Something, often a company, that is described with an adjective in the title that is entirely at odds with what it actually does. Commonly, something evil will be paired with a nice-sounding adjective. This also applies when the title's implications are opposed to what the company/organization/Evil Overlord does. Basically, when you apply a completely inappropriate adjective to something (often to make it seem better), that's this trope. Look for characters exclaiming "Hey...this isn't happy!" or something similar.
Oppressive dictatorships in fiction (especially tiny ones) will have long names incorporating the words "Free," "Democratic," "Republic," "of the People," or any combination thereof.
This is a Newspeak trope. There is usually a rather pointed takeaway for the audience about the people doing the naming: a society that uses vicious irony like this is never, ever nice or just misunderstood.
- "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Evildoers take offense to someone describing an evil deed with an accurate term.
- Deadly Euphemism: This trope as applied to death or murder.
- Deceptively Silly Title
- Fluffy the Terrible: Also a trope where something fearsome has a harmless name; generally, though, Fluffy the Terrible tends to be silly or goofy, whereas Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom tends to be a lot darker.
- Happy Fun Ball: A trope where something's appearance doesn't match its function.
- Honest John's Dealership: Many examples of that trope apply this to themselves, as evidenced by the trope name.
- Killer Rabbit: A critter whose cuteness doesn't match its deadliness.
- Nonindicative Name: For broader cases of name not matching reality.
- Ominous Mundanity: Where the name is neither deceptively pleasant nor needlessly terrifying, just (eerily) utilitarian.
- Peace & Love Incorporated: This trope as applied to a corporation.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: This trope as applied to a country or government.
- Schmuck Bait: When a name is a transparent and pathetic attempt, if an attempt is made at all, to make something look good, but it still looks glaringly suspicious. Alternatively, it attempts to warn about something horrible, but that very attempt attracts people.
- Subverted Kids' Show
- The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: A punishment turns out to be much worse than it initially appears to be.
- Totally Not a Criminal Front: A criminal organization masquerading as a legitimate business.
- Deathbringer the Adorable: The inverse of this trope, where something harmless has a fearsome name.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast
- Villain with Good Publicity: Most likely what the "evil" corporation wanted to achieve with the name.
- Attack on Titan has the nice sounding Island of Paradis which is the place where the three Walls are situated, in reality it's infested with possibly thousands of mindless man-eating Titans, thus the phrase "Being sent to Paradise" means being transformed into a mindless human-devouring monster to roam the island for all eternity.
- Eureka Seven:
- The Summer of Love was a worldwide catastrophe that sparked tremendous conflict and civil war. It is feared that, if it is allowed to occur, the Second Summer of Love could mean The End of the World as We Know It.
- Also, the research station that performs inhumane and usually fatal experiments on teenage girls is nicknamed "Joy Division" by the scientists there.
- The F.L.E.I.A. in Code Geass is named for Freya, the Norse goddess of love and beauty. Its function is to create a huge Sphere of Destruction using a combination of nuclear fission and Sakuradite.
- The bad guys of 20th Century Boys are the "Friendship Democratic Party". They're a front for an evil cult.
- Flying Ghost Ship has a very cheerful advertisment for the "Boa Juice". Which melts people alive.
- The Satchi, cyber law-enforcers in Den-noh Coil. They look like giant brown standing peanuts with smiley-faces painted on. Yeah.
- This has to be the only reason King Dedede ordered monsters from Holy Nightmare in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!. It doesn't help that a few of the soon-to-be-gigantic enemies are pretty cute at first.
- ∀ Gundam: When you hear the words "Moonlight Butterfly", your first thought is probably something beautiful and harmless. And while it is indeed rather beautiful in action, it also happens to be an unstoppable apocalypse weapon capable of ending all human civilization... and it's already done so at least once.
- The "Friendship and Rapport Training Camp" in Food Wars!. It sounds like fun, and the flyer that goes out to the first-year students that are going there is very cute, with a little cartoon chef mascot and everything! And then you remember that this is Tootsuki, one of the most elite and brutal cooking schools in the world, and that the "training camp" is a week-long meatgrinder of non-stop training courses, arranged by some of the INCREDIBLY rare alumni of the school. It's revealed that up to half of the first-years in every generation of students are eliminated and expelled in this first hurdle alone.
- One Piece: The Human Auctioning House in the Sabaody Archipelago where nobles and other rich folks can buy slaves despite the fact that slavery has been deemed illegal for centuries is known as the "Public Employment Security Office" by the Marines.
- The "Merry-Go-Round" in the Magical Girl Crisis Crossover Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights, an immense techno-organic tower to which the prisoners of Dead End are not bound, but grafted. Its purpose is to use the unending agony of the hundreds of captive magical girls to cause an Omniversal Metaphysical Negation.
- The Lemarchand puzzle boxes from Hellraiser. Their real name is the Lament Configuration.
- Consumer Recreation Services in The Game (1997).
- In Django Unchained, the plantation of a particularly sadistic slaveowner, Calvin Candie, is called "Candyland".
- The German movie The Colony (2016) takes place in the compound of a Cult that's set up shop in a secluded area of the Chilean Andes. The place in question is called "Colonia Dignidad," which translates to Dignity Colony.
- In season two of Babylon 5, Earth's government actually creates a Ministry of Peace (or minipax as they like to call it). The results are predictable.
- In Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, of all places, X the Owl suggests that bombs should be renamed to "Surprise Treats."
- The Plot Against America: President Charles Lindbergh and Rabbi Bengelsdorf use benign rhetoric and naming conventions to obscure their true intention of stripping American Jews of their cultural identity because they're seen as aliens who are not American enough. Bengelsdorf runs Lindbergh's "Office on American Absorption," tasked with "absorbing" Jews into American society, even though they're already Americans. An initiative to indoctrinate Jewish boys by sending them to live on Midwest farms is called "Just Folks."
- George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four: Is all about twisting language to guide thought.
- The government has four chief buildings: The Ministry of Truth, in charge of propaganda, the Ministry of Peace, in charge of the military, the Ministry of Plenty, in charge of rationing supplies, and the Ministry of Love, in charge of torturing prisoners.
- The tyrannical government is called Big Brother.
- The appendix notes that "joycamp" is the Newspeak term for a forced-labor camp.
- The Sword of Truth series loves this one. The eponymous sword's magic doesn't operate based on truth, but on the wielder's perceptions, whether or not they're accurate. A "death spell" doesn't kill people; it's used to save their life. And a "maternity spell" is nothing tender or nurturing; it's used to take the target hostage by creating Synchronization between the caster and the target. It's even lampshaded when one of the characters reflects on the fact that she suggested to the Big Bad he start styling himself "Emperor Jagang the Just".
- The trade paperback of Jhonen Vasquez' Squee series is called Squee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors, and not without reason.
- Mocked in America (The Book) by Jon Stewart, which contains a chart demonstrating how as the Congo's "Inherent Lies in Name" increased, so did its oppression level.
Sub-saharan Africa's largest nation has grown more oppressive over the decades, and its name has kept pace.
Congo. Lies in name; 0. Oppression level; bloody.
Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 1. Oppression level; sadistic.
Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 2. Oppression level; genocidal.
People's Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 3. Oppression level; inhuman.
Shiny Happy People's Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lies in name; 5. Oppression level; hide.
- In the Strugatsky Brothers' novel Hard to Be a God, a lot a villages are renamed from their Wretched Hive names to this trope. Perhaps in hopes it will make them better.
- Animorphs gives us The Sharing, an organization full of nice, friendly people who do charity work and have a great time doing it. And after you are initiated, a parasitic alien crawls into your ear and you are a slave to the invading alien race.
- The Chronicles of Narnia:
- In "Little Harmonic Labyrinth" from Gödel, Escher, Bach, the Tortoise was promised by a fortune teller "a stroke of Good Fortune," and it happens to him and Achilles in the form of one "Hexachlorophene J. Goodfortune, Kidnapper-At-Large, and Devourer of Tortoises par Excellence."
- In The Grimnoir Chronicles, the world is protected by "Peace Rays," invented by none other than Nikola Tesla himself.
- In the novel The Tomorrow File the United States 20 Minutes into the Future renames the government departments. The Department of Defense is called the Department of Peace. The Department of Health, Education and Welfare becomes the Department of Bliss. Other departments are also renamed. These names are determined by "The Office of Linguistic Truth".
- Hologram Fun World, in Galaxy of Fear and a few other parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It's an amusement park, but attendance has been suffering and the Big Bad is testing his Nightmare Machine on the few people still coming.
- In That Hideous Strength, the evil organization is the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments, or N.I.C.E. Naturally, they're not very nice at all.
- The Hunger Games:
- The role of the Peacekeepers isn't as sweet as it sounds. (Bit like in Real Life, then?)
- Everything surrounding the Hunger Games is treated as fun and entertaining by the Capitol, where becoming a tribute is seen as an honor. The Career Districts (1, 2, and 4) also share the same opinion, to the point that Reapings reportedly have to include voting because so many kids want to volunteer themselves. To everyone from the other Districts, however, they're seen as what they really are: horrible deadly games where parents are regularly forced to see their kids battle to the death just to hammer in the idea how powerless they are.
- One Nation, Under Jupiter: Camp Piety, where children suspected of atheism are tortured.
- The YA novel Secrets Not Meant to be Kept features Treehouse, a preschool with a sterling reputation, which has been in operation for nearly twenty years. There, kids play wholesome-sounding games like "TV-star" and "hide-and-seek." Treehouse is actually a toddler sex ring. "TV-star" is where the kids are forced to perform sex acts on camera, and for this version of hide and seek, the kids have to take off their clothes.
- Pinocchio's book and movie incarnations include the location "Pleasure Island", where young boys are allowed to indulge their every whim until being magically transformed into donkeys and sold to be worked to death.
- According to the Discworld Fools' Guild Diary, the Guild enforcers — who deal with Fools who break the very serious rules of clowning with terminal slapstick — are officially known as the Jolly Good Pals. They are unofficially, and more accurately, known as the Bloody Fools.
- Forgotten Realms spell "Nybor's Joyful Voyage". That Nybor also devised a whole line of Agony Beam spells can be counted as a subtle hint. It unsafely teleports one victim to a random place 1-100 miles away from the point of origin (including straight up and down).
The "joyful" nature of Nybor's voyage refers to the joy of the spell's caster rather than that of its target.
- The Agony Beam spells also fall into this trope. "Gentle reminder," which inflicts intense pain, "mild admonishment," which causes prolonged torture, and "stern reproof," which is so painful it can kill its target. By the time you get to wrathful castigation, it's time to be afraid.
- Paranoia: Alpha Complex practices this trope heavily, with flowery euphemisms for mind-control drugs and a brutal bloodsport called FunBall. At the same time, though, the most dangerous things in Alpha Complex tend to have absolutely honest and deeply intimidating names.
- In Adeptus Evangelion, the weapons company HELIOS manufactures a MASER pistol for Evangelion use. The design puts massive strain on the weapon's internal battery, occasionally causing what HELIOS advertises as a "bonus energy release." It explodes.
- Fable II features a mission to become Super Best Friends with Chesty the treasure chest, who has a rather twisted idea of what constitutes "fun".
- Chesty returns for another side quest in Fable III'
- Future Fun Land in Diddy Kong Racing. Giant stone spikes, electric fences and spaceships shooting at the player character are probably not what most people would expect from the "fun" part of the name.
- Peaceful Pier in Donkey Kong Country Returns is anything but peaceful due to sharks and a pirate ship firing cannonballs at you. Though, it could just mean that the pier is peaceful—the ocean is not.
- In the pre-console days, Evil Otto of Berzerk! was a bouncing, smiley "have a nice day" face which was trying to kill you. So great is Evil Otto's urge to destroy the Humanoid that he will literally steamroll over his allies just to get a shot at you — grinning all the while. His hatred was so great that he'd go through the electric death walls to get to you, curse his bright smiliness.
- The Sims 3 features a building that appears to be
a local branchthe headquarters of the Outstanding Citizens Warehouse Corporation. It is an immense, run-down warehouse where a sim may join, and advance through the criminal career.
- Left 4 Dead has the "Survival Mode". As they say on the poster, "It doesn't end well."
- Mario Party 7: Each of the Bowser minigames has a cheery-sounding Excited Episode Title! like "Funstacle Course!" or "Treasure Dome!", but they're all horrible obstacle courses with scary music and Bowser's minions shooting fire at you.
"Tower of Love and Peace. Stay away!" sign for the Tower of Thunder, which zaps people's houses if they don't obey Porky
- EarthBound (1994): Peaceful Rest Valley is populated mostly by alien invaders, killer robots, and exploding trees. And when you consider "peaceful rest" probably refers to the likely fate of anyone who blunders in...
- Mother 3 features the following sign:
- The Hidden Fun Stuff of Dwarf Fortress. Demonic Invaders that attack your fortress if you dig too deep.
- World of Warcraft has Professor Putricide's Laboratory of Alchemical Horrors and Fun. It's not that fun.
- From Final Fantasy VII, we have Shinra Inc's Public Safety Maintenance Department, just a fancy euphemism for the company's army and police force. Said department has a sub-branch known as The Investigative Division of General Affairs Department, a.k.a. the Turks, highly skilled special agents that perform black ops on behalf of the corporation, including kidnappings and assassinations.
- Our Darker Purpose. Anything with a pleasant-seeming name can be safely expected to be malevolent, dangerous, or at least unpleasant, but special points must go to the Caring Friends.
- Guild Wars 2 has an Inquest lab called The Funhouse.
- The Modern Warfare 2 mission "Exodus" takes place in an upper class suburb known as Arcadia, a few miles away from Washington D.C. Arcadia was the ancient Greek kingdom that was supposed be in a peaceful wilderness. Here, it's a hotly contested war-zone between the U.S. and Ultranationalist Russian armies.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker features the titular Peace Walker, a giant mech with nuclear launch capability and is set to "Fail Deadly"(as in, if it loses it's signal to NORAD, it launches a nuclear strike, assuming NORAD has been wiped out). The name comes from the idea that it's the "Perfect Deterrent" to nuclear war and thus guarantees Peace.
- Divinity: Original Sin II: The island prison where the Divine Order takes Sourcerers to inflict a Fate Worse than Death is named Fort Joy.
- Soul Nomad & the World Eaters: In the Demon Path, after taking over the Kingdom of Orviska, declaring it the base for their evil empire, and crowning themself as its Devourlord, Revya is forced to sleep to recuperate, allowing Gig to take control of their body. When they wake up forty-four days later, they find out that Gig decided to name their empire the "BFF Empire". Everyone thinks it's lame, but Gig refuses to change the name and Revya just accepts it.
- The Vaults of Fallout, advertisement featuring the Vaults show them as safe havens to protect its occupants from nuclear destruction, and they can enjoy comfortable living standards for years. In truth only a hand full of them work as advertised, the rest of the Vaults are used as controlled experiments meant to test its subjects on numerous experiments. Raging from the mundane, to inhumanely cruel. Leading to some Vaults having their occupants getting killed from them.
- Charlie the Unicorn travels to Candy Mountain... only to have his kidney stolen when he goes inside.
- This quote:
What the HELL is up with these candy companies? Little teeny bars are called "Fun Size".. Damn, What's so fun about a smaller candybar?!?
- Strong Bad makes the same joke in The House That Gave Sucky Treats.
- The Equestrians from Void of the Stars use rainbow weapons. These are used to destroy starships and bombard planets.
- The Venezuelan satirical blog Chigüire Bipolar has the article Maduro confuses the "Homeland's Plan" [i.e. the government plan] with Orwell's 1984, over the creation of the "Newscast of Truth" in Real Life.
- Girl Genius:
- ZigZagged with "Fun-sized mobile agony and death dispensers", the official name of what are commonly called "devil dogs". It should be noted that given the propensities of the Heterodyne Family "Fun-size" being mechanical horrors the size of a bear is only to be expected. Just imagine if they'd been made by the Wulfenbach clan...
- Also, the Happy Fun Ball Of Death, which apparently stalks the castle in a week-long cycle.
Ball: Clung! Clung!Agatha: Why do I even have one of those?Tiktoffen: Huh. I wondered where that went on Tuesdays.Zola: Gillll!
- Gil at one point used a fabric-destroying grenade called the Wacky Weave Destabilizer on Zeetha, who was fortunately wearing special underwear. He had wanted to destroy her Chain Mail Bikini with a Jolly Fun-Time Oxidation Enhancer.
- Done by Ridley in Planet Zebeth, with his bar's Super Happy Fun Slide. It is a slide, but the wall above the entrance disguises the fact that it leads down to a deep-fryer; any small enemies who enter the slide are cooked up and served to hungry bar patrons. Amazingly, none of the minions notice the deception; presumably due to the state of its riders, word-of-mouth recognition of the slide is based solely on its name.
- Sinfest has National Perfection Agency, Beelze-Bud and Illumi-nicey (the New Illuminati Logo).
- In a strip of Help Desk, in an attempt to get a better public image, The Dark Lord of Ubersoft legally changes his name to "Mr. Bunny, the Hoppy Computer Guy." It doesn't really work.
- In the second campaign of Critical Role, Jester and Nott concoct a plan blow up some black powder with an explosive arrow to cause a massive explosion, and call the plan "Flutternutter" . With such a cute name, they are very motivated to use it.
- In the same campaign, the group acquires a sphere that serves as a portal to a demiplane where time moves faster that served as the abode of a powerful mage, with many, many traps and dangers. It's officially known as the Archmage's Bane. The group's name for it? The Happy Fun Ball.
- Mom's Friendly Surveillance Company
- In the episode "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles":
Farnsworth: Teddy Bear Junction: The worst scum hole in the galaxy.
- The Simpsons:
- "Ooh! Super fun happy slide!" (which just happens to lead into a pit full of vampires)
- Also, Motherloving Sugar Corporation. Named for its founder, Garth Motherloving, formerly Garth Hitler.
- Which also somewhat doubles as a form of Gosh Dangit To Heck. Three guesses what the "loving" part really is supposed to be...
- The Fairly OddParents!. "Fun box, oh fun box, so small and square and dark. Fun box, oh fun box, check out these cool fun locks, hey!"
- In fact, anything to do with Flappy Bob and his two assistants, Happy Peppy Gary and Happy Peppy Betty.
- On Sealab2021, Shanks takes the crew on a "bonding mission" to hunt Chupacabra on "Happy Fun-Time Island", which is infested with talking tree cobras.
Quinn: "Happy Fun-Time"? Who the hell named this island?
- In 1974, India under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi joined the the nuclear club, with a test dubbed Smiling Buddha.
- The French Revolution's Committee of Public Safety. By "Safety" they meant Reign of Terror. Though at that time, the meaning of the phrase "public safety" meant "the greater good" and signified the state of emergency they were under.
- Many totalitarian regimes use this sort of technique as a form of propaganda. See Maximum Fun Chamber, People's Republic of Tyranny.
- Stalin's USSR had "the ultimate act of social security." Guess what that means? Death penalty. Later, they realized how stupid it sounds and changed the legal formula to the much more appropriate-sounding "ultimate act of punishment." More infamously, Those Wacky Nazis similarly referred to The Holocaust as the "Final Solution" (to the "Jewish problem").
- It's very common, at least in the U.S.A. and its member states, for legislation to be given names that are either unrelated to the legislation in question or, often, actually in contradiction to what the legislation does, purely for propaganda uses. This is especially common if the act in question is written by or for powerful business interests. Examples include things like "The Clean Water Act" or "The Job Creation Act" or "The USA PATRIOT Act". After all... who would want to vote against something called "The Clean Skies and Fair Treatment for Innocent Victims Act" or the "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act"?
- Joe Biden's infamous "Inflation Reduction Act" does absolutely nothing to reduce inflation, and quite a lot of things that actually increase it!
- The British Parliament gets around this by naming acts in Beige Prose, always of the form "General Topic (Optional Specific Subtopic) Act Year".
- In recent years there has also been a trend in the U.S. toward informally assigning girls' names to legislation (usually laws concerning punishment and/or registration of convicted sex offenders); e.g., "Megan's Law," "Jessica's Law." (Combines this trope with Think of the Children! as well as Missing White Woman Syndrome).
- The girl's name thing tends to be that the law is named after a girl who fell victim to the specific thing the law is addressing (for example, "Amber Alert" isn't specifically named after the color "amber", but Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered).
- In Israel, there was a proposal named the "Law for the Protection of Written Journalism", which would have ordered the closure of any newspaper that falls under certain conditions fulfilled pretty much only by Israel Hayom, one of the only right-wing newspapers in Israel. This is actually an interesting case of restricting press freedom, as it is the opposition trying to silence pro-government views.
- The National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 is this to some degree. On one hand, its most famous provision is one that allows warrantless indefinite detention for those suspected of terrorism in certain circumstances. However, most of the act actually really was about defense matters—that is, it was the annual appropriations act intended to keep the military fully supplied for the coming fiscal year.
- In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) decides whether or not a drug should be provided by the NHS — so NICE can be responsible for denying life-prolonging treatments for reasons of expense... although sometimes they do this to avoid having to shut down care in areas that affect more people.
- A "screw you, M.A.F.I.A.A." project, mass implementation of which would cause the litigous sort of publishers either lobby prohibition of WiFi as we know it or weep in futility?
- In France, it is frequent to add the epithet "social" to things… that are not. If you fire 1000 workers for the sake of profitability, call it a "social plan"; If you raise the VAT, making life more expensive for poorer consumers, call it the "social VAT", etc. Also, recently the term "videosurveillance" has been replaced by "videoprotection". Reassuring, isn't it?
- Imperial Japan's department of biological and chemical warfare research is called the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department.
- Al-Qaeda puts out an English-language magazine called Inspire. Seriously.
- The United States' Department of War became the Department of Defense in 1947. It's arguable as to whether America has fought a truly defensive war since... ever.
- Technically speaking the Department of War became the Department of the Army (and arguably the Department of the Air Force). The Department of Defense took the War Department and the Navy Department's Cabinet seats (there was no department that ran all the military branches at the same time after the creation of the Navy Department in 1798note until 1947) and became their boss.
- The planned "Data Protection Agreement" between the EU and the US. The goal is to grant US agencies legal wholesale access to data on European citizens (suspicious or not, nevermind).
- Although short-lived, the Venezuelan government created the 'Newscast of Truth', a very much not balanced news space on forced broadcast in national TV.
- The infamous Colonia Dignidad in Chile was a cult commune led by a Nazi pedophile priest; during Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, the place was also a front for a clandestine prison and torture center for political opponents. The place's name means "Dignity Colony".
- The U.S. has in its arsenal a nuclear missile that separates into ten warheads, each of which can take out a separate city, for a total of ten cities anihilated by a single missile. The missile's name: the Peacekeeper.
- The U.S. Department of Defense at one time measured the amount of radioactivity from strontium-90 (a radionuclide found in nuclear fallout) in a subject's body by the doublespeak term "sunshine units." Public ridicule of the term (partially brought on by George Carlin's routine about using euphemistic language) forced the DoD to change the term to the more accurate and less super happy fun "strontium units."