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One of many ways to breathe new life into something is to change its name. Sometimes the old name is an Artifact Title that no longer fits, or it's just not hip enough for the audiences of today. Maybe it's a Meaningful Rename to signify personal growth or a life-changing event.

But for whatever reason, the name change doesn't fit. Fans may find that the old name fit better than the new one, or was more recognizable, or more iconic. Or maybe the event that precipitated the name change wasn't as life-changing as previously thought. Or maybe nostalgia takes over. So the name gets changed back.

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This trope can also apply for when a name change is part of a publicity stunt and is intentionally short-lived. See also Sudden Name Change for when a name is changed but doesn't change back.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • International House of Pancakes (better known as IHOP) faced a backlash in 2018 when they announced they were going to change the name of their restaurant chain to "IHOB" (with the "B" standing for "Burgers") to emphasize their burger selection. The name change turned out to be temporary, as they returned to the IHOP name a month later.
  • Pizza Hut is changing its name to Pizza Hut Hut for Superbowl LIII
  • In the run-up to The Simpson's Movie, numerous 7-Eleven Stores in North America renamed themselves "Kwik-E-Mart" with Simpsons themed signage on and inside the building. After the movie promotion was over the names returned to 7-Eleven

    Comic Books 
  • Action Comics was revamped in 1988 as a weekly anthology series, and was renamed Action Comics Weekly. The format change was dropped a year later, and the book's title was returned to normal.
  • Black Panther was created just before the Black Panther organization. For a short time T'Challa changed to "Black Leopard" to avoid Unfortunate Implications, but this didn't last long.
  • Jason Todd picked up the Red Robin costume and name while traveling the multiverse only to return to being the Red Hood sometime after returning home.
  • The Golden-Age Starman villain The Mist went by the name "Nimbus" in the Will Payton Starman series, but was back to calling himself The Mist by the time of the Jack Knight series.
  • Post-Crisis, the first Superman series was renamed Adventures of Superman with issue #424, while a second Superman series was launched. Following Infinite Crisis, the second Superman series was cancelled, and the original title returned to the name Superman with issue #650.
  • Beast Boy changed his name to "Changeling" when he joined the Teen Titans in 1980. This change lasted about twenty years, before he went back to the Beast Boy name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The main character on The Greatest American Hero was originally named Ralph Hinkley, but after the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr., the character's last name was temporarily changed to "Hanley" during the first season. It was reverted back to "Hinkley" by Season 2.
  • On Parks and Recreation, Jerry retires temporarily. When he returns to work, he reveals that his name is actually Gary and they've been saying it wrong all this time. He asks that they call him Gary from then on. Instead, April starts calling him "Larry" and the others join in. In the final season (which takes place three years after the previous one by which time the character is now called "Terry"), Donna intentionally "misprints" his name as "Gary" on a wedding seating chart and the rest of the cast seize on it as another hilarious name change again (having forgotten it's his actual name). He tears up a little at finally being called by his real name by his best friends.
  • Saturday Night Live: "Weekend Update" went through a number of name changes (including "SNL NewsBreak" and "Saturday Night News") when Dick Ebersol produced the show in the early 1980s, but returned to its original name when Lorne Michaels returned as producer in 1985.
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    Music 
  • Kajagoogoo shortened their name to "Kaja" before breaking up in 1985, but went by their original name when they reunited in the 2000s.
  • On their last record before they disbanded in 1994, the New Kids on the Block shortened their name to NKOTB.
  • For one album, The J. Geils Band shortened their name to just "Geils". They changed it back on the following record.
  • For a time in the 1990s, MC Hammer dropped the "M.C." from his name and went by just "Hammer".
  • When he first started in the record business in the mid-1970s, John Mellencamp's name was changed to "Johnny Cougar" by his then-manager. After achieving some success, he was able to refer to himself as "John Cougar Mellencamp" beginning in 1983. Finally, in 1991, he dropped the "Cougar" completely and recorded using his given name.
  • Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in 1993. The public resorted to calling him "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince" until he finally went back to his original name in 2000.
  • In 1971, Dionne Warwick added an "e" to the end of her last name on the advice of an astrologer friend, but removed it after a few years.
  • When Madonna was into Kabbalah, she wanted to be called "Esther" but it never took and everyone kept on calling her Madonna.
  • Rapper Sean Combs can't seem to stick with a stage name for too long....Puff Daddy....Puffy....Sean "Puffy" Combs, P. Diddy, ....
  • Aly & A.J. changed their name to 78violet (pronounced "seventy-eight violet") when they returned to making music in 2012, but they only released a single song before going on a hiatus again. They then made a more substantial comeback in 2017 and changed their name back to Aly & AJ.
  • The Who had already settled on the name before their manager persuaded them to release their debut single under the name "The High Numbers". They reverted to their preferred moniker after the single flopped. When it was reissued many years later to promote the Quadrophenia movie, it was again credited to The High Numbers as a kind of Mythology Gag, and became a minor hit with that credit.
  • Massive Attack shortened their name to "Massive" for the single release of their Signature Song "Unfinished Sympathy", because it came out at the time of the First Gulf War and radio stations weren't keen on playing bands with words like "Attack" in their names.
  • Martha And The Muffins changed their name to "M + M" in 1984, partly to reflect a line-up change (shifting from a full band to a core duo of Martha Johnson and Mark Gane plus guests) and partly as Creator Backlash against a whimsical name they felt no longer suited them. A couple of albums later they decided the original name was better after all, and returned to it.
  • Neville Staple of The Specials became Neville Staples for the couple of years he was in The Fun Boy Three, then reverted to the singular Neville Staple when they broke up.
  • Ty England released his third album Highways & Dance Halls under the name Tyler England, but has gone back to Ty.
  • When Big Audio Dynamite unveiled a new lineup in 1991 (featuring only leader Mick Jones from the previous "classic" lineup) with the release of The Globe, they called themselves "Big Audio Dynamite II". On the following record, Higher Power, in 1994, they changed their name again to "Big Audio". On the record following that, F-Punk, they changed back to "Big Audio Dynamite".

    Pro Wrestling 
  • It is very common for wrestlers to change their name when moving from one promotion to another, either because that promotion owns the character (WWE and WCW were the most common) or because the wrestler tired from that persona. Notable name changes within the same promotion would include:
    • Mick Foley started with the Mankind gimmick in the WWF in the Mid-90s. After a few years, he added a persona called Dude Love, later returning to his Indy/WCW/ECW gimmick of Cactus Jack, and eventually interchanging all 3 with just himself as Mick Foley.
    • Owen Hart started, and tragically ended, his career in the WWF as the Blue Blazer.
    • Ric Flair and Arn Anderson were in many versions of the Four Horseman in the NWA and WCW.
    • Stephanie McMahon became Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley when she married Triple-H until returning to her maiden name after the divorce (though something else happened off-screen).
    • The WWF had crowned various wrestlers as "The King" and would wrestle as so until either losing the crown or not winning the next "King of the Ring" tournament. This included Harley Race, Mabel, Owen Hart, "The Macho King" Randy Savage, and Jim Duggan.
  • The Legal Name of WCW under Ted Turner/Turner Television/Time Warner/AOL-Time Warner was always "Universal Wrestling Corporation" (Technically still in existence today under the New AT&T), while the on air name of the company would go from Georgia Championship Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance (Jim Crockett Promotions), World Championship Wrestling, and WCW Inc.
  • When Lance Storm won titles in the later years of WCW, he would rename the titles he won to the "Canadian Heavyweight Championship", "100 Kilos and Under Championship", and "Saskatchewan Hardcore International Title" instead of US, Cruiserweight, and Hardcore titles respectively. Generally this change was reverted back to the old name once he or his stable lost the strap.
  • The WWWF/WWF/WWE Women's Title had been the highest female championship in the promotion from 1956 until 2010 when it was merged with and renamed the Divas Championship. In 2016, during the start of the Women's Revolution, the Title was renamed back to the WWE Women's Championship, as the term "Diva" had fallen out of favor with WWE fans and management.
  • During the early 90's in WCW, Standards and Practices required certain moves or activities to have less aggressive terms. Most famously were announcers would say an "International Object" was illegally used. This practice thankfully ended once Eric Bischhoff become Executive VP.
  • Wrestler's moves and finishes are commonly renamed with a new persona and reverted back once out of said persona.

    Sports 
  • Many Sports Venues have a title sponsor that is added to the name, and once the sponsorship ends the original name reappears if no sponsor is found. Frequent Examples would include Dolphins Stadium after sponsorship ending with Pro Player and Sun-Life (the stadium is now sponsored by and with the name Hard Rock) and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum after McAfee and Overstock/O.co Deals ended. College Bowl Games have a similar sponsorship issue. A sign the Bowl Game is struggling is if the game reverts back to an original name.
  • A special case existed for Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. After the Giants won Super Bowl XXI; the Stadium was renamed Giants Stadium. However, Jets home games referred to the stadium under the original name, The Meadowlands (sometimes as the New Jersey Meadowlands). Signage for Jets games would also remove any mention of "GIANTS" (Except for the side of the stadium) including home games against the Giants. This practice was discontinued when both teams moved to Metlife Stadium in 2010.
  • Similarly the Los Angeles Angels played at "Chavez Ravine" instead of Dodgers Stadium for their home games between 1962-1965.
  • Because of Olympic Sponsorship Rules, host cities have to remove sponsorship names and signage from venues until after the games.
  • The Oakland Raiders, LA Chargers (their first season was in LA before moving to San Diego in 1961), and LA Rams changed the name of the franchise to their new city upon relocation and returned the team to the old cities' names upon franchise return.
  • When the New Orleans Hornets relocated temporarily to Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina, the teams official name was New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
  • For decades, The University of Hawai'i named male teams the Rainbow Warriors and female teams the Rainbow Wahine. In 2000, because of University wanting a shorter name (and absolutely nothing to imply being gay) sport teams were allowed to drop Rainbow from the title. This practice ended in 2013.
  • The 2012-14 seasons the Arena Football League were officially known as The Net 10 Wireless Arena Football League.
  • The LA Angels played most of their first 5 seasons with this name, until renaming themselves the California Angels during the season of 1965 as they were to move to Anaheim. In 1997 the team became the Anaheim Angels, and after winning the world series became "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" for contractual obligations on their lease. Since 2016, without leaving the stadium in Anaheim, they are back to the LA Angels.
  • Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds were known as the Redlegs for a few years in the 1950s during that era's Red Scare.
  • Chad Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco to match his uniform number (85) for a few seasons before legally changing it back.

    Tabletop Games 
  • At the height of the moral panic about Dungeons & Dragons, devils and demons were renamed in the 2nd Edition as baatezu and tanar'ri. This was reversed in the 3rd edition and the names were Retconed as being of particular races of said devils and demons.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Numberjacks episode "Being 3", Three gets turned into a four so the Numbertaker, who was taking threes, wouldn't take her. She starts calling herself Four, but since this series needs a three to work and there's already a character named Four, she got turned back into a three and was called Three again.
  • Parodied as a Running Gag by the last four seasons of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The show became Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1, Aqua Something You Know Whatever, Aqua TV Show Show, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever, all without changing any of the actual content.
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    Real Life 
  • Happens to women who change their last name when they get married, but revert to their maiden name when the marriage ends. Some noteworthy celebrity examples include:
    • Roseanne Barr changed her name to "Roseanne Arnold" after marrying Tom Arnold, then to "Roseanne" when the marriage ended, then eventually went back to "Roseanne Barr".
    • Kaley Cuoco was briefly named "Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting" during her short-lived marriage to Ryan Sweeting.
    • British popstar Cheryl went from being Cheryl Tweedy (her birth name) to Cheryl Cole, to Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, before settling on a mononym.
  • In 2003, angered at France for not agreeing with their decision to go to war in Iraq, the American House of Representatives decided to stop serving French Fries and French Toast and instead referred to them as "Freedom" Fries and "Freedom" Toast. This was then reversed in 2006.
  • Heiress Patty Hearst referred to herself as "Tania" during her time with the Symbionese Liberation Army.
  • The Republican Party was founded in 1854 and Abe Lincoln won the White House in 1860. For his reelection in 1864, the party's name was changed to the National Union Party. Once Abe was assassinated and Andrew Johnson was impeached (but narrowly not-convicted in the Senate), the Party returned back to the Republican Party name everywhere. The major reasons the party adopted this name in the first place was because Johnson was a Democrat and a Southerner from formerly rebellious Tennessee.
  • Many countries, especially those under authoritarian dictatorships, will rename themselves only to revert back a few years later under new leadership. Famous 20th century examples would include Congo (Zaire) and Cambodia (Kampuchea).
    • This can also happen to major cities, like Saint Petersburg (Leningrad), České Velenice (Gmünd-Bahnhof, Czechoslovakia), Santo Domingo (Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic), Bandar-e Anzalī (Bandar-e Pahlavi)

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