Follow TV Tropes


Title Confusion

Go To

"You're going to get diagnosed by someone who says her favorite superhero is X-Man?"
Evil Abed on Britta

Casual viewers just can't be bothered to pay the kind of attention it takes to interpret the meaning of a show's title, even if this effort is small. This can lead to some unusual and mistaken notions about key facets of the show.

Subtrope of "Common Knowledge". Often contributes to instances of Cowboy BeBop at His Computer, including the trope's namesake incident. For confusion regarding our own Word Salad Titles, see I Thought It Meant.


Specific Sub Tropes include:

    open/close all folders 

Examples where the title itself is mistaken for something else:

    Anime and Manga 
  • A common misconception of entry-level Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch fans is that the abbreviation is "Mermaid Melody". In fact, "Pichi Pichi Pitch", and sometimes "Pichi" or "P3", is the shortened title on every piece of merchandise, as well as the biggest part of the logo. Because this isn't common in other series (imagine calling Sailor Moon "Pretty Guardian" or Angelic Layer "Kidou Tenshi"), it's assumed that people just automatically think this because the first half of the title is the English part. The English and German versions of the manga have, in retaliation, moved "Mermaid Melody" to tiny font after the "Pichi Pichi Pitch".
    • However, the French and Italian versions have embraced the Title Confusion, making "Mermaid Melody" bigger than "Pichi Pichi Pitch" (or, in the Italian version, "Principesse Sirene") on the logo rather than the other way around. This may be an example of a Market-Based Title, as Gratuitous English is more common in Europe than Gratuitous Japanese is, and if you must have both in the title, it would make more sense to emphasize the one that would get more attention instead of stay true to the source.
  • Robotech: The different segments of the show are often referred to as Robotech: The Macross Saga, Robotech: Masters (sometimes Robotech: Southern Cross), and Robotech: The New Generation. These title expansions actually come from the comic books published by Comico and don't appear in the animated series itself. In newer DVD releases, such as Robotech Remastered, they use newly created opening credit sequences for each segment. The original opening was a pastiche of scenes from all three constituent shows and was used throughout the entire series.
  • The Space Battleship Yamato series are frequently known as Quest for Iscandar, Comet Empire, and Bolar Wars. These subtitles were never used during the course of the series, only in home video releases starting with VHS in the 1990s. In Japan, they were simply known as Space Battleship Yamato I, II, and III.
  • Urusei Yatsura is often called Lum.
    • That's because the English manga used the title "Lum" with "Urusei Yatsura" written in small print under it. This was probably a good decision, since English speakers can pronounce "Lum" (especially back then before the modern manga boom).
    • When the show was dubbed in some European countries, it was actually re-titled Lamu (Lum's name in the dub, taken from the Japanese pronunciation / spelling of "Lum", which is ラム).
      • There was a bad British dub of the early episodes (cropped into widescreen) called Lum the Invader Girl.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • The film The Bridge on the River Kwai is based on the book Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai, translated into English as The Bridge Over The River Kwai. Many people refer to the film by the English title of the book.
  • Cobra is often called "Stallone Cobra", due to Sylvester Stallone's last name alone appearing on the movie poster just above the title in an identical font.
  • The obscure 1970s movie Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is often referred to as Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People due to Patton Oswalt's infamous rant about the movie where he consistently and incorrectly refers to the movie by that title.
  • Jason X is often misnamed "Jason 10", probably because it is the 10th film in the Friday the 13th series and X is the Roman numeral for 10.
  • Hero and the Terror is sometimes assumed to be titled The Hero and the Terror. Chuck Norris' character doesn't deserve a definite article, apparently.
  • The X-Files: Fight the Future was originally marketed under just the title "The X-Files"; the phrase "Fight the Future" was just its tagline. Confusing these two is rather like saying that every other episode of the show the movie was based on was called "The Truth is Out There". The second movie, however, is titled The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
    • See the poster; by where "Fight the Future" is placed in relation to the title, it could easily be mistaken for a subtitle. Half the time, I Want To Believe is written in the same position when it comes to the 2008 movie, and "Fight the Future" appears on the spine of the DVD case, so it looks like the writers have surrendered.
  • A minor example, but Interview with the Vampire is often called "Interview With A Vampire", probably because the th sounds in "with" and "the" blend together, and also because The vampire seems to imply there's only one vampire.
  • We're the Millers is sometimes mis-titled "Meet" The Millers", possibly due to confusion with Meet the Parents, or possibly because they just think the aliteration sounds better.

  • Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass are really Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. It doesn't help that the two books are sometimes published in a single volume called Alice in Wonderland.
  • More a misspelling than a wrong title but a lot of people misspell The Berenstain Bears as the "Berenstein Bears". This error is so common it even spawned an urban legend that it was originally spelled Berenstein but changed to sound less Jewish.
  • The Flemish playwright Hugo Claus originally titled his first novel The Duck Hunt, then decided to change it to The Metsiers (title in Dutch: De Metsiers), the name of the family on which the plot focuses. The novel ends on a duck hunt during which the mentally ill son of the Metsiers family gets shot in the face and dies, but Claus wanted the title to put the whole emphasis on the title characters (some scholars insist that this is such a deliberate and important choice). Then the novel was translated into French, English, etc. with the title The Duck Hunt.
  • The Analects of Confucius are mistitled in English. The actual title, Lún Yǔ, means "discussion over Confucius' words" — "analects" are a collection of excerpts from a literary work, an inaccurate description for the book in question.
  • Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species is sometimes misnamed Origin of the Species.
  • Umberto Eco's highly acclaimed medieval detective novel The Name of the Rose (and its movie adaptation alike) is quite often mistitled In the Name of the Rose, which sounds more like some random swashbuckling romance.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is often called The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
  • The TV Series Game of Thrones has become so popular that newer readers or non-readers who like the show have begun referring to them as the "Game of Thrones books", though the novel series is actually titled "A Song of Ice and Fire" and the first novel only is called "A Game of Thrones". However, one is much quicker and less awkward to say.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray is often misnamed "The Portrait Of Dorian Gray", likely because people think that sounds better.
  • The Diary of a Young Girl is often called "The Diary of Anne Frank". While this is an accurate description, as it is her diary, it's still not correct.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The British television spy series starring Patrick McGoohan was titled Danger Man in the United Kingdom, Secret Agent everywhere else, but the chorus of the American theme song by Johnny Rivers is "Secret Agent Man."
  • A TV adaptation of Journey to the West is titled Monkey but often called "Monkey Magic!" after the memorable chorus to the theme song.
  • You'll Never Get Rich was a 1960's sitcom starring Phil Silvers as that lovable rogue Sergeant Ernie Bilko. Eventually the show changed its name to The Phil Silvers Show but in conversation, nearly everyone called it Sgt. Bilko. The film adaptation even called itself that to avoid this trope.
  • It's stunning how often people refer to David Letterman's CBS show as Late Night with David Letterman, the title of his old NBC show which went off the air in 1993. The CBS show is called Late Show with David Letterman, and was circa 1993 seen as more of a continuation of Late Night than the actual continuation of Late Night with unknown comedy writer Conan O'Brien at the helm, which Jimmy Fallon became the host of after Conan stopped doing so. But it's been 15 years, people! Learn the name, already! Especially since Late Night still exists as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and is completely separate from Late Show.
  • The Playhouse Disney / Disney Junior live-action interstitial series Choo Choo Soul often gets called All Aboard The Choo Choo Train, because those words are repeated in the theme song.
  • A minor example, but Sex and the City is often misnamed "Sex IN the city". Understandable, as the two sound almost identical when spoken quickly

  • The song "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine is sometimes mistakenly called "Killing in the Name Of" Since that is what the actual chorus says.
  • The Beatles' ninth album (dubbed "The White Album") is actually titled The Beatles. Because of the design, and that its release was 8 years into their fame, most people seeing the cover assume it has no printed title.
  • Ditto for Metallica and their self-titled album, a.k.a. "The Black Album".
  • Arlo Guthrie's magnum opus song is called "Alice's Restaurant Massacree", found on the album named Alice's Restaurant. Furthering the confusion is that during "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" Guthrie explicitly says that "Alice's Restaurant" is the name of the song, even though it isn't.
  • Collective Soul has two self-titled albums and neither was their debut. Their second album and their eighth have no title, but while the second is usually called the "self-titled album", the eighth is often referred to as "Rabbit" due to the album cover being a picture of a large rabbit statuette.
  • One of the songs from Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, "Stickerbush Symphony"note , is frequently misspelled as "Stickerbrush Symphony".
  • blink-182's fifth album is either self-titled or untitled, depending on who you ask.
  • The New Order songs "Cries and Whispers" and "Mesh" are notorious for how frequently they get mixed up. This can be traced back to the 1982 single release of "Everything's Gone Green", for which "Cries and Whispers" & "Mesh" were the B-sides. On the back of the record sleeve, "Mesh" is listed as the first B-side, followed by "Cries and Whispers"; however, it's the opposite on the actual record, something the disc label accurately reflects (it's possible that "Mesh" was originally intended to be the first of the two B-sides before being moved to the second at the last minute, hence the discrepancy). Because of this, fans, critics, casual listeners, and even New Order's own compilations (most notably 1987's Substance) tend to swap the titles of "Cries and Whispers" and "Mesh". For reference, this is "Cries and Whispers", and this is "Mesh".

    Video Games 
  • Wing Commander Prophecy is sometimes referred to by fans as "Wing Commander 5", as the fifth "main line" WC, even though it's never been used outside the fandom using it as a working title, when almost nothing of the game was yet known to anyone not involved with production of the game.
  • Mega Man & Bass fans used to stubbornly refer to it as Mega Man 9, until the real Mega Man 9 was announced.
  • To quote from The Other Wiki, the video game Granada "is sometimes mistakenly referred to as 'XGranadaX' or 'Granada X' because of ambiguity in the design of the logo."
  • In some Japanese video games from the 1980s, the game's production team is so prominently credited beneath the title that the two are often mistakenly combined. This has resulted in references to "Final Zone Wolf" or "Zanac A.I."
  • The 1990 Dirty Harry video game on the NES is often incorrectly called Dirty Harry: The War Against Drugs for whatever reason, but neither the game itself or the box cover contain this subtitle.
  • When Mega Man Maker, a Mega Man Fan Game inspired by Super Mario Maker, was first released, it was called Mega Maker. However, here were sources that referred to it as Mega Man Maker, despite the word "Man" missing from the title. Ironically, the Version 1.1 update (released on October 27, 2017) did officially add the word "Man" to the title because the Mega Maker title was the trademarked name of a company.
  • Similar to the "X-Files" example listed above, the full title for the game Strife is "Strife: Quest For The Sigil". However, the cover Just says "Strife" and below that "Trust no one". "Trust no one" was meant as a tagline, but, was (and still is) often mistaken for a subtitle (that the real subtitle (Quest For The Sigil) only appeared in the manual in the original release didn't help). Likely as a Mythology Gag the Steam remastered Veterans Edition lets you pick between "trust no one" (the demo, which is labeled as such) and "Quest For The Sigil" which is the full version, in much the same way old First-Person Shooters let you pick which episode to start with.

  • The webcomic Dinosaur Comics is still occasionally referred to as Daily Dinosaur Comics. This is where "Daily" came from. Note the top of the page "Welcome to", then immediately on the next line "daily dinosaur comics". Since "" isn't a suitable title for the comic, the descriptive text was likely mistaken for the title back in the day, and it stuck.

    Western Animation 
  • There is no such character as "Carmen San Diego". The Edutainment Game series instead centers on Carmen Sandiego, whose surname is spelled as one word for whatever reason.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines is popularly known as Stop That Pigeon or Stop the Pigeon because of its theme song. As a matter of fact, Stop That Pigeon was the series' working title, and instead of Dick Dastardly, a German baron was intended as the squadron leader.
  • Another minor example: Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?, a Dr. Seuss television special about a boy and a piano that takes him to any part of the world, is misremembered as Pontoffel Pock, Where the Heck Are You? due to the refrain of the title song. The only time a Title Drop without "the Heck" is used is when Pontoffel escapes and Neefa Feefa is left behind, yelling the title.
    • On DVD, the special is instead called Pontoffel Pock and His Magic Piano.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle go through this. When the show debuted on ABC in 1959, its original title was Rocky and His Friends, though in-universe, it was always simply referred to as, "The Rocky Show" (though it is referred to as Rocky and His Friends in "Rue Britannia"). Later, when it was moved to NBC in 1961, the network insisted on changing the title, and it became The Bullwinkle Show, and has remained as such in most syndication markets. When reruns began airing on both Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network in The '90s, each of the networks renamed the show themselves, with Nick titling it Bullwinkle's Moose-O-Rama, and CN titling it The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. Are you confused yet? Because there's still even more! When the series began seeing DVD releases in 2003, the show was rebranded again, under a new, "Collective" title: The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends. Regardless of what the title is on screen, or on product, most fans simply refer to the show as a whole as "Rocky and Bullwinkle".
    • It gets even more confusing. The inter-title for the main segments is shown on-screen as "The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky" (note that Bullwinkle gets top billing). The series as a whole was never referred to as "Rocky and Bullwinkle" during its original run.
    • Additionally, many fans refer to the "Peabody's Improbable History" segments as "Mr. Peabody".
  • In Steven Universe, there's an episode whose proper title is "So Many Birthdays". It almost universally gets referred to by fans as "Too Many Birthdays".
  • A minor example: The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries were often thought of as just Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, which is understandable given that the title appears five times in the theme tune without the "The"; the "The" only appears in the title card.
  • In an episode of Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Dastardly captures a bunch of HB characters, and starts torturing them with clips from the show. Snooper remarks "Oh no! Not Stop The Pigeon-type cartoons!". Bonus points for the audio being the "Stop The Pigeon" portion of the theme song looped over and over and the "clip" being Dastardly in a plane chasing the pigeon also looping over and over.


Examples where the meaning of the title is missed:

  • In a double case, Rurouni Kenshin had a period where American viewers, upon hearing the title, would ask "Which one is Roan?" This is a result of people confusing "rurouni", meaning "wandering swordsman", with "Ronin".
  • Star Blazers: The crew of the Argo (Yamato) is never called the Star Blazers. They are always called the Star Force. However, in some of the episode recap blurbs, the narrator does say "a team of star blazers called the Star Force..." but it was never used by the characters in the actual stories.
  • The "cheeky angel" in Tenshi Na Konamaiki is Megumi, not the mischievous spirit who transformed Megumi into a girl.
  • The toyline for the Voltron cartoon called Vehicle Voltron Voltron I and Lion Voltron Voltron III. The never intended to be dubbed Albegas was released as Voltron II. Since Lion Voltron was clearly more popular than Vehicle Voltron, the question was why it took third place. Not widely known is the fact that Dairugger XV (Vehicle Voltron a.k.a. Voltron of the Near Universe) was always intended to be the flagship series and Golion (Lion Voltron aka Voltron of the Far Universe) was actually a late replacement for the planned but ultimately unavailable Daltanius. World Events Productions simply overestimated how popular Dairugger would be in comparison to Golion. But the toy packaging was already done. Curiously enough, Lion Voltron still aired first in all regions so it must have been determined quite early.

    Comic Strips 
  • After Knights of the Dinner Table developed a continuing plotline, stories that were not set in that plotline were labelled "Retro KoDT", meaning that they were set in an earlier time. Some fans thought that the Retro KoDT stories were reprints (despite a clear "The Never-Before-Seen Adventures" header) and complained. Eventually, the title was changed to "Lost Tales of the Knights of the Dinner Table".

  • The play The Madness of George III was adapted into film as The Madness of King George. Supposedly, this was because the US audience would otherwise assume it was third in a series, and, not having seen the first two, wouldn't bother to see it. The director and the actor playing the king, however, deny that this is the case.
  • The Pink Panther, in the movie, refers not to Inspector Clouseau nor his arch-enemy Sir Charles Lytton, but to the diamond Lytton stole. The "Pink Panther" cartoon character only appears in the beginning and end wraparounds, and is not an integral or interactive figure in the content of the film. It doesn't help that most of the Clouseau-focused sequels keep "Pink Panther" in the title.
  • When The Shawshank Redemption was released, one of the criticisms was that Andy, who was innocent and pure, didn't need to be redeemed. In fact it's Red, the true protagonist of the movie, who is redeemed.
  • Zombieland refers not to the Pacific Playland amusement park where the characters are headed, but rather to the zombie-infested world (or possibly just the United States) where they all live.

  • Non-fiction example: The biologist Richard Dawkins has often remarked about how many of his critics do not seem to have read his books past the title page. The Selfish Gene in particular is a magnet for this, with people assuming that he claims that people should behave in a selfish manner, that human selfishness has some kind of genetic cause, or even that genes have emotional states comparable to selfishness in humans. There's actually been quite a bit of philosophical argument about whether or not the book itself bears this out. For clarity: the book isn't about a gene for selfishness — rather, it argues that genes are "selfish", in that they ultimately serve only their own reproduction.
  • Leonard Nimoy's 1977 book I Am Not Spock. The book was an autobiography which dealt with the differences between Nimoy and his famous Star Trek character. Of course, everyone read the title and assumed that he hated playing Spock. Years later, a Paramount executive, believing this, almost refused to let Nimoy direct Star Trek III! Nimoy later published a book titled I Am Spock.
  • The title 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is often assumed to mean the depth at which the Nautilus travels, which is problematic since this is greater than the diameter of the Earth. In fact, the name refers to the horizontal distance traveled underwater, coming close to twice around the world.
  • Dead Souls is not about souls in the spiritual sense. The word "soul" meant "person" in Imperial Russian statistics, particularly concerning peasant population. The eponymous dead souls are serfs who died before the latest update of the state records, making them factually dead but legally alive.
  • The popularity of actress Zooey Deschanel almost certainly caused some to think that the original Zooey (from J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey) must be female. He's not. Granted, the fact that his name is Zooey is enough to make people assume he's a girl. Zooey (or Zoey or Zoe) is almost exclusively a girls' name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A promotional press conference early in its run revealed that at least one reporter thought that the 3rd Rock from the Sun was where its aliens were from, rather than where they were visiting... likewise the continuity announcers on Sky1, where the series premiered in the United Kingdom.
  • Many people get confused as to what the hell the title of 30 Rock is supposed to mean. Try watching the Title Sequence carefully and you'll eventually get it. It comes from the street address of NBC's headquarters in New York City, 30 Rockefeller Center, where the show is set.
  • Many non-viewers erroneously assume that Angel had a female main character, since Angel is more commonly a feminine name; in fact the title character is male. Dark Angel may have added to the confusion. And there's also a female character named Fred...
  • On first hearing, Firefly sounds like the name of the characters' ship. In actuality, Firefly is the type of ship and Serenity is its name.
  • The title of the TV show Lost refers to how the greatly flawed characters are all metaphorically lost, wandering through their broken lives, before becoming physically lost on a mysterious island. This physical act of being lost is only the manner in which the series' themes and motifs are played; "getting rescued" is not the focus of the show and in fact half the characters are rescued halfway through the series and then willingly return to the island three years later.
    • It was intentionally marketed as (and began as) a series about people physically lost on a mysterious island.
  • Stargate SG-1 is often thought of as unnecessarily repetitive by those unfamiliar with the show. In actuality, it refers to the Stargate program and its flagship team: SG1.
  • The live-action/animation hybrid Vanpires had a title which actually referred to the series' villains. The good guys were named the Motorvators.

  • The question-setter for BBC Radio 2's Popmaster quiz has a tendency to misinterpret song titles such as "Slave to the Rhythm" and "Rage Hard" as descriptions rather than instructions, so there are often questions like "Which singer was a Slave to the Rhythm?" or "Which band claimed to be Rage Hard?", to which one would be justified in answering "nobody". But of course you wouldn't get the points for that.
  • The title of the Pet Shop Boys song "It Couldn't Happen Here" is sometimes thought to be a referrence to Lewis Sinclair's famous novel It Can't Happen Here. It acutally refers to a quote that Neil himself said to a friend regarding the outbreak of AIDS in America i.e he was saying it wont happen in the UK as well. Tragically, that very friend died of AIDS a only a few years later.

  • The Merchant of Venice is not Shylock, but Antonio, as made explicit by the original full title: The moſt excellent Hiſtorie of the Merchant of Venice. VVith the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the Iewe towards the ſayd Merchant, in cutting a iuſt pound of his flesh: and the obtaining of Portia by the choice of three chests.

    Video Games 
  • The World Ends with You doesn't refer to The End of the World as We Know It. Rather, it describes the hero's solipsistic outlook on life at the onset of the game. He gets better.
    • Mind you, the Japanese title is the Glurge-ical It's a Wonderful World. That name was unusable in the West due to copyright issues.
  • The title of the game series Guilty Gear is often assumed to be Gratuitous English. It in fact refers to the main character Sol Badguy, the prototype Gear who feels responsible for the creation of the Gears.
  • The Modern Warfare 2 mission No Russian, the controversial "airport level" centered on the player-character killing civilians to maintain his cover in Vladimir Makarov's Ultranationalist group, is often presumed to mean "don't kill any Russians," because Makarov and the Ultranationalists are themselves Russian, and the first line is Makarov doing a Title Drop, using the phrase as an order to the player and his other lackies before the shooting starts. The airport, however, is in Russia, and as such, the people waiting in line to pass through the metal detectors before boarding outbound flights are most certainly Russian, barring a few tourists or businessmen returning home. "No Russian" means "don't speak any Russian, use English," to disguise the fact that the attack is conducted by Russians because Makarov intends to frame the United States for it.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past features Dual-World Gameplay but does not involve any time travel, as its title suggests. It's called that in English because the main character's name is "Link" and it's a prequel to earlier games in the series.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion does not actually take place in Oblivion, which is the series' version of Hell. The game takes place in Cyrodil, with Oblivion being visited through in-game portals.
  • The Tales Series gets this a lot: the word or phrase that comes after "Tales of" in the games' titles usually has little to no relevance to the story, but some people will assume that said word is the name of the world the game takes place in.
  • Robo Army: Does the title refer to the Cyborg protagonists, or the Mecha-Mooks they fight against? The Excuse Plot is rather inconsistent in such details.
  • Enter the Gungeon is about a dungeon filled with guns, not gunge.
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: The name doesn't acutally refer to any person or thing in game, but rather to a poem engraved on the Statue Of Liberty with that phrase (ok, technically the Statue does appear in game in a brief scene when you enter the ruins of New York.)

    Western Animation 
  • Those unfamiliar with Bambi often believe that its title character is female, since "Bambi" is today considered only a girls' name.

  • Girls of the Playboy Mansion is not, contrary to what it sounds like, a porn show, but rather a documentary on the lives of the three Hugh Hefner wives.

Often occurs when a Revival or Series Franchise uses idiosyncratic names:

  • In movies, the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises had sufficient inconsistencies in their naming conventions that their first installments have been retroactively retitled.
    • The first Star Wars film was originally titled "Star Wars". It was not titled "Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope" until its second rerelease 3 years later. George Lucas claims this was because the execs thought nobody would get why this was Episode IV ... instead of which, nobody got why the second film was Episode V. By then, of course, he had enough Protection from Editors to get away with it.
    • The first Indiana Jones film was titled "Raiders of the Lost Ark". It has been re-released as "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" on home media to fit better with the sequels, although the onscreen title is still Raiders of the Lost Ark.
    • Another Star Wars example: a video game series set in the New Republic Era, featuring Kyle Katarn, a mercenary-turned-Jedi (although he was not the player character in all of them). The games were named: Dark Forces, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (with an expansion pack, Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith), Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (without any numbers despite being a sequel to Jedi Knight II, which brought yet more confusion).
      • Other confusion that Star Wars evokes is when mentioning numbers, since it started from the middle (when you mention "the first" can be either IV or I).
  • A similar film example is the Rambo series: The first movie in the series is named First Blood, the second Rambo: First Blood Part II, the third Rambo III... and to add to the confusion, the fourth movie in the series is simply titled Rambo.
    • In Europe, the fourth Rambo movie is titled John Rambo.
      • Probably because First Blood was called simply Rambo in Europe.
      • And also because it was the working title, on the footsteps of the previous "Stallone revival" (Rocky Balboa, the sixth movie of the boxer).
  • The X-Men Film Series are largely themselves to blame for the confusion around their titles. While the first is simply X-Men, the second is identified in its opening sequence as X2 but in its closing sequence as X2: X-Men United, and in publicity material is also promoted as X-Men 2, X-Men 2: X-Men United and simply X-Men United. Similarly, the third entry is variously known as X3, X3: The Last Stand, X-Men 3, X-Men: The Last Stand and The Last Stand. The next movie in the series, a prequel, gained the unnecessarily lengthy X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and is referred to simply as Wolverine by most sane people. At least until The Wolverine.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a bit of an Artifact Title; it was originally intended to be the first of a series of prequels focusing on the backgrounds of various characters (X-Men Origins: Magneto was in the works but got lost in Development Hell). Had this happened, the title, while still long, would have at least made sense because "X-Men Origins" would be the series name and "Wolverine" would be the movie name.
  • The Fast and the Furious, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, Furious 7.

    Live-Action TV 
  • When Hal Roach began his series of child-centered comedy shorts in the 1920s, his titles included Roach's Rascals and The Terrible Ten. But because the first short was titled Our Gang, the public started referring to them as "Our Gang comedies". By the time MGM took over production in 1938, Our Gang had become the official title. The series' Syndication Title, The Little Rascals, wasn't popular until the mid-1950s, when King World sold the shorts to TV stations.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise was originally titled simply Enterprise, to the confusion of fans.
  • Grace and Favour was, due to its title, not recognized by many fans as a sequel to Are You Being Served?. It became Are You Being Served? Again! in the US, where it was much more successful.

    Video Games 
  • The first game in the Command & Conquer series was retronymmed "Tiberian Dawn", though the subtitle was in the game's readme from the start.
  • Bubble Bobble; Rainbow Islands: The Story of Bubble Bobble 2; Parasol Stars: The Story of Bubble Bobble 3; Bubble Bobble Part 2 (or Bubble Bobble 2 in Japan); Bubble Symphony (or Bubble Bobble II in Europe); Bubble Memories: The Story of Bubble Bobble III. Non Linear Sequels have you confused yet?
  • Modern Warfare 2 originally didn't include the series name, Call of Duty; the original Modern Warfare was Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. When it was discovered that the absence of the series name led to fans being less aware of MW2, it was added back on. The special editions of the game still omit it on their box art.
  • The "Doom/Quake with a crossbow" series: Heretic; Hexen; Hexen II; Heretic II.
  • The Nintendo 64 installment of Castlevania was called Dracula 3D in development. It ended up being called just Castlevania internationally, but is often unofficially referred to as "Castlevania 64" to distinguish it from the original Castlevania. In Japan, the game is known as Akumajou Dracula Mokushiroku ("Demon Castle Dracula Apocalypse"). It's a wonder why Konami didn't just call the game "Castlevania Apocalypse" outside Japan.
  • The Kaneko Shoot 'em Up Air Buster is also known as Aero Blasters. The Arcade Game used the former title worldwide, while the TurboGrafx-16/PC-Engine version used the latter title in both the US and Japan. Kaneko published the Sega Genesis version as Air Buster in the US and Aero Blasters in Japan.
  • Again by Kaneko, the fighting game Power Athlete was released in the West as Deadly Moves on the Genesis and Power Moves on the SNES.
  • The Megami Tensei (literally means Goddess Reincarnation) franchise started off from a series of novels called Digital Devil Story and Megami Tensei was simply the title of the first book. When Atlus made a sequel to the first game in the series, they decided to keep Megami Tensei despite the fact that no goddesses figure into the story in later installments. Curiously, some games sometimes still refer to the series as Digital Devil Story.
  • Of the first six Final Fantasy games, only three were initially released in the U.S., and the sequels were renumbered accordingly. So Final Fantasy IV becameFinal Fantasy II, and Final Fantasy VI became Final Fantasy III. True fans of the series always used the original numbers, even when discussing the American releases. It was all rendered moot later due to all of the games getting an Updated Re-release in the U.S. and going back to the original numbers.

    Western Animation 
  • The Mister T animated series is sometimes erronously called Mr. T and the T-Force, which was the title of an unrelated 1993 comic book series published by NOW Comics that just happened to also be based on Mister T's persona.
  • The Rambo animated series is titled Rambo: The Force of Freedom, not Rambo and The Forces of Freedom.
  • After the success of Star Wars: Clone Wars, the animated series set between episodes II and III, Lucasfilm decided to create a new animated series set in the same time period called Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
  • There seems to be some confusion about whether Transformers Animated has a colon in the title, so it's either Transformers: Animated (like on the Cartoon Network site), or Transformers Animated (which shows up on all press releases about the series). Cartoon Network "up next" announcements sometimes make things even worse by appending "Series" to the end.

Titles which are plainly understood but overly long, are usually abbreviated by fans:

    Anime and Manga 


  • Star Wars Legends: Because of the confusing nature of the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight series (for more information, see above), each game can have multitudes of abbreviations, such as JKII, JO, JKII:JO, SW:JO, DFIII.
    • They are almost always called, in order, Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is usually referred to by fans as "The Hitchhiker's Guide" or sometimes "H2G2." (The in-universe guidebook of the same name is referred to in-story and out as simply "The Guide".) Most of the books in the series have similarly long titles (if not even longer), and get referred to by acronyms or significant words.
  • Several of Kurt Vonnegut's novels are have overly long titles and the extra is generally ignored:
    • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine is simply referred to as God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater
    • Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is generally called Slaughterhouse-Five. Besides his liking to create long names, the reason for adding, "The Children's Crusade" to it is explained in the book. As he was thinking of writing the book he promised the wife of one of his fellow soldiers that the book would not glorify war, promising it would be called "The Children's Crusade", to note that most of the "men" who fought in World War II were 17 to 23 years old.
    • Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday, everyone just calls it Breakfast of Champions.
    • Slapstick, or Lonesome No More!, called just Slapstick.
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is usually shortened to "Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, or even just "Jekyll and Hyde"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide is usually referred to as "Ned's Declassified" or just "Ned's"- however, the TV listings grid in Gannett newspapers lists it as "School", seemingly picking the most confusingly generic word from the title...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Temple of Elemental Evil technically has a "The" in front of it, but absolutely no one uses it (It gets a smaller font size on the original's logo even). Similarly, the computer game adaptation has the subtitle "A Classic Greyhawk Adventure", but it isn't used outside of the cover, first patch installer, and copyright screen.

    Video Games 
  • The "Android" table in Epic Pinball was subsequently tweaked and renamed "Super Android", but used both names to refer to it in-game and in menus.
  • The full title of Festers Quest, going by the title screen, is Uncle Fester's Quest: The Addams Family. Even there, however, everything but "Fester's Quest" is in much smaller letters.
  • Robotron: 2084 is usually just abbreviated as "Robotron".

  • Since almost everything else that Apple produces followed the same lowercase I and one word format (iPod, iPad, iTunes, iPhone) for the sake of consistency, a lot of people will shorten the iPod Touch to simply the iTouch. However, any time you see this in an article, expect the first comment to be something along the lines of "It's called an iPod Touch. The iTouch is a knockoff!"
  • WhizBang Pinball's Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons is seldom called such by fans, who instead refer to it as either Whoa Nellie! or Big Juicy Melons. The creators themselves often shorten it to WNBJM in blogs and other written correspondence.

Titles that the writers are inconsistent with.

    Asian Animation 
  • English-translated Happy Heroes materials can't decide whether to call the show Happy Friends, Happy Hero, Happy Heroes, or Happy Superman. Most third-party sources refer to it as Happy Heroes because 1. the Alliterative Title is easier to remember, and 2. there is more than one hero in the show, so "Heroes" should be plural.
  • The Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf season Joys of Seasons has a four-part episode comprising episodes 37 to 40. The Disney English dub titles the episode "The Lucky Can" for the first three parts, but then changes the title to "The Happy Can" for the fourth part.

    Comic Books 
  • Comic books, especially one-shots suffering from Colon Cancer, sometimes have a different title in the indicia from that on the cover.
  • Happened to Fear, a horror anthology by Marvel Comics in the first half of the 1970s. Originally, it simply reprinted stories from earlier series and was called just "Fear". After a while, it started featuring original stories starring the Man-Thing (and later Morbius), with the cover now reading "Adventure into Fear with the Man-Thing", although the word "Fear" continued to stand out (to a varying extent depending on the issue in question). Indeed, the title in the indicia remained "Fear", but as of 2017, Wikipedia claims that this was just a formality and "Adventure into Fear" was the intended and trademarked title by that point. The recent The Man-Thing by Steve Gerber: The Complete Collection however also refers to these issues as simply "Fear". And the database on Marvel's Web site, in an apparent but consistent mistake, calls the series (implicitly including the reprint-only issues) "Adventures into Fear".

  • The first book of the Acacia trilogy is properly called The War with the Mein, but this title is often relegated to a subtitle. Some editions of the book don't have the actual title on the front cover at all, naming it simpy Acacia, leading to weirdness like this product page, which lists the title as "The War with the Mein", but has a cover image with just "Acacia" on it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The BBC science show Bang Goes the Theory is titled thus in listings, on its website, and basically everywhere except on the show itself, where the presenters — and even the actual title card — now just call it Bang.

  • The Gershwin song "Oh, Lady, Be Good!" often loses the first word of its title. Part of the confusion is surely due to it being written for a musical titled Lady, Be Good! (which in fact replaced its Working Title when the song was written).
  • Starflyer 59:
    • There's an obscure B-side that was included with the vinyl version of Everyone Makes Mistakes. According to the liner notes, the song is named "Never Had a Name", but according to the label on the vinyl itself, the name is "Never Had One". Jason Martin eventually cleared up the confusion: he literally never gave the song a name, and this got lost in transmission when it came time to print the album.
    • Another song is inconsistently spelled. On the vinyl version of Dial M (published by Burnt Toast Vinyl), it's listed as "Majic". But on the digital version of Dial M and the compilation Ghosts of the Past (both published by Tooth & Nail Records), it's listed as "Magic". According to Jason, "Majic" was the intended spelling.
  • Joy Electric's 2007 album is listed as The Otherly Opus / The Memory of Alpha on the iTunes music store. It's just known as The Otherly Opus everywhere else. The longer name was the album's working title—Ronnie Martin changed the name after he'd already submitted the info to iTunes.
  • Sufjan Stevens:
    • In his album Michigan, a few song titles are listed differently inside the liner notes than they are on the back cover. Most of the differences just involve punctuation, but one is significant. The song is given as "Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickerel Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)" on the back cover, but in the liner notes the parenthetical list of locations reads "(In Lake St. Claire? Dearborn Heights? Hamtramck?)" instead.
    • Illinois was initially released on CD. When it was rereleased on vinyl, several song titles were suddenly longer. For example, "Chicago" was now listed as "Go, Chicago! Go! Yeah!" And already-verbose "To the Workers of the Rock River Valley Region: I Have an Idea Concerning Your Predicament", was lengthened to "To the Workers of the Rock River Valley Region: I Have an Idea Concerning Your Predicament, and It Involves an Inner Tube, Bath Mats, and 21 Able-bodied Men."
  • Young Deenay's album Birth includes a song called "I Wanna Be Your Man". When it became a single, it was retitled "I Want 2 Be Your Man". Both pronunciations appear in the song itself.

  • The BBC Radio 4 sitcom You'll Have Had Your Tea: The Doings of Hamish and Dougal. At least, that's what the announcer calls it. The BBC website calls it Hamish and Dougal or Hamish and Dougal: You'll Have Had Your Tea (the Radio 7 Comedy A-Z lists both seperately) and the CD covers say either Hamish And Dougal: The hilarous spin-off from I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue or I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: The Doings of Hamish and Dougal.

    Video Games 
  • Neverwinter Nights 2's first expansion is referred to as both "Mask of the Betrayer" and "Mask of The Betrayer" (The Betrayer is a character's title, so it's an exception to normal grammar rules). Even the game itself is split when using "The Betrayer" vs "the Betrayer", but the newer instances (such as the gold and platinum releases) favor capital T.
  • The X-Men Licensed Game for the NES is titled The Uncanny X-Men on the cover, but Marvel's X-Men is what the title screen says.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture for the Vectrex is identified on the title screen as Star Trek - The Game. It's a video game, not a motion picture.
  • As if the aforementioned issue with Bubble Bobble's idiosyncratic naming wasn't confusing enough, the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy versions of Parasol Stars also have an inconsistent subtitle. The title screens use "The Story of Bubble Bobble 3" while the cover art uses "Rainbow Islands II," because Ocean Software had the porting rights to Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars but not Bubble Bobble.
  • Happened twice when the Apple ][ game David's Midnight Magic was ported to the Atari 2600 — not only was the name shortened to Midnight Magic, but the in-game display misspells it as Midnite Magic instead.
  • Codemasters was seriously inconsistent with titling the games it published in the early 1990s:
    • One game box bore the title Stryker in the Crypts of Trogan. The title was only spelled the same way on the Loading Screen of the ZX Spectrum version—the Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 versions' loading screens spelled the first word "Striker." The spelling used in the actual opening titles (of all versions) is Striker in the Crypt of Trogan. To make matters worse, many online sources try to correct the last word to "Trojan."
    • Grell and Falla was consistently titled in the game itself, yet it was packaged as Grell & Fella in the Enchanted Gardens. Yes, "Falla" became "Fella."
    • Seymour Goes to Hollywood displayed Seymour at the Movies on the title screens of most versions.

  • For much the same reasons as the overly long titles above, the 1970s–1990s BBC kids' summer magazine show Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead? is referred to absolutely everywhere except the opening titles as Why Don't You...?
  • Gottlieb's Street Fighter II pinball is simply named as such, but the backglass and table includes a "Championship Edition" subtitle in a sans-serif font, perhaps due to a last-minute change.

Titles which are very similar, but not the same.

  • There were some, only going by title and not having read a synopsis or seeing a trailer, thought that 28 Days Later was a sequel to 28 Days. 28 Days Later was about a zombie outbreak, 28 Days (no "later") was Sandra Bullock playing a woman in a rehab program. It didn't help that 28 Days Later was released 2 years after 28 Days, about the expected time for a sequel to be produced.
  • The Day After is the movie about nuclear war. The Day After Tomorrow is the movie about global warming and a new ice age.
  • In the 1990s, we had Il Postino ("The Postman" in Italian) in 1994 and The Postman in 1997. The two films are totally different - one an Italian love story, the other about a drifter After the End - but both are "The Postman".

    Live-Action TV 

  • Some people assume that The Beatles' "Revolution 9" is the song that has the lyrics "You say you want a revolution..."; they're actually thinking of "Revolution 1" (or "Revolution," the B-side to "Hey Jude"). "Revolution 9" is the weird sound collage with the voice repeating, "Number nine... Number nine... Number nine..." (which notoriously sounds like "Turn me on, dead man" when played backwards).


In-universe examples:

     Comic Books 
  • The superhero Green Lantern is sometimes called "The Green Lantern". While this is understandable considering many superheros do have "The" in their name/title, it wouldn't make sense to be named this as he is part of an organization of thousands of green lanterns, wheras The Green Lantern implies he's the only one.

  • In Through the Looking-Glass, the White Knight explains to Alice that, though the name of his song is called "Haddocks' Eyes", its name really is "The Aged Aged Man". However, that's not what the song is called, which is "Ways and Means"; and, finally, the song itself is "A-sitting on a Gate".


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: