Source.
  • The developer of Yandere Simulator originally intended to name it something like Love/Sick, but the fans liked the name "Yandere Simulator" so much that it kinda stuck.

    Webcomics 
  • Bob and George, one of the first Mega Man Sprite Comics on the internet. Originally, the adventures of the various Mega Man characters were just a placeholder for the author's drawn webcomic. Numerous delays and difficulties caused the drawn comic to be unsuccessful both times that creator David Anez tried it. The second failure convinced Anez that the drawn comic was never going to work, at least not as well as the sprites had, so he stuck with sprites for the remainder of the strip's run.
  • For El Goonish Shive, Dan has mentioned in The Rant that he has considered making the Working Title he often uses, "Title pending", the permanent official title of a storyline. He finally does so with the "magic party'" storyline, which is a trilogy (thus far) comprising "Title Pending" (establishing the party), "Title Pending 2: Even More Pending" (getting ready for the party) and "Title Pending 3: Untitled Party". Ultimately subverted when the last page of the storyline retroactively titled it "Reflections".
    Dan: In other news, I think I know what I'm going to call this storyline now. It's tempting to leave it as Title Pending, but surely there'll be a more appropriately ironic storyline to use that with down the road.

    Western Animation 
  • The main title theme of Adventure Time was a scratch recording. Originally played and sung by Pendleton Ward, it features the sounds of storyboard artist Derek Drymon typing on a keyboard and squeaking his chair. Ward attempted to get a better recording of the theme song but couldn't ever capture the feeling quite right ever again, so the scratch recording stayed.
  • The co-creator of Blue's Clues, Traci Paige Johnson, did Blue's barks during table reads under the assumption they would get a more professional voice actor down the line. However, everybody liked Johnson's take on Blue enough that they kept her as Blue's voice.
  • DJ Khaled's "All I Do is Win" playing over Glomgold's Last Disrespects in the DuckTales (2017) episode "The 87 Cent Solution!" was originally just a temp track for the episode's animatic, but the crew loved it so much that they eventually pushed to get the rights to use the song in the actual episode.
  • The writers of Freakazoid! acted out and partially-improvved the script before lines were sent to the voice actors. However, when writer Paul Rugg played the title character, he proved to be so funny in the role that he was cast permanently.
  • In Futurama, the Hypnotoad's trademark droning sound was originally a placeholder, but it sounded so bizarrely wrong that they kept it.
  • In Garfield and Friends, Thom Huge originally just recorded placeholder dialog until they could hire other actors, but they ended up liking his work so much it was kept. Consequently he ends up playing Jon Arbuckle, Binky the Clown, Roy the Rooster, Gort the pig and assorted minor roles.
  • John Henry: Tim Hodge did the voices of the characters in the storyboards for the short. The short's director and producer asked Hodge if he wanted to have a part in the actual short as well as a cost-saving measure, and he was cast as MacTavish.
  • In this article released the day before the Canadian premiere for Muppet Babies (2018) , it was revealed that supervising director Matt Danner just did scratch work for Kermit before a notable voice would be cast, but the higher ups liked his performance, and cast him in the role proper.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: According to Lauren Faust's notes in an art book, "Ponyville" was a placeholder name for the show's setting until she could come up with a better one. Nonetheless, the name stuck.
  • Alex Hirsch provided a scratch recording of Hooty for The Owl House, doing a bad impression of Mickey Mouse as a gag. Dana Terrace found it hilarious, so Hirsch became the voice of Hooty.
  • Regular Show's regular use of licensed music from the 1970s and 80s during its early seasons was the result of this: after the creators used "Working for the Weekend" as a temp track in the animatic for a season one episode, the executives liked how well it fit so much that they not only promised to get the rights to use the song for that episode, but also encouraged the crew to continue using such songs in future ones.
  • The Simpsons:
    • An In-Universe case occurs in "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", when the producer of Itchy & Scratchy insists that the writers make a new dog character.
      Meyer: The rest of you writers start thinking up a name for this funky dog; I dunno, something along the lines of, say... Poochie, only more proactive.
      Krusty: Yeah!
      [Myers & Krusty leave]
      Oakley: So, Poochie okay with everybody?
      All: [reclining in their chairs] Yeah...
    • Similarly, a greeting card cartel headed by Mr. Costington decides to invent a new holiday named "Something like, um, 'Love Day', but not so lame". The name sticks.
    • In "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious", a Whole-Plot Reference to Mary Poppins, originally Julie Andrews was going to play Sherry Bobbins. But during the initial table read, Andrews wasn't available and series regular Maggie Roswell filled in. The producers liked it so much that she ended up voicing the character.
      • Similarly, the producers planned to have Michael Douglas voice Frank Grimes in the episode "Homer's Enemy", as the character is a parody of William Foster, the main character of the film Falling Down, whom Michael Douglas plays (Nicolas Cage was also considered for the role). But when principal cast member Hank Azaria started reading the lines, he instantly captured the frustrated, neurotic, cynical personality the character required, and the producers decided to keep Azaria as Grimes's voice actor.
    • When Matt Groening created The Simpsons as shorts for The Tracey Ullman Show, he submitted only basic sketches to the animators and assumed that the figures would be cleaned up in production. However, the animators merely used his drawings as actual layouts, which led to the crude appearance of the characters in the initial shorts. It wasn't until it was spun off into its own series that they received their present designs.
    • In the episode "Every Man's Dream", the song "Big City" by the space rock band Spacemen 3 is used to soundtrack a drug trip sequence. Episode writer J. Stewart Burns is a fan of the band and wrote the song into the script; Although he thought it fit well with the scene, he assumed that it would be replaced with a better known song by a better known artist (it isn't even one of Spacemen 3's best known songs) that would fit just as well. He was shocked to find out that it had remained in the final product.
  • The South Park episode "South Park Is Gay!" originally intended the Crab People conspiracy to be a placeholder plot until the creators could come up with a better idea. They were unable to, and they've been regretting it to this day.
  • Steven Universe was originally a Working Title made up because the creator knew the main character would be named Steven (after her younger brother) and happened to be thinking of Tenchi Universe at the time. They ended up getting attached to it, and so it became the final title and Steven's full name. In-universe, the admitted oddness of the name was explained by the main character's musician father Greg legally changing his last name from DeMayo to his Stage Name of Mr. Universe shortly after meeting Steven's mother; the stage name itself being the title of a Space Oddity-esque song.
  • On Wander over Yonder, Will Arnett was originally meant to voice Emperor Awesome, with Sam Riegel (the show's voice director, though also a professional voice actor himself) doing scratch work on what the character should sound like. He ended up keeping the role when the former wasn't available in time, with Arnett going on to later voice a different character instead. However, this allowed Emperor Awesome to be a recurring character instead of a one-shot.
  • The Weekenders: When he pitched the show, creator Doug Langdale didn't actually give the cartoon a name, as it was less a pitch and more him sharing childhood stories out of desperation when they passed on his other ideas. When it got greenlit, he learned that someone at the studio (no one knows who) decided to call it "The Weekenders" as a placeholder title. The name stuck, despite no one being all that fond of it and even Disney CEO Michael Eisner saying it was the sole thing he hated about the show.
  • According to the series' creators, Wishfart (a play on "wish" and "brainfart") was originally intended to be a Working Title, but it ended up growing on them, so they kept it.

    Real Life 
  • George Williams College (Williams Bay, WI) had a temporary meeting hall named Lewis Auditorium, built to be used until a permanent auditorium building could be designed and built. Lewis Auditorium ended up being used for about 100 years before being declared "unfit for human occupation" by the state.
  • The Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 World's Fair, was originally supposed to be dismantled again in 1909 — and stuck on far longer because a giant iron tower in the middle of Paris works great as a broadcast antenna. Now you can't even imagine the city of Paris without that thing.
  • When West Germany was founded after World War II, the set of laws it was based upon were called "Basic Law" instead of "Constitution", reserving the establishment of a constitution for all of Germany for someday in the future when West and East Germany reunite. When that finally happened, it was decided to simply keep the Basic Law and extend its area of application to the East German territory (as Article 23 of the Basic Law allowed - which was then subsequently changed to make a reoccurence impossible).
  • The predecessor to the Pentagon (headquarters of the US Department of Defense) was a series of temporary buildings built in World War I. Part of the reason the Pentagon was built was to avoid building more permanent "temporary" buildings.
    • The Pentagon itself could have been temporary. The floors were built to support floor loads of up to 150 pounds per square foot in case it was used for file storage after World War II was finished.
  • The Roosevelt Island Tramway was completed in May 1976, meant to be just a temporary stopgap until the subway station linking the island with the rest of Manhattan could be completed. As the years went on and the subway station got further and further delayed, the tram gained more and more popularity; by the time the subway station finally opened in October 1989, it had long been decided the Tramway would remain in place as well. The Tramway still runs to this day, and is popular enough to have been featured in movies and TV shows, and was the setting of at least one theme park ride!
  • During the American Locomotive Company's construction of Union Pacific's 4-8-8-4 class of steam locomotives in the 1940s, an unknown worker scrawled "Big Boy" in chalk on the front of the lead locomotive, No. 4000. The name stuck, and the entire series has been officially known as the Union Pacific Big Boy ever since. As a Mythology Gag to the origin of the name, the only operating locomotive of the class, No. 4014, occasionally has "Big Boy" scrawled on the front.
  • The K2 mountain ended up having the catalogue numbering from a British topography survey becoming its official name, as it turned out that it didn't really have any local name prior to that because it was so remote. And as Fosco Maraini put it, it kinda fits.
    "... just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last."
  • In 1993, a small DIY company were planning an advertising campaign for their products and, until they came up with a slogan, chose the phrase "It does Exactly What It Says on the Tin" as a phrase of about the same size so that posters and packaging could be designed and easily edited before production as soon as they came up with a proper slogan. They never did come up with a slogan they liked and since the campaign turned Ronseal into a market leader (and a Trope Namer) they probably never will.
  • In Reston, Virginia, there is a street named Temporary Road. Initially, it was supposed to be a temporary road until a bridge over the highway got built, but then, people kept using it. It didn't have a name, so people called it "Temporary Road" because that's what the sign said.
  • The original Meijer's Thrifty Acres (now known as just Meijer), a combination discount store and supermarket based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was built with lots of windows and an extra-thick floor in case the then-novel concept failed, so that the building could be easily converted to a car lot. Fortunately, Meijer took off, so the features remained until the store was rebuilt about a decade into the 21st century.
  • Use of the term "tank" to describe an armored fighting vehicle was originally a bit of code invented by the British to obfuscate what they were actually building, hoping that people would assume the word referred to water storage units. Of course, the name ended up sticking, at least in the English language.
  • Since the 1980s, the New Zealand Parliament has used the same biscuit (cookies for Americans) tin to draw numbers out of to determine which proposed bills gets debated in what order. This was to prevent bills from being pushed back end of the list through procedural antics. It was the first thing the Parliament had on hand after the Parliament reforms of the 1980's and has been used ever since.
  • "Bluetooth" was chosen as the code name for the project to create a standard for wireless technology used by mobile devices in 1997. Two of the project employees, Jim Kardach of Intel and Sven Mattisson of Ericsson, had a discussion about Viking history over beers and Mattisson mentioned The Long Ships and talked about the life of Harald Bluetooth. Harald's role in uniting Norway and Denmark and the catchiness of his nickname made Bluetooth seem like an appropriate moniker to help pitch the idea of combining phone and computer technologies, but it was just a project name and everyone fully intended to give it a much more marketable name before the standard was formally launched. But they had trouble finding a name that wasn't already used, and the name Bluetooth had already become so entrenched in the tech community they just stuck with it, keeping a prominent nod to Harald Bluetooth by using the HB bind rune as its logo.
  • The Linux kernel. Beginning in 1983, the GNU project set out to create a free and open-source replacement for Unix. By the start of The '90s, the project had succeeded creating all of the essential components of a Unix-like OS save for one; the kernel, which is the core of the operating system that interacts with the hardware and manages all of the other programs running on the system. While the GNU project had started development on a kernel, called the Hurd, progress was slow. Meanwhile, a student named Linus Torvalds began development of an open-source, Unix-like kernel called Linux. When Linux's development started progressing much faster than Hurd's, the GNU project decided to combine their completed work with Torvalds' kernel, so that they would have a complete open-source operating system right away. While the GNU developers intended this solution as a mere stopgap until the Hurd was ready, after nearly 40 years of development, Hurd remains Vaporwarenote , while Linux development shows no signs of slowing down.
  • The Working Title for the original Xbox was the "DirectX Box". After struggling to come up with a more marketable name, Microsoft figured out that simply dropping the "Direct" part worked just fine.
  • The central black hole of the Milky Way's weird designation of Sagittarius A* came from it originally being designated "The Sagittarius A radio source" (aka, strongest radio source found in the direction of the Sagittarius constellation. Before scientist knew what it was coming from), with an asterisk later added to note that it was an outlier. Even when the source in question was discovered to have been a giant black hole the designation stuck around and the asterisk is often pronounced "Star" to make the entire thing less of a mouthful.
  • The city of Florence, Kentucky has a prominent water tower that was intended to, along with providing water, advertise the upcoming Florence Mall. However, the tower was completed two years before the mall; to avoid breaking advertising laws, the words "FLORENCE MALL" were slightly repainted to "FLORENCE Y'ALL". The intention was to restore the original paint job when the mall was completed, but the people instead decided to leave it as it was.
  • Following the destruction of a railway bridge in the disastrous accident at Lewisham in 1957, a temporary trestle bridge was hastily erected as a replacement. That temporary replacement has remained in use ever since.
  • Two instances of Apple products have names that stuck around just because the public had warmed up to the code name:
    • Mac OS X during the big cats era. The OS was originally to go with the more normal 10.X numbering scheme with the big cat name as a codename, but due to huge prevalence of the codename being used in public, Apple started using the big cat names as part of the marketing for the OS.
    • The Macintosh itself. Originally a code name (which Steve Jobs wanted to change to "Bicycle" at one point due to the name being suggested by someone he didn't like and snatched the project from), the name stuck around due to how the engineers in the project had warmed up to, much to Jobs' chagrin. In the end Jobs just threw in the towel and accepted it after the marketing firm he hired to come up with a name for the computer gave him even worse names.

Top