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The Namesake

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Suppose you go see a film called The Boat. Movie starts and it takes place as far away from a body of water as is possible. No boats. An hour can pass and you won't see a single boat. But just when you were thinking "maybe it's a Non-Indicative Name", It is revealed that the characters suffered a horrific shipwreck that they are now afraid to even speak of anything related to boats and the ocean. Expect to hear someone in the theater go, "Oh, that's what it was!" This trope is similar to a Title Drop except that a character need not say it aloud.


A namesake is the thing within a story after which the story itself is named. It could be a character, a place, an object, or indeed a metaphor. Often, the namesake is rather obvious (Romeo and Juliet is obviously named that way because there's a character called "Romeo" and another called "Juliet"; The Time Machine obviously includes a machine to travel through time) but sometimes, authors (or film studios) want to use titles that draw attention, and that's when the namesake may not appear until the end of the story, or might indeed only be a metaphor for a certain situation in the story which doesn't become clear until the end. In short, this becomes a trope when the reason why the book/movie/chapter/episode/etc. is called the way it is, isn't revealed to the audience until near the end; regardless of whether the characters knew about it all along or not. If book/movie/chapter/episode is named after a pivotal plot point rather than an actual person/place/thing, then it's a Spoiler Title.


Examples below should be stories where either what the title "promised" wasn't delivered until rather late in the story, or the title seemed non-indicative, and later was revealed to be physically in the story. Please do not put stories whose name was intentionally misleading all along, with the title thing never actually appearing.

Sometimes this is turned on its head when titles that the audience expects to refer to a metaphorical namesake become literal. As an example, if you haven't read Asimov's short story "Nightfall", you'll probably think the title is a metaphor for the situation the characters find themselves in, similar to Stephenie Meyer's use of the title Twilight. Asimov's story, in fact, revolves literally around an imminent sunset, which is an event the characters have never experienced.


May be lampshaded if, once the namesake finally appears, a character asks, "why do they call it that?" usually immediately after the Title Drop.

Compare Justified Title, when an apparently thematic title is revealed to really be a reference to some concrete element within the story, and Epunymous Title when's it's a pun on the main character's name.

Not to be confused with Namesake Gag, the book and film entitled The Namesake, or the webcomic. In literary circles this is called an eponym, a term also used to refer to a Character Title.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Bleach is a doozy one. At first, it doesn't seem to refer to anything in particular and is probably thanks to the author's fondness for Gratuitous English. Kubo eventually admitted that the title is a substitute; he originally wanted to title it "White", but thought that "Bleach" (which means the same thing) is more awesome and decided to use it instead, which begs the question: what does "White" mean? It refers to an artificial Hollow created by Aizen for use to attack the Human World. The Hollow was repelled by Masaki, Ichigo's Quincy mother, but it managed to bite her during the battle, causing her to develop a Hollow mutation that was passed down to her son. In fact, White looks exactly like how Ichigo looks like when he sports his Hollow form, except more feral. This information is only revealed in the final arc, more than a decade after the manga was first published.
  • Charlotte is never mentioned by any of the characters until episode 11, when it becomes the title of the episode. It's revealed in the episode that "Charlotte" is the name of a long-orbit comet which approaches Earth in 75-year cycles. When it does, it showers the planet in strange particles, and these particles are the source of the mysterious abilities prevalent throughout the series.
  • Comic Girls does this as the title of Kaos' first approved manuscript in Episode 11.
  • Gundam series tend to be named for the protagonist's Humongous Mecha, but there are a few noteworthy exceptions. The most prominent is Gundam SEED, which is named for an in-universe theory about an innate factor that lets them advance to the next stage of evolution. Naturally, it's possessed by the four central characters (and the protagonist of the sequel).
    • Frequently, the title refers to the protagonist's Mid-Season Upgrade rather than their original mobile suit; the Zeta Gundam, 00 Gundam, and God Gundam note  come to mind.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: The title refers to the final form of Gurren Lagann, which doesn't appear until the last episode.
  • The meaning behind Your Lie in April is revealed in the final episode of the anime/final chapter of the manga. Kaori lied about liking Watari and used their relationship to get closer to his best friend: Kousei, the guy she truly loved all along. When was that lie being told? Spring, in April.
  • In episode 4 of Yuri!!! on Ice, Yuuri Katsuki decides that "Yuri on Ice" will be the name of the piece of music he'll be skating to for the upcoming Grand Prix, which is revealed after he writes the name of the piece on the CD. The piece itself is meant to embody Yuuri's career as a skater, which is especially important since this will be his last season.

     Comic Books  
  • DC Comics' 52 at first seems like a reference to its Real Time format a la 24 (each issue covering the span of a week and published weekly for one year), though a number of gratuitous 52s were thrown around. Near the end it's revealed that it refers to fifty-two parallel universes - after being destroyed in the Crisis on Infinite Earths twenty years ago, The Multiverse has returned.
  • The English title for the Tintin adventure Tintin: The Red Sea Sharks references an element which only shows up at the end of the story. In most other languages, this album is known as "Coke on Board", with "coke" or some variant being a code word for human cargo being shipped to slavery.

     Fan Fiction 
  • The subtitle for I.D. - That Indestructible Something (visible on the cover image and shown in the individual chapters) is Injector Doe. This looks like a pair of random words, until it's revealed that it refers to a random person (a "John Doe") accidentally modifying the virtual simulation that is our reality (i.e. "injecting code") with sheer force of will.
  • Stars Above: The title initially refers to The Prophecy given before the events of the story, relating to The End of the World as We Know It: "All will come to ruin, and the stars above will fall." By the final chapter, the five main characters know of the prophecy, and Kagami decides to Screw Destiny and uses Stars Above as the name of their Magical Girl team. Her rewording of the latter half kicks off the final battle: "The Stars Above will rise!"

    Films — Animated 
  • 101 Dalmatians repeatedly counts the dalmatian puppies in the film, reinforcing throughout it that there aren't 101 of them. It isn't until the end that Roger proclaims, "That's 84, and 15 plus two is a hundred and one!"
  • One might wonder why a film without a single character named Amy is called Chasing Amy until almost the very end, when Silent Bob finally refers to her.
  • Disney's The Princess and the Frog: Tiana, the film's heroine, only eventually becomes a princess by marriage, and the frog is actually a prince.
  • Ratatouille is this, especially to those who are unfamiliar with French cuisine. Most audiences can be forgiven for thinking that the title alludes to the film's main protagonist, who is a rat, not helped with the film's pronunciation guide that lists it as "rat-a-too-ee". It actually refers to a real French dish, albeit a low-class one, and it's suggested and prepared only at the climax of the film to satisfy the Caustic Critic that the protagonists are facing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Grand Canyon: About 99% of the movie takes place in and around Los Angeles, which is several hours of driving and nearly 400 miles away from the Grand Canyon. While the Grand Canyon is title dropped a few times in different contexts ("Ever been to the Grand Canyon?", "A hole as big as the Grand Canyon"), it isn't until the very final moments of the film that the main characters actually visit it.
  • The Peter Sellers/Ringo Starr vehicle The Magic Christian is about the title's cruise ship which (a) doesn't appear till the third act, and (b) turns out to be a sham.
  • The Phantom Menace has an interesting title, especially compared to the self-evident titles of the other Star Wars movies. Namely, it raises the question, who is the "phantom menace"? Darth Maul, as the advertising campaign would suggest? Senator Palpatine, the mastermind behind it all who hides behind a respectable front? The Sith in general, who are supposed to be extinct? Or perhaps Anakin, who at this point is only a "phantom" of the "menace" he will one day become? (according to Word of God, it's the second; helps Darth Sidious only appears once not in hologram form, making him mostly sort of a Virtual Ghost)
  • Serendipity: The title refers to the restaurant that is the site of Jonathan and Sarah's first date as well as the themes of the movie (Fate and Destiny).
  • The title of Skyfall initially just seems to have been chosen because it sounds cool, with the only obvious meaning coming from James Bond surviving a seemingly fatal fall from a bridge in the first scene. Then, in the last third of the movie, we find out that it's the name of Bond's family estate in Scotland.
  • A Time for Drunken Horses is not a metaphor; you will see intoxicated equines.
  • In the original version of The Wicker Man (1973), the man of wicker in the title isn't shown or otherwise mentioned until the very end of the movie.
  • Zardoz: The film's eponymous God turns out to be The Wonderful WiZard of Oz.

  • The book of The Hundred and One Dalmatians has this even more than the movie, because there aren't 101 dalmatians for most of the book: there are Pongo and Missus, the original 15 puppies, the puppies' foster-mother Perdita, plus the additional 82 puppies Cruella had, giving a total of 100 dalmatians. The narrator actually mentions this problem in the second to last chapter, promising that the 101st dalmatian will be along soon.
  • "The Anglers Of Arz", by Roger Dee, features octopuses that use humanlike land creatures as bait to capture flying lizards for sport.
  • Isaac Asimov:
  • The Baby-Sitters Club: The title club is sometimes the only thing its members have in common.
  • "The Bees From Borneo", by Will H Gray, refers to the breed of bees created by Silas Donaghy with red tufts on their tails.
  • "The Botticelli Horror", by Lloyd Biggle Jr, refers to the snail capable of mimicking anything shown to it, and often uses the shape of a woman in a shell, much like Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.
  • Bridge to Terabithia: The title "bridge" finally appears when Jesse builds it to replace the rope that he and Leslie used, the breaking of which resulted in Leslie's Death by Newbery Medal.
  • A Brother's Price: The title seems metaphorical, after all, the "price" paid for something often is. However, it turns out that it is meant quite literal, it's the price to be paid to a man's sisters when he marries. It also appears physically, in all its glory of glittering gold coins.
  • Although Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain largely averts this, the final book, The High King, plays it fairly straight. It's not until the last three pages that it becomes revealed that the title refers to Taran, the series protagonist, being proclaimed High King of Prydain.
  • "The Day Is Done", by Lester del Rey, is about the last Neanderthal Man. Hwoogh is the Last of His Kind, and only two of the Cro-Magnon people even care as the day of Neanderthal Man is done.
  • "Flight Over XP-637", by Craig Sayre, refers to an accident that occurs to several reptilian aliens that are on Earth in disguise as ducks.
  • The title of "The Game Of Rat And Dragon", by Cordwainer Smith, refers to a battle that humanity is fighting against an unknown enemy. Humans see this enemy as dragons, fierce and dangerous, capable of tearing apart a telepathic mind. Partners (telepathic descendants of cats) see this enemy as rats, nasty monsters that they can beat and kill.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Chapter eight is entitled Flight of the Fat Lady. This doesn't actually happen until the second-last page of the chapter. There's also a chapter titled "The Servant of Lord Voldemort". When you start the chapter, you think the title simply refers to Sirius Black. By the time you've finished the chapter, it's become apparent that the eponymous servant is Peter Pettigrew.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish doesn't reveal its namesake until chapter 23. Although those who read the first book know that it's the dolphins' last message to humankind, making the title itself a foreshadowing of their hand in Earth's restoration.
  • "Into The Darkness" plays with the concept of namesake, because Darkness is the main character, but the meaning of the title isn't revealed until the very end of the story, when Darkness describes dying as a journey into darkness.
  • In "Kid Cardula", by Jack Ritchie, the titular Kid is a vampire trying to make some quick money as a boxer.
  • A Long Way Down: A Nick Hornby Novel about four people planning to jump off a building, so it seems clear what the title means. Except that a line near the end twists what you think The Namesake is; they ask whether they should jump, which would be the short way, or take "the long way down", that is, taking the stairs back down and moving on with life, which is literally "the long way".
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: The second tower is revealed quite late in the book. Of course, which two towers is open to interpretation. While Tolkien stated in a letter to his publisher they were Orthanc and Barad-dûr, almost any combination of Orthanc with Barad-dûr, Minas Tirith, and Minas Morgul makes sense. (Orthanc is inevitable, as half the book consists of fighting Saruman.) On the other hand, there's the inside blurb of the hardcover...
  • "The Man From P.I.G.", by Harry Harrison, is a pig farmer from Porcine Interstellar Guard.
  • Anne McCaffrey's "The Smallest Dragonboy": The titular character is Keevan, and also the youngest of the Impression Candidates.
  • In The Name of the Rose, it's not made clear what the title refers to until the last page.
  • The Brandon Sanderson novel Warbreaker's namesake is revealed on the last page.
  • The books in the second Warrior Cats arc, The New Prophecy are all named after times. In the first book, the chosen cats are told to go to the place where "the sun drowns" to "listen to what midnight tells them". At the end of the book, they go into a cave to take shelter and get attacked by a badger. But the badger is actually named Midnight and she can talk cat. She then tells them that their forest will be destroyed and that they must find a new home.

     Live Action TV  

  • Crossed, Double-Crossed is a book shown in an episode of the TV series Charmed. Though the characters in the book generally mistrust each other, there isn't an actual betrayal until the end; when the main characters find themselves surrounded by bad guys and the book's narrator reveals The Namesake by saying, "The couple knew they'd been double-crossed and there was no way out."
  • Although Doctor Who is asked by many characters throughout the series, it has now become the Final Question, and must never be asked during a specified Cannot Tell a Lie scenario, or else "Silence Will Fall" and the Doctor will be killed to prevent an ambiguously apocalyptic outcome.
    • The title of the episode The Name of the Doctor was assumed to be taken literally; its real meaning is revealed at the end: The Doctor's participation in The Time War was considered to be so awful that he did not refer to himself as The Doctor during it; therefore, it was not in the name of The Doctor.
  • The eponymous event in The Event is not revealed until the final episode. Because the series is Cut Short, it only really gets mentioned in passing and we never see it transpire.
  • Several Lost episodes do this, such as "The Substitute," "Some Like it Hoth," and "Jughead." The flashbacks in "Not in Portland" depict Juliet being recruited for a job in Portland. At the very end, we learn this is actually how she was recruited by the Others. Richard tells her, "Well, actually, we're not quite in Portland."

  • With the exception of Dust (named, according to Travis in the setup episode, for the phrase "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" to refer to the bleak and dark nature of the system he's using), the titles of The Adventure Zone arcs don't become apparent until at least the end of the first arc. Balance refers to the Bureau of Balance, which isn't named or even introduced until the first (and a halfth) arc, Moonlighting. Amnesty refers to the Amnesty lodge, the lodge out of which the Pine Guard is run, which doesn't become clear until an episode or two in. And Commitment refers to the commitment to helping King Richard lead a peaceful coup against the US government, which isn't introduced until the final episode of the arc.

     Video Games  

  • Kingdom Hearts is named for a mysterious location that's most accurately described as "The Heart (Core) of all worlds (Kingdoms)." though in the first installment it isn't even discussed until about 85% of the way in. Its sequel reveals it halfway in and the prequel talks about it just before the last area.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep might refer to two different things, the literal birth of Vanitas or the figurative birth of Sora as a Keyblade Wielder, both of which happen when Ventus, one of the three protagonists, is asleep. Either way, both are revealed/happen when the game is nearing completion.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening eventually reveals that the eponymous "awakening" is Link having to wake up the Wind Fish in order to escape Koholint Island, which only exists in the Wind Fish's dream.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess plays with the trope. An early Title Drop by Midna makes it appear that the second part of the title refers to Zelda herself, as the princess of a kingdom flooded with twilight. Only when the game is at least half finished is it revealed that it's actually Midna who is the Twilight Princess, as the rightful heir to the invading twilight realm's ruling family.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild initially seems to have that subtitle only as a poetic reference to the immensity of the Wide Open Sandbox version of the game's After the End Hyrule, as mentioned by Eiji Aonuma and Bill Trinen in interviews. Near the end, however, the Divine Beasts, the Animal Mecha freed by Link throughout the game, all do a combined Breath Weapon attack on Calamity Ganon, providing a more literal portrayal of the subtitle.
  • In World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, the Mists are in fact the Sha of Pride.
  • The original Golden Sun duology for the Game Boy Advance at first appears to have little to do with the actual title. That is, until the very end of The Lost Age, where it's revealed that the Golden Sun is a mass of energy that rises above Mount Aleph when the four elemental lighthouses are lit and can bestow godlike power on anyone who bathes in its light.
  • The Dragon Age games play with this a little. They never actually talk about the eponymous Dragon Age, but codex entries in the game and supplemental material elsewhere clarify that it's how the game world marks time. Every hundred years is an age, and each new age is given a name inspired by significant events near the end of the previous one. Toward the end of the previous age, dragons began appearing in the world after they had long been thought extinct... so the games are all taking place during what has been named the Dragon Age.
  • For The Elder Scrolls series, the eponymous Elder Scrolls don't actually appear in-game until the fourth game in the series, Oblivion, and aren't directly involved with the main quest of a game until the fifth, Skyrim. They are mentioned earlier, often as part of the impetus for the main quest, but are not actually seen. Fun fact: according to former series developer Ted Peterson, the name The Elder Scrolls was chosen as the surtitle to Arena simply because "it sounded cool", and it wasn't determined until later in development what an "Elder Scroll" actually was in-universe.
  • In the Ace Attorney series, most case titles include a term relevant to that case, with the "Turnabout" added in. Most of the Turnabouts actually make sense instantly, but one case in particular, "Farewell, My Turnabout", would only be relevant at the end, in both the good and bad endings. In the good ending, Phoenix has to find his client guilty, and thus end his winning streak in the process. In the bad ending, Phoenix shames himself for letting the guilty party get away (even if it means his sidekick would be spared) and disappears without a trace, feeling that he has disappointed his friends.

     Web Comics  

  • Panthera: The reason for the title isn't revealed until the 19th strip, which, due to the comic being weekly and having missed an update, meant that it was revealed after 6 months! Once it was, the author was quite verbal in pointing it out.
  • Something*Positive: The title never actually appears in the strip anywhere. One of creator Randy Milholland's friends urged him to do "something positive" with his life, and the comic was the end result.

     Western Animation  
  • The Archer episode "Vision Quest" initially seems to have a Non-Indicative Name, since it's a Bottle Episode where the main characters are trapped in an elevator. Until the very end, anyway, where Malory reveals that she was planning on having them all watch the film Vision Quest.
  • The Hollow: "The Hollow" is the title of both the video game the kids are playing and the game show the characters are playing said game on.

Alternative Title(s): Eponym, Namesake, Thats What It Was


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