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The Noun Who Verbed

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A simple way to make a title: by taking an animal or person central to the story and saying they do something that is also central.

Often The Girl Who... or The Boy Who.... A variation for inanimate objects is The Noun That Verbed. The verb is usually in past tense and sometimes in present tense but rarely in future tense. Occasionally a pronoun is used instead of a noun.

This can sometimes be used In-Universe, usually to name a character. In this case, the verb is almost always in present tense, and a pronoun is used as often as a noun. Some trope names (see below in Examples) follow this pattern making this trope Truth in Television.

Older Than Feudalism with the fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

This method of naming usually causes the works to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin; though sometimes it's a case of It Makes Sense in Context. Rarely the names created are so strange that it Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.

Can be a Spoiler Title. In-Universe examples can overlap with Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" and/or The Trope without a Title.

Compare Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom, In Which a Trope Is Described, Noun Verber, Adjective Noun Fred, Character Name and the Noun Phrase. Compare Person with the Clothing for In-Universe examples.


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    Trope Names That Follow This Convention 

    Titles That Are Examples of This Trope 
Anime & Manga




Live-Action Television


  • The Man Who Sold the World and its Title Track by David Bowie. The song was later covered by Nirvana.
  • The Man Who Invented Himself by Robyn Hitchcock
  • The Man Who Dies Every Day by Ultravox (John Foxx era)
  • The Man Who Would Not Die, an album by Blaze Bailey, a former Iron Maiden vocalist.
  • The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton.
  • The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnati by Rose & the Arrangement.
  • Partial example in The Man Who, the album by Travis, said to be named for The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (see Literature)


  • Matilda, Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death
  • Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably


Video Games

Western Animation

    Examples That Exist In-Universe 
Comic Books


  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The Knights Who Say "Ni" use the word as their greatest weapon. They later change their name to something like The Knights Who Say "Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptangya Zoooooooom Boing Ni", however, King Arthur, who can't pronounce this, proceeds to call them Knights Who ’Til Recently Said "Ni". It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.


  • The Dresden Files feature at different times the Outsiders known as "He Who Walks Behind" and "He Who Walks Before". It also turns out that the entity Nemesis is really named "He Who Walks Beside".
  • Harry Potter: Harry is often called The Boy Who Lived as he was the only one to ever survive either the Killing Curse or Voldemort.
  • Inheritance. One of the titles of the king of the werecats, Grimrr Halfpaw, is He Who Walks Alone. Eragon notes that it's an odd title but no explanation is given other than Saphira theorising that it's a case of Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Valar are rarely called that by name in The Lord of the Rings (in contrast to The Silmarillion where they were often referred to by either that or their individual names), instead being known as Those Who Dwell Across the Sea.
  • The Ship Who Sang. Helva is known as The Ship Who Sings due to her reputation as a Brainship with a rare talent for it. Doubles as a Title Drop.
  • The Prince Who Dreams in the Void is mentioned in passing in Dissolution.

Live-Action Television

  • Doctor Who. At different points the Eleventh Doctor calls Rory and Amy The Boy Who Waited and The Girl Who Waited respectively due to Amy having to wait twelve years for the Doctor to come back for her and Rory having to wait two thousand years as a Roman centurion for Amy. As noted above, The Girl Who Waited becomes the title of an episode.
  • NCIS: Los Angeles: A diplomat and a dictator are desperately searching for The Girl Who Lived, the possibly mythical survivor of a massacre.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Happens a lot with stories the characters tell:
      • "The King Who Couldn't See So Well"
      • "The King Who Wasted Paper"
      • "The King Who Ate Only Chicken"
    • The James Bond parody is called "The Spy Who Loved Cookies".

Newspaper Comics

  • In Garfield, Jon mentions a movie called The Man Who Stubbed His Toe. Garfield says there's a lot of adult language in it.
  • The Phantom is sometimes called The Ghost Who Walks.
Video Games
  • One intro with Kabal in Mortal Kombat 11 has Spawn being mistaken by the former as "some kind of Japanese luchador", before the Hellspawn corrects the mercenary by calling himself "The Ghost That Goes 'Bang!' In The Night".


  • Parodied in Sluggy Freelance, in the Torg Potter parodies. In order to sound more mysteeerious, Homnigrits is known as The man who goes where few fear to tread. Places like the mall. Not many people fear to go there.

Alternative Title(s): The Noun That Verbed