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The Doctor: "Titanic". Um...who...thought of the name?
Host Robot: Information: it was chosen as the most famous vessel of the planet Earth.
The Doctor: Did they tell you why it was famous?

Some names, frequently taken from historical events, seem to be jinxed. No one wants to ride on a ship (or a spaceship) named "Titanic" or "Hindenburg". Similarly, anything named "Icarus" is begging for a wing-clipping, and sooner or later, the Goliath is going down hard, probably to a smaller opponent (bonus points if said smaller opponent is named David). Likewise, don't compare your defenses to the walls of Jericho — that'll just make 'em go splat like an ant beneath an elephant's foot (with said ant being you, and said elephant's foot being the wrath of God.) It's probably not a good idea to name your vehicle the Doom Buggy, either, especially if you plan on driving your friends around in it. And if you're assigned to name a computer, let alone a supercomputer, then "Skynet", "Hal", and variations thereof are strictly off limits; after all, what good is a computer if all it wants to do is kill people and/or Take Over the World? And no matter its size or intended role, Colossus and Guardian are also bad choices.

Note that it has to be the name of something that has already gone down: The original Hindenburg (named after the German general Paul von Hindenburg, who did not meet any kind of horrible fate) was not an example of this trope (but Titanic arguably was, see the Real Life section below).

Compare Names to Run Away from Really Fast, Prophetic Names, I Don't Like the Sound of That Place, and Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?. Related to Analogy Backfire and of course Tempting Fate.

Due to the nature of this trope, expect spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
    • Most of the cast are named after sunken World War II battleships and carriers. Poor Asuka gets the dubious distinction of having both of her last names be associated with a terrible fate: Langley was attacked by Japanese planes and had to be scuttled, while Soryu was sunk at Midway. Is it any surprise that the place is a Dysfunction Junction?
    • Asuka also compares the door to her room to the "impenetrable wall of Jericho" at one point, and tells Shinji not to try entering while she sleeps. Considering what really happened to Jericho, this implies she either subconsciously wants the wall to be "penetrated" or intentionally gave Shinji an oblique hint to try something (which he does not).
  • There was a notable subversion in the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL; two minor antagonists, Umimi and Tobio, competed in a team duel against Yuma and Anna, with Umimi using a monster named "Supercolossal, Unsinkable Superliner Elegant Titanic" and Tobio using one named "Supercolossal Airship Giant Hindenburg". (They lost the duel, but these two monsters actually did their job rather well; if any card failed, it was the Barian Chaos Xyz that Vector gave them.)
  • Death Note: On the surface, naming your child "Light" doesn't seem to jinx anything. But no mother in her right mind writes her kid's name with the kanji for moon, which has four strokes. Plus, Light Yagami's name seems to mostly derive from another infamous light-associated character — Lucifer the Light-Bringer. Not to mention his last name is written with the kanji for "night" and "God".
  • In One Piece, we have Ace of the Spades Pirates. Ace of Spades is known as the death card. Guess who died at the end of Marineford?
  • The giant tower superweapon in Metropolis (2001) is named "Ziggurat", after towers said to be built by the Babylonians to show off their power, the most famous being the tower of Babel. Of course, it ends up toppling. What makes this especially ridiculous is that this is acknowledged in the actual movie.
  • Bokurano: The group's Humongous Mecha Zearth ("The Earth") was named after a fictional mecha that was similarly controlled by a bunch of kids, which they came across in an old manga (implied to be The Moon). However, none of them have read the whole thing, so they don't find out until later that it had a Downer Ending where the kids fail and Earth is destroyed.
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: The Titans develop "Psychic Communicator" technology that interfaces with Newtype minds, which is usually called "Psycommu" for short. However, when it's first implement into a mobile suit, it's given the much more alarming abbreviation "Psyco Gundam", which unfortunately reflects the fates of its pilots.

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen:
    • Adrian's chosen codename is "Ozymandias", because of the greatness of that historical figure. Ozymandias is also a symbol for futility, from a famous Percy Bysshe Shelley poem that Moore even quotes, and the end of the series suggests that Rorschach's journal could be discovered and cause Adrian's plan to fail. Apparently, he wanted to reclaim the name from the elegant ignominy to which Shelley's poem had consigned it, but considering what happens later on it does backfire somewhat.
    • A recurring brand of door-locks come from a company that was rather stupidly (but appropriately) named "Gordian Knot Locks". Fittingly, we see the locks broken several times, but apparently never picked.
  • Icarus of the X-Men, a mutant born with wings. Reverend Stryker cuts his wings off, tricks him into helping kill a busload of his former friends, and then murders him.
  • When Henry Pym got tired of the name "Giant Man", he changed it to "Goliath". Others who took his growth serum, such as Clint Barton and William Foster, took the name Goliath as well. And finally, during Civil War, Foster was killed by a clone of Thor, who was relatively small in comparison...
  • Another Goliath in Marvel was Erik Josten, who formerly called himself Power Man (not this one) and the Smuggler before gaining powers similar to Pym's. Not the best villain, he eventually changed his name to Atlas when he became one of the Thunderbolts. (Still not the best name, as anyone who studies Classical Mythology knows, and he's gone downhill since their ruse was exposed.)
  • A common out-of-universe reaction to the '70s storyline wherein Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy was addicted to drugs. As Superdickery put it, "It's like walking in on your ward doing a corpse and going 'Necrophilia Lad! How could you?!"
  • The Avengers were named that way, in-universe, simply by Rule of Cool. A villain committed a human sacrifice during The Gatherers Saga, and Sersi killed him on the spot. All the others were horrified, and the Black Widow asked her if she realized what has she just done. "Of course, Natasha. I was an Avenger!"
  • A Running Gag in Judge Dredd is that the famous people Blocks are named after are often horribly apposite for the particular disaster that befalls them, such as a Mix-and-Match Woman being created in Mary Shelley Block or mind-control parasites infesting Colin Wilson Block.
  • The Purple Man, evil mind-controller and one of Marvel's most sadistic supervillains, is named Zebediah Killgrave. In an issue of Daredevil, Kirsten wonders aloud if his parents just assumed he'd grow up to be evil. Matt quips back that "We call it the Victor von Doom paradox".
  • DC supervillain Everyman, introduced in 52, is a shapeshifter with the ability to turn into anything that he's consumed some part of — he doesn't actually need anything more significant than a single hair or a fingernail, but he is downright gleeful about eating much more than a fingernail. His real name? Hannibal Bates.
  • Doctor Morrow was the one who came up with The Secret Society Of Super Villain's plan to create a weapon that could kill members of The Justice League, should the need arise. However he did not approve of the way Barbara Minerva, Felix Faust and Crime Doctor went about the plan, and especially disapproved of the fact they named the weapon "Genocide". Needless to say, while Genocide listens to the society at first, it/she ultimately cares less about fighting the Justice League than she does indentifying and then killing off segments of the human population, ultimately planning to carry out genocide after genocide until there are no humans left on Earth.

    Comic Strips 
  • There was a Hägar the Horrible strip that featured Hagar looking at a ship Unsinkable II and wondering "What happened to the first one?"
  • One FoxTrot strip had Jason submitting an idea to James Cameron for Titanic II about a ship named "Titanic II", complete with a "They thought it couldn't go wrong again..." narration.

    Fan Works 
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon names his new learning phone (which was created from a piece of data left behind by Ryoko Asakura) Skynet. Subverted, in that the reason he named it Skynet is because he fully expects it to betray him.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, Wizard Ponder Stibbons and Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes name their youngest daughter Ruth Leonora. Ruth grows up into a young girl with distinct signs of genius and has a brilliantly inventive mind. Ponder realises she is a catch-net for inspiration particles. Johanna frets that calling her Leonora is too like Leonard (of Quirm) and wonders if this is asking for trouble. Ponder reminds her the Leonora bit is after Johanna's grandmother. And that if they'd really wanted to court trouble, they'd have added a third name, Daquirmia, or something like that. Johanna tells him not to even go there. Sure enough, something is listening...
  • Birthday Gift:
    Harry: If you two can get a 24-hour polyjuice developed and patented, my Gods, I'll stockpile. That would be bloody useful for the Auror Corps.
    Snape: Eloquent as always Potter. I heard that Ginevra is with child again?
    Harry: Yes! It's a boy. Jamie hasn't quite figured out what's happening yet, but that little trouble-maker is in for an eye-opening.
    Hermione: Well, given who he is named for, I don't know what else you expected.
  • Black&Black:
    "Down boy..." [Harry] tried to order while avoiding getting his face full of doggy drool. Sometimes he regretted naming him after Padfoot, the name alone ensued that his furry friend was mischievous with an aversion for rules, but then he would just laugh and think that it was all worth it because it gave him a reminder of his fun loving godfather.
  • Much like in the source material The Camp Half-Blood Series, Sally Jackson in ''they'll name a city after us named her demigod child after the ancient hero Perseus in hope that his good luck of having a happy ending would rub off, but unfortunately Percy is also a variant of Persephone, who just like Percy was kidnapped by a lovesick god.
  • In Jade Green Eyes Lucius comments that his grandfather, who was disappointed with his son's personality, named Lucius after four of the most evil Malfoy men in family history in an attempt to invoke this. It didn't work.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • People seem to find humor in Disaster Movie bombing at the box office.
  • In a similar vein, more than a few critics noted the appropriateness of an Alice Cooper B-movie being entitled Monster Dog.
  • The ship in Sunshine is flying to the Sun with the name Icarus II. As if the name isn't Tempting Fate enough, they still stuck with it after losing the original Icarus. On the other hand, it does feel appropriate on some level for a ship whose primary purpose is "flying dangerously close to the sun".
  • Similarly to the above, some bright spark thought naming the good experimental ship Event Horizon after a theoretical point of no return was a fantastically great idea. Turns out that, sure, twisting space-time into tortured loops to try going fast is great. Until it very much isn't. Who'd've thunk? Well, it did return off its own bat. Eventually. So... Um... Yay? Success?
  • To the humans in Avatar — you named the new moon Pandora? Really? No-one cares if it means "All-Gifted," there's a reason you don't try to open things named after or belonging to Pandora! There are currently no apparent illusions that Pandora's anything less than a chaotic deathtrap.
  • The Asylum movie Titanic 2 features a shipping magnate not only building a second Titanic but also setting its maiden voyage on the 100th anniversary of the original disaster and having it traverse the exact same route of the original (though in the opposite direction). Somehow, things go even worse than in the original voyage: the ship is slammed by an iceberg carried by a tsunami and later is hit by a second "mega tsunami". It ends with the female lead as the sole survivor. And this is played 100% straight.
    • It managed to get a sequel in 2022 which saw a third Titanic being built and going over the exact same area again. Much like its predecessors, this one sinks as well, this time to the angered spirits of the original crew.
  • In Cherrybomb (2009), the health centre where Malachy works is called "Titanic Leisureplex". And people are surprised when bad things start happening there.
  • In the James Bond film Die Another Day, the villain's superweapon is named "Icarus". At the end of the movie, the villain loses control of the weapon and accidentally burns the wings off his own plane, causing a spectacular crash.
  • In Mimic, genetic engineers attempt to exterminate cockroaches with their own genetically altered cockroach. They call it the Judas Breed. Three guesses what the new species prefers as prey.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
    • The main primate is named Caesar. He eventually leads the ape rebellion.
    • If you pay attention to the TV in the background during one scene, you'll see news coverage of a NASA launch which is called Icarus (implied to be the ship that crash lands in the beginning of the original movie). Sure enough, just a few scenes later, a newspaper headline can be seen proclaiming that the ship has mysteriously vanished, and we all know what happened to it after that.
  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes: The original Caesar fits as well, even if the name was given to him by the circus owner who adopted him — the parents named him "Milo". He would eventually lead the new ape race in their revolt against the human yoke and conquest of the Earth.
  • The original colonists' ship in Forbidden Planet is called the Bellerophon. In Classical Mythology, Bellerophon was a great hero, yes, and he did tame the Pegasus. However, he also fell victim to hubris, and was punished by being sent crashing down to Earth from his mount, where he died a blinded cripple. Guess what happened to the ship?
  • Hey, we've got a band! We've got one really great song called That Thing You Do!. What should we call ourselves? The Wonders? Perfect! Lampshaded in that, initially, they call themselves "The One-Ders" (they only have one song, get it?). The MC at their first performance thinks the joke is crap and simplifies it. Further lampshaded when the lead singer quits and Tom Hanks calls them the One-hit Wonders. "Very common tale."
  • The 1967 Doctor Dolittle movie — the one with Rex Harrison — features this exchange:
    Matt: I told you Flounder was no name for a boat!
    Dolittle: Nonsense. Flounders have survived for millions of years.
    Matt: Yes, under the water!
  • A more in-universe example: in one of the Gilligan's Island movies, the group finally manages to get off the island. At the end of the movie, they all get back together for a reunion cruise, on a boat named the Minnow II. Was anyone surprised by what happened next?
  • In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the British government tried to create a backup version of MI6 known as The Syndicate. Somehow the Prime Minister was the only person who thought naming your covert counter-terrorism bureau after the word for organized crime was a bad idea, but by the time the project was disbanded it was far too late.
  • Jurassic World has a new genetic hybrid dinosaur made to be the scariest predator named Indominus rex. Given it has "indomitable" right in the name, it's no surprise the thing turns out to be an untameable and deadly maverick. Then Fallen Kingdom introduces a dinosaur in the same vein called Indoraptor, which is quite appropriate for something designed as a killing machine.
  • The research ship Prometheus from the film of the same name. Prometheus was a titan who stole fire from the Gods to give it to mankind, and was caught and eternally tortured by the Gods for his trespass by having his liver pecked out by an eagle for all eternity. Guess what happens to the titular ship when it goes looking for the gods' knowledge?

  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us a few examples of the in-world naming convention faux pas and oopsie.
    • Tagaryen examples: Maegor/Maelys/Maekar (may-you-never-be-trusted), Daemon (may-you-never-inherit), Visarys/Viserion/Visenya (may-you-be-overshadowed), Aegon (you-cannot-possibly-live-up-to-The-Dragon), Rhaenyra/Rhaegar (may-you-cause-civil-war-and-die-horribly) or Rhaenys (may-you-just-die-horribly) or Rhaegal (may-you-kill-others-horribly), Baelor (may-you-be-too-good-for-this-world) and last, but not least: Aemon (may-you-be-celibate-through-choice).
    • There are a couple of apparent Targaryen sequence-breaker names that still manage to share a little something across the people with them, such as: the Daenaryses (beautiful, caring, initially valued solely as trade material... either a more significant footnote than most realise or a conquering exclamation mark that most don't want to think about).. and, the the Daerons; "the Young Dragon" (a bit 50/50 — undeniably brilliant, yet horribly rash), "the Good/ Wise" (who had an unbelievable mess to clean up as King, but did pretty well, with some hiccups)... and "the Drunkard"? Actually, Prince Daeron had enough of the Royalty Superpower to know he'd not be fit for the throne, so deliberately made sure he wasn't ever seen as such — wise or not, you decide. If so — he might have lived up to the name, if you see Dae as meaning "may you engender both greatness and folly, both recognised and unrecognised".
    • Balon Greyjoy named his little son after a famous Stark king in a form of Villain Respect (from an Iron Islands' perspective). Um... Theon was doomed to live between stools even before he became a Stark hostage, wasn't he?
    • Both Lyanna Stark and Lyanna Mormont are remarkably willful.
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi centers around the newly-colonized planet of Roanoke. The protagonist essentially facepalms when it hits him. Subverted in that the name was quite deliberately chosen by those who set up the colony, and hints at their reasons and ultimate plan for it - though it still goes awry for those who set the colony up, in a way according to the name. Roanoke wasn't simply lost, its settlers abandoned it and joined the natives (whether willingly or not is still a matter of debate).
  • The Starship Titanic is mentioned in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, along with the GSS Suicidal Insanity.
    • The latter is part of a crescendo sequence, GSS Daring, GSS Audacity, and GSS Suicidal Insanity. Daring and Audacity are actual names of Royal Navy ships.
    • Starship Titanic later got its own game and novelisation. Its maiden voyage went as hilariously badly as one would expect given the name and the author.
  • The Wing Commander novel False Colors has a character refuse to name a ship the Alamo, because while the Battle of the Alamo is an inspirational bit of history and the defenders were heroes... they lost. And they all died.
  • Lampshaded in one of the Honor Harrington books. The Havenite battle plan is code-named Icarus, and one of the commanding officers muses that if he were in charge, he wouldn't have named the plan after the one whose wings fell apart. Strangely, it's one of Haven's most successful operations.
    • It's possible that the "Icarus" in "Operation Icarus" actually referred to the Manticorans.
    • Also: The Solarian League named a series of ships the Joseph Buckley class. They should've known.
      • They probably did — given that the scientist himself was well known in-universe for his reckless disregard of common sense. And it gets worse: Every Solarian ship named after Joseph Buckley (and there were quite a few) met bad ends. Several of them were lost to accidents instead of combat.
    • In the Manticore Ascendant novel A Call To Duty, a Manticoran sloop is called Phobos, after one of the moons of Mars,note  but by extension, also after the Greek personification of fear. The ship proves to be a nightmare for her builders and crew, and meets a disastrous end.
  • The novel Icarus Down by James Bow is named for a far-flung Earth colony and is set 62 years after the colony ship, known as the Icarus, crashed. It had appeared too close to the planet's sun...
  • In the Navigator Pirks series, there is a story about a spaceship called "Goliath", which was sent to investigate Saturn's rings. Goliath was killed by a small rock. Saturn's rings are made of small rocks. Guess how well that goes.
  • There's a short story which replays the Charge of the Light Brigade with robots on another planet. The general whose orders accidentally sent the robots attacking the wrong enemy positions was observing from a starship Balaklava, named for the battle in which the original charge took place.
  • In the Adventures of Captain Vrungel, the captain names his boat Pobeda, "Victory", because "it will sail according to how you name it. You can name your boat 'Trough' or 'Sieve"', but don't expect it to not to sink at its first sailing." Ironically, at Pobeda's first sailing, two letters fall off and the ship becomes Beda: "Trouble" (the pun is "Courage" and "Rage" in the English translation). The four letters remaining are the only part of the ship to complete the journey. The animated adaptation averts the trope, and the yacht survives until the end. It is also the Russian Trope Namer.
    • There's a Shout-Out to this in Alpha Protocol, where a mobster's yacht in Moscow is named the same thing, with the "Po" missing; by the morning after Mike visits, it's a ghost ship with no signs of a struggle.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Han confronts an incredibly naive Imperial weapons designer about the projects she's worked on. Projects with names like Death Star, World Devastator, and Sun Crusher. Did she really think that these would be projects with peaceful applications?
  • The good airship Hubris in More Information Than You Require.
  • Star Trek Expanded Universe:
    • Discussed in Diane Duane's novel My Enemy, My Ally. The Rihannsu (Romulan) belief system places great meaning on names, and it is considered unlucky to name a ship after a virtue, as it is all too likely to take too much of the spirit of that virtue. Kirk then muses on the unlucky histories of ships named Intrepid, and the Rihannsu renegade he's speaking with explains, "Name a ship for the spirit of fearlessness, and it forgets to fear." (She also thinks it explains why the ship named for the spirit of enterprise is so constantly in the thick of things.)
    • The Next Gen novel The Children of Hamlin by Carmen Carter concerns a Federation colony named Hamlin who were subjected to an alien attack in which all the children were abducted.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Professor Remus Lupin is a werewolf — "Remus" being a mythical child raised by wolves (brother to Romulus, founder of Rome), and "Lupin" is derived from "lupine", which means "wolf-like". In addition, out of the two Roman brothers, guess which one died (killed by his twin, even) when you have to be alive to found a city. He appears aware of this, as he uses "Romulus" as a pseudonym for a radio broadcast late in the series.
    • There's a werewolf character named Fenrir Greyback. Fenrir is the wolf-shaped son of Loki in Norse mythology, and Greyback is obvious. On the other hand, Fenrir likes being a werewolf, so it's not impossible he chose the name deliberately.
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story Sucker Bait, humanity tries to colonise a lush, though somewhat cold (but rich in biosphere) planet called Troas. The first colonisation expedition died after three years on the planet — and now they're sending an investigative team. If it's not clear how this qualifies, "Troas" is the region Troy was in — though they did have a valid reason to name it that, as it was in the L5 or "Trojan" Lagrange Point of the binary system.
  • In the Troy Rising series, the alien Rangora are rather baffled by the fact that Earth's first two Battlestations are named after famous, historical defeats — the Troy and the Thermopylae. (Of course, any defeat is a victory for someone else — the Greeks won one of those, and technically lost the other.) But ultimately, the trope is subverted — both battlestations wind up facing scenarios similar to their historical counterparts, but weather them. In the third book, Tyler Vernon admits that he named the first two stations after those historic defeats because back then, he didn't know if they'd work — his main hope was that, even in defeat, they'd be memorable and serve as an inspirational example to future resistance, similar to how the fall of Troy is believed to have caused the birth of the Roman Empire, and the Battle of Thermopylae catalyzed Greece into an ultimately successful union to oppose the Persian invaders.
  • German novel Azrael has the eponymous experimental drug named after the angel of death. Of course, the book is of the horror genre.
  • Invoked in The Sound and the Fury when the younger Quentin Compson disappears. Her grandmother promptly looks for a suicide note, assuming she followed the lead of her deceased uncle Quentin.
  • The Lost Fleet series gives us the Invincible, a ship name with the highest turnover rate of all. Most see the name as an affront to the ancestors and the living stars. Despite this, the fleet bureaucracy refuses to retire the name and gives it to a new ship as soon as they learn that the previous one has been destroyed. The bureaucrats are really pissed off after learning that the officers of the fleet have chosen to name a captured alien battleship Invincible. As expected, it gets destroyed in the last novel of the first spin-off series.
  • In Dragon Bones, the protagonist's father had a stallion named "Stygian", which is derived from the river Styx from the Greek underworld. Crossing the river Styx means death. Well, it's not surprising that he's killed by that very horse. Ward decides to let the stallion live, but renames it "Pansy". The horse changes accordingly, and becomes quite patient and gentle. Of course, the fact that Ward (very much unlike his father) treats it kindly, also helps.
  • In the Saturn's Children short story "Bit Rot", the interstellar ship Lanford Hastings suffer an accident that leaves most of the robot crew crazy and with an insatiable need for uncontaminated materials, which mostly means unaffected crewmembers (in other words, a mechanical Zombie Apocalypse). The ship is named after the developer of the Hastings Cutoff, a 19th century shortcut through Utah, which would be a good name for an exploratory vessel, except the Cutoff is where the Donner Party happened.
  • Author Colin Wilson shot to fame with a treatise on anomie, alienation and the consequent loner syndrome in art and literature called The Outsider 1958. The theme of the book was one of great art being called into being through solitude, alienation, and being misunderstood by a society unable to accept the presence of genius. He drily noted that the impact of the book caused the formation of at least one association of romantic-minded and alienated young men called "The Outsider Society". He pointed out the logical fallacy involved in this, and speculated as to whether these fans had grasped the essential theme of the book.
  • In Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Won't-Walk-the-Dog Cure, the problem that Einstein Treadupon has to have solved by Missy Piggle-Wiggle is that he's a know-it-all, a child genius who won't shut up explaining things to people they don't want to hear and is always interrupting and being rude. Prior to her curing him, however, some felt that the Treadupons got exactly what they should have expected when they named Einstein this.
  • In Helliconia trilogy, the eponymous planet is observed by Terrans from a space station called Avernus, which by the final book turns into utter chaos as its inhabitants go mad from being locked up in space,note  genetically engineering obscene creatures among many depravities. Perhaps it wasn't such a brilliant idea to give that station a name alluding to a purported entrance to the underworld.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., one supervillain is mentioned to have gotten his powers from a project manipulating "Darkforce". It is immediately lampshaded by Coulson, who snarks that "nothing bad ever happens when you're working with something called 'Darkforce'."
  • Andromeda: All Nietzscheans have names like this, though most of them are pretty obscure references. The season 2 finale had an example so blatant, Trance just had to lampshade it.
    Trance: What kind of life does a Nietzschean mother expect for her son when she names him Genghis Stalin?
  • Babylon 5:
    • One episode featured some barely-audible background dialogue along the lines of "Transport Marie Celeste now docking." When fans pointed out online that no one would be crazy enough to name a starship after a famous ocean-going ship whose crew vanished mysteriously, creator J. Michael Straczynski pointed out that Australians might indeed be just that crazy.
    • Elsewhere in the series was also a ship named the "Icarus". It was an archaeological explorer's vessel, and it was destroyed with all hands lost when it went to Z'ha'dum, the home of the Shadows, and woke them up.
    • That "5" in the name of the show's primary setting is there because there were four other Babylon stations before it, all either destroyed or, in one case, vanished. The actual ancient city of Babylon didn't fare too well either...
      • It is emblematic of humans in the series that they stuck with the concept, when another species would have given up, or at least picked a different name.
      • Also, since Babylon is the name of the diplomatic project, it becomes a lot simpler to see why the Babylon stations had so many problems. We're outright told that Babylons 1 through 3 were destroyed by terrorist attacks, while 4 mysteriously vanished without a trace. It was actually commandeered by Sinclair to battle the Shadows a thousand years in the past. 1-3 were destroyed because there were people who were determined to prevent organised diplomacy happening for some reason. In any case, it's rather like the swamp castle in Monty Python's Search For The Holy Grail. The station is seen as a necessity, so they're gonna keep building stations, and the stations are named after the project.
    • According to the fluff, they used surviving parts of the destroyed stations to help build the new ones, implying that B4 had parts of B1-3. Obviously, they didn't think the name was cursed, as they wouldn't have used the parts otherwise.
  • CSI: The Body of the Week of the "Angle of Attack" episode turns out to have been killed by a experimental jet engine powered wingsuit that was code named "Project Icarus". This is Lampshaded by Nick.
    Claudia: Uh, okay. I expect you'll want to start with our Project Icarus lab.
    Detective Crawford: Icarus?
    Nick: Icarus. Greek myth. Wax wings, flew too close to the sun. That's a bit of an inauspicious name for a wingsuit project, given the way things turned out for poor old Icarus, don't you think?
  • Doctor Who: "Voyage of the Damned" features a spacefaring vessel called Titanic that resembles the famed ship. Used for tourist visits to a primitive planet (namely Earth), it was named after a "famous ocean-going Earth vessel." The Doctor comments on how poor a name that is, and isn't too surprised when the ship starts to blow up and "sink". It was an Invoked Trope. The ship was supposed to crash into the planet and go nuclear, as a sort of genocidal corporate revenge scheme... As the resident "expert" on Earth culture clearly has a rather incomplete and distorted understanding of the planet, the lack of picking up on the significance of the name isn't all that surprising.
  • More than one character on Firefly has wondered why Mal would name Serenity after the valley where the Browncoats lost a battle and, consequently, the entire war.
  • Lampshaded in The Flash (2014) when Barry suggests asking criminal suspect Hannibal Bates's grandmother if she expected someone named "Hannibal" to grow up to be anything other than a criminal. Or, alternatively, as a general who ultimately lost.
  • House: Dr. House talks to a patient who apparently tried to kill himself:
    House: I check this box, you go to the psych ward where your roommates will be Jesus and Crazypants McLoony Bin. That guy never had a chance.
  • In one episode of Married... with Children Peg got a really good deal on some chicken. The fact that it came from a place called "Chernobyl Farms" really should have set off a red flag. (Actually, the bad case of the runs it gives Al is what gives him the inspiration to build his new bathroom, something he actually manages to do right for a change, more or less.)
  • My Cat from Hell:
    • This is basically host / cat trainer Jackson Galaxy's reaction to a Season 6 cat named Darkness. Darkness' female owner Laura was convinced the cat was demon-possessed and would freak out if he so much as moved toward her. Jackson's argument was that calling the cat Darkness, plus expecting him to act aggressively, wasn't helping anything. As such, one of Jackson's first homework assignments was having them change Darkness' name; they ended up changing it to Jedi.
    • Similarly, one episode has Jackson dealing with a cat that is actually named Spike, but is almost never called that anymore, called "Bastard" instead by the owner because of biting/scratching behavior. One of the first things Jackson does is to nix the "Bastard" because if that's what the owner expects, that's probably what she's going to get.
  • In Red Dwarf, the Dwarf's mainframe computer goes interestingly insane, or at least erratic, after spending three million years in deep space with nobody to talk to. The resurrected Dwarfers call this "computer senility". The computer is called Holly - the name evokes Hal in "2001". Especially after about seven years they eventually got to the line: "Open the doors, Hol'." "I can't do that, Dave."
  • Stargate:
    • Lampshaded on Stargate SG-1 when O'Neill complains about the proposed name for the first X-303, "Prometheus", saying "It's a Greek tragedy, who wants that?" That didn't stop them from choosing the name anyway, though, because "guy who stole fire from the Gods" was too appropriate to pass up when fighting god-wannabes (and using technology stolen from them); the creators lampshaded it further by naming the episode in which it was eventually destroyed after the eagle who tormented mythological Prometheus ("Ethon"). Of course, the main reason he didn't want it called Prometheus was because he wanted to call it the Enterprise.
    • McKay also got shut down for that by Sheppard. They went with Orion instead. None of the other named ships appear to match their name origins. Although, that was mainly because the ship's original Ancient name, Hippofaralkus, was universally considered to be kind of lame.
    • Interestingly, despite being the same class, only a few Daedalus-class ships have similar themed names. The Daedalus herself, the Odyssey, and the Apollo (even though the Odyssey is the name of the story, not of the character). Other names are all over the place: the Korolev was given to the Russians, who named it after a Soviet rocket designer named Sergei Korolev; the Sun Tzu was given to the Chinese, who named it after a famous general; the George Hammond was originally called the Phoenix (which is, actually, fitting for this trope) but was renamed after General Hammond's death.
    • It's not just the humans that get in on it: when the Asgard create a new class of ship (which is apparently a VERY unique occurrence for them) with all the best technology and most powerful weapons they could come up with to fight the Replicators, they name it the O'Neill. O'Neill himself is shocked, but honored. What happens? Its maiden voyage turns into a batshit crazy direct assault on the Replicators, leads them away, and self-destructs to wipe them out in the massive hyperspace explosion. Because the Replicators had never seen the logical-to-a-fault Asgard do anything like the psychotic, outside-the-box thinking strategy used, they fell for it.
    • The first episode of Stargate Universe features the Icarus Project. Let's just say there's been a little SNAFU. The novelization of the Stargate Universe pilot has the ever Genre Savvy O'Neill planning to tear a strip off of whoever came up with the name "Icarus".
  • In one episode of Seinfeld, Jerry joked that if you name your kid Jeeves, you are guaranteeing that he'll be a butler when he grows up.
  • One skit in That Mitchell and Webb Look features the mad scientist Professor Death showing his creations to the military. Despite their ominous-sounding names and immediately evident potential for killing people, they were all genuinely created without 'evil' uses in mind.

  • There's a musician who calls himself Mighty Casey. You've heard of him, right? ...oh.
  • In the 1980s, Australia's Mushroom Records started a punk label called Suicide Records. It was a huge financial disaster (although influential artists such as Nick Cave cut their teeth there).

  • In Cabin Pressure, Martin makes ends meet by running a moving company called Icarus Removals in the time he can spare from being a volunteer pilot. Douglas helpfully Lampshades the implications of a pilot naming a company after Icarus.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost says that changelings avoid naming their freeholds after myths, legends, or fairy tales for exactly this reason, because the Wyrd sometimes like to make sure the story repeats itself. Mention is made of "the grave fate that befell New Lyonesse."
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Space Hulks are gigantic derelict spaceships adrift in the warp where they occasionally smash into other space hulks. When they emerge back to realspace, the people who find them always give them names like Spawn of Damnation, Judgement of Carrion or Monolith of Woe (lampshaded by Inquisitor Vail, who notes that whichever Inquisitorial conclave named the Spawn of Damnation has a thing for the melodramatic). Though in this case, they name it expecting bad things inside, like sleeping genestealers, very much awake Orks, and/or daemons.
    • Many, many Space Marines good and bad are named after mythological demons, evil gods, and other malevolent spirits,...small wonder that some fell to Chaos. We're looking at you, Erebus.
    • One of the most glaring examples: the planet that has had some of the most apocalyptic wars fought over it in the entire setting happens to be named Armageddon. There are only slightly less planets with foreboding names than made-up ones: Typhon, Settler's Bane, Eldritch, Medusa, Gunpoint, Woe, Murder, Baal, Firestorm, Birmingham...
    • Kharn the Betrayer (what a guy!) is famous for singlehandedly destroying his own Legion as collateral damage during a battle with the Emperor's Children, taking offense at the idea of nobody wanting to fight just because it was a few degrees below zero and these days for hitting every time he swings in close combat (not necessarily an enemy). Of course, when your first name is literally "traitor" (in Arabic, though Kharn is supposedly from what was Germany)...
  • BattleTech has several Humongous Mecha with less than promising names. Most telling is the Walking Tank known as the Goliath. It's well-armored and heavily armed, but it's also notoriously hard to maneuver and has the unfortunate tendency to carry a lot of ammo in its main body. Also, the vast majority of its weapons are optimized for long range and firing forward. As a result, it's vulnerable to smaller, faster designs that can close inside its range or move outside of its firing angles to find a weak spot, including a shot to the cockpit in its head.

  • In On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Daisy is about to board a plane, but has a premonition that it will crash. It turns out that the plane's name, Trelawney, is the same as the eighteenth-century ship whose historically confirmed sinking brought her previous life to an unfortunate end.

    Video Games 
  • The Douglas Adams computer game Starship Titanic.
  • While the flying city of Bioshock Infinite is named Columbia, its government codename was... "Project Icarus". This being Bioshock, things go badly there.
    • Not to mention the original BioShock. It may not be fitting to name a projected utopian city "Rapture".
  • In Borderlands, humans are looking for fame and treasures in a legendary vault on a planet named Pandora. Never mind that even before hearing this name most people wouldn't want to spend five minutes on it.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, there is an item found early in the game called Scroll of Icarian Flight. It boosts your Acrobatics skill by 1000, which both allows you to jump very high/far. The problem? This skill boost only lasts 7 seconds. You won't be able to reach the ground before the scroll wears off. To give you more of a hint, you get the scroll off the dead body of a mage, when he lands in front of you from out of nowhere. If you're quick you can save him by casting a Slowfall spell, but he'll just tell you "I don't want to talk about it" and then walk away. You can use the scroll to leap to the top of a mountain or into a lake, which can actually make them useful.
  • Fallout: New Vegas brings us Camp Forlorn Hope — a front-line NCR military outpost on the edge of being overrun by the Legion. About the only way the camp name could be even more conducive to the loss of battles and morale is if it was 'Camp Certain Death.'
    • Actually, it's even worse. "Forlorn Hope" is a military term coming from the Dutch "Verloren Hoop", "lost hope", referring to the first wave sent into attack who are pretty much doomed to die. Basically, it's "Camp We Have Reserves".
    • In fact, it apparently used to be called Camp Hope. It got the name after things went to hell.
    • There is an actual Forlorn Hope Spring in Nevada, and the camp does indeed have a spring running through it. They probably could have picked a nicer name for the spring, though.
  • In Solatorobo: Red the Hunter, the ship Red infiltrates in the Prologue is named the Hindenburg. Of course, by the end of the Prologue, it's lost to a giant monster that suddenly appears in front of it.
  • When Hawke is tasked to find out what happened to the workers at a mine near Kirkwall in Dragon Age II, s/he mentions to its owner that his first mistake was naming his mine "The Bone Pit." Subverted in that the owner, Hubert, didn't actually name the mine; the locals did, largely due to the area's grisly history.
  • Kid Icarus (1986) plays this trope straight... in the non-Japanese title of the series and the overseas title alone. Doesn't stop the sequels from having Pit from getting his wings burnt off, the first time in Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters and again in Kid Icarus: Uprising.
  • Chrono Trigger's Kingdom of Zeal named their generator the Mammon Machine. The original Japanese name was the only-slightly-less-ominous "majinki", or "Demon God Device". Surprisingly, the planet-eating Eldritch Abomination the generator was getting its energy from ended up destroying Zeal first.
  • The fan-favorite Call of Duty: Zombies map "Mob of the Dead" has a group of mobsters in Alcatraz Prison build a plane out of clothing, wire frames, and air conditioners. If you build the plane, as you might expect, it promptly crashes. The plane’s name? The Icarus.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:
    • The game has an espionage mission set during the Cold War, with a trio of spies code-named "ADAM, EVA, and Snake" assigned to the case. Come on, what's the worst that could happen? It's not like one of them could be a traitor or anything... right? In a subversion, though, Snake is the only completely trustworthy agent of the three (at least, at the time).
    • One of the several major ending spoilers of the game is that when a guy who calls himself Snake asks to see ADAM, it doesn't take a genius for a woman to say her name is EVA and see how far it will get her.
  • StarCraft has the Goliath: A potent Mini-Mecha, equipped with AA missiles and machine guns, it can do heavy damage to most targets and is fairly durable. If a few of them are alone and are attacked by numerous smaller units, however, their targeting systems are really bad at prioritization. So a few Zerglings, the game's cheapest units, can bring down an expensive and powerful unit a few times their size. Sound familiar?
  • In Pokémon Fire Red and Leaf Green, a man in the Sevii islands enlists the help of the player character to find his lost daughter. Her name? Lostelle.
  • Ingress: "It’s called Niantic. Named after some ship that’s buried under San Francisco. The NIA names all their projects after shipwrecks. That should have been my first clue."
  • As if it wasn't bad enough to choose to base her design and programming off of the maniacal, human-destroying Mother Brain from the Bad Future, for some reason Balthasar and Lucca of Chrono Cross chose to name the supercomputer in charge of protecting the future and preventing the Day of Lavos from ever happening...FATE. Once thrown into the past by the Time Crash, she initially continues to follow her programming, ensuring the people of El Nido (descendants of Chronopolis' workers) did not interfere with the Zenan mainland and thus change the future...but then through the Records she sets herself up as a goddess, manipulates and experiments upon the people so as to understand life (and eventually become a new sentient lifeform), and once cut off from the Frozen Flame decides as a goddess she is justified in doing anything to regain its power and carry out her mission.
  • Alien Legacy gives us two colony ships with dubious names: the UNS Tantalus and the UNS Calypso. Tantalus is a figure in Classical Mythology who killed his son and was being a dick to the gods. His punishment was to be put into Tartarus with food and water nearby that would move out of his reach when he tried to take them (hence the word "tantalizing") and a rock suspended over his head. Why anyone would name a ship carrying one of the last representatives of humanity is unclear. For reference, you play The Captain of the Calypso as it arrives to a system already colonized by the Tantalus. You find only ruins and no trace of the people.
    • Calypso is a character from The Odyssey who forcibly keeps Odysseus on her island for many years. Not much better. On the other hand, another meaning of "calypso" is "to conceal", which is appropriate for a ship that is supposed to carry the last humans away from a race of murdering aliens.
  • Mega Man X3 has Vile and his new powerful Ride Armor, the Goliath. The fight with him in the armor is... not the most difficult thing you'll face. (The subsequent battle with him once he is out of the armor is a bit more challenging, but...)
  • Cave Story has the young witch Misery who, due to being The Dragon to The Doctor, causes plenty of hardships for the player character and the Mimigas on the island. Also her backstory which explains that she was cursed by Ballos and is forced to serve whoever holds the Demon Crown.
  • The Opening Scroll of Golden Axe Warrior tells of a kingdom named Firewood, which, when ultimately betrayed to the Big Bad, "quickly fell and was burned." Isn't firewood supposed to be for felling and burning?
  • Lampshaded in Diablo III by Bron the Barkeep with regards to naming New Tristram after a city destroyed by demons, undead, and an insane king.
    "See, the problem is they never should have named this place New "Tristram." We wouldn't be getting attacked all the time if we were called, oh, I don't know, New Wellington, would we?"
  • In Quake IV the convoys carrying the bomb to destroy the Strogg Nexus were called War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. As this takes place early in the game while Kane is still a human, the results speak for themselves: the former three were destroyed as they were being carried, while a Harvester inutilizes the fourth.
  • The description for the Onslaught map "Icarus Plaza" in Unreal Tournament 2004, which takes place atop a series of big, abandoned skyscrapers:
    "Soaring 3 miles above Earth's surface, Icarus Plaza was designed to be the ultimate residential precinct. But like its namesake, ambition for the project exceeded caution. Even before the project was completed, significant structural flaws were detected and the buildings were abandoned."
  • The majority of the game in Alien: Isolation takes place on The Sevastopol Station...named after the city in Ukraine that was under siege during the Crimean War that was almost wiped out by diseases brought in by outsiders.
  • Mario Party 5: The Random Ride minigame features vehicles with negative names like "Totally Terrible," "Nothing's Right," and "Difficulties Ahead." Downplayed in that, from time to time, these vehicles actually prevail over vehicles with positive names.
  • Of the many games that have had a Release Date Change due to the COVID pandemic, one game happened to be aptly titled Rainbow Six: Quarantine. Unsurprisingly, it was eventually renamed to Rainbow Six Extraction.
  • Observation: Bad things happen on the Low Orbit Space Station. The LOSS.

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Parodied during a conversation between an AI-controlled, damaged, semi-kamikaze ship and the central computer.
      The rogue: Any last words?
      Predictably Damaged V: Make sure you don't skimp on fire extinguishing foam when you build Predictably Damaged VI. Oh and.. [Explodes]
      Narrator: Humans would pick a new name after five losses. The rogue appreciates humorous irony too much for that.
    • Battleplates, ships whose military purpose includes stopping high-velocity asteroid colony drops, are named after asteroid impacts.
  • Lampshaded in Two Evil Scientists when Sonic meets Vile:
    Sonic: Wait a second here, this guy's name is Vile?
    Mega Man X: Yeah!
    Sonic: When they named him, were they trying to make a Maverick?
  • Happens in Duke Forecastle, one of Erfworld's side stories. The first five paragraphs describe the flagship HMS Superbia commanded by Royal Lord Admiral Hubris Unsinkable setting sail to enemy territory, no-one gets to hear about the ship or the admiral again. The succeeding flagship gets named HMS Hubris Unsinkable, sharing the same fate, and the one succeeding it HMS Hubris Unsinkable II. A lampshade is hung on the trope latter when a character comments that naming a ship HMS Hubris Unsinkable III would be completely out of question.
  • In Solar System, which takes place in the far future, one character is a dog named Strelka... because you do not want to name a space dog "Laika". She also shoots down another character's suggestion to name a new shuttle "Challenger", reminding him what happened to the original space shuttle Challenger.
  • In Short Packed, Mr. and Mrs. Bean (no, not that one) are fundamentalist Christians, and are homophobic. This is much to the disappointment of their lesbian daughter Leslie. Near the end of the comic's run, Leslie's fiancee Robin calls them out on this, naming their daughter Leslie Bean. Apparently, it's a family name.
  • In the roleplays of White Dark Life, Arthur and Cassandra's youngest son is named Mordred, against the advice of their friends. Fast-forward 10 years, and he kidnaps a girl, rapes her repeatedly, and damn near kills his father when he hunts him down to stop him. Thankfully, Mordred cleans up his act after being sent to jail, even befriending the girl he raped when he saves her life... then he becomes extremely overprotective of her and his family, to the point of being fully willing to straight-up MURDER anyone who hurts them in any way... Luigifan says it best:
    Luigifan: What did you think you'd get when you named him after the guy who killed King Arthur? A model citizen?
  • In Commander Kitty, is it really surprising that "Project Zenith", designed to eliminate imperfections in the galaxy, resulted in Zenith herself (the android assistant to the lead creator) going mad, declaring herself the Ultimate Life Form, and attempting to conquer the galaxy to make it as perfect as she is?
  • League of Super Redundant Heroes: Flying-Fox Man (a Batman Captain Ersatz) shouldn't be so surprised that he'd lost a lot of sidekicks... ahem... "crime-solving junior partners" when you consider that they were all named "Dodo"...

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Used as part of Spoony's spoof of Final Fantasy VIII, where the people of America vote Dr. Insano into the White House. He even lampshades it himself by asking what the hell they expected, voting for a guy who calls himself "Insano".
  • Noob is a about a MMORPG guild named Noob by its founder. Guess what kind of players its membership ended up consisting of.
  • On Brows Held High, Kyle Kallgren complains about Melancholia on how NASA names a giant planet that will probably destroy Earth with such a negative name. He even suggests alternatives such as "Happy Fun Ball".
  • During one of Vinesauce streamer Joel's The Sims 3 hacking streams, he named the child of his hideous Pikachu-man "Missingno". The face proceeded to become a stream of polygons that engulfed the entire map, with the texture eventually glitching so much it started to bear an eerie resemblance to it's namesake.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • An episode is an entire Titanic pastiche. It takes place on a space cruise-liner named "Titanic". The spaceship resembles the original Titanic with added sci-fi bits tacked on. Naturally enough, by the end of the episode, it's sucked into a black hole. They even christened the ship with the head jar of Leonardo DiCaprio and he didn't warn them. Amusingly, nobody sees anything wrong with the name; after 1,000 years, it's not common knowledge. And when it comes to 20th-Century-born Fry's opinion, he's too much of a dumbass to know any better. Of course, none other than Captain Zapp Brannigan is repeatedly Tempting Fate.
      Kif Kroker: But that leads us straight through a comet field!
      Zapp Brannigan: Ah, yes. Comets, the icebergs of the sky.
    • There was also the Land Titanic, the world's largest land vehicle. It sank on 7th Avenue after hitting a mailbox. This took place before the spaceship Titanic, so surely the ones who made the spaceship should have still had suspicions about the name.
    • Mixed with Gone Horribly Right, there was "Project Satan", an attempt to create a super-intelligent (but evil) car. What went wrong? Well, the car was pure evil.
  • DuckTales, "The Uncrashable Hindentanic" went for the Double Dog-Dare with an airship named the Hindentanic.
  • In one episode of Family Guy, Peter jumps up shouting "Quick, to the Petercopter!, and immediately crashes a helicopter with his face on the front lawn of his neighbor Joe. A few scenes later, the situation repeats itself with Peter shouting "To the Hindenpeter!" and all we get to see is a zeppelin with Peter's face passing by through the window with exactly the results you would expect.
    Peter: Joe, I am sooo sorry!
  • Transformers has an in-universe example: the villain of every series, Megatron, is named after the Transformer equivalent of Judas Iscariot, although it varies from series to series whether it's the name he was created with or if he chose it as a symbol of rebellion against a corrupt government. Either way, it somehow still surprises 'bots when he becomes He Who Fights Monsters and ends up more evil than the villains he started out fighting.
  • In an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy creates a robotic salesman named the Willy Loman 3000 to sell chocolate bars. To the surprise of no-one who gets the reference, it turns out to be smarmy and incompetent, only capable of making sales by giving away inventions far more valuable than the candies along with them.
  • Notably averted in The '70s Sunday-Morning cartoon Davey and Goliath. Goliath was Davey's talking dog. (Of course, calling them "Samson and Delilah" would probably have worked too, because the two characters here didn't resemble the Biblical ones in the slightest.)
  • Also completely averted with Goliath from Gargoyles. It's not his real name (his species doesn't use personal names) but is what humans have always called him. Still, being associated with the name doesn't seem to have caused him any more trouble than any other member of the group. He does end up in conflict with a man named David who is smaller than him, though.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot has some fun with this with Armagedroid. He was built during an alien invasion to stop Armageddon, but ends up nearly causing it later on (twice).

    Real Life 
  • Dreaming in Code: "Time to wonder if maybe we shouldn't have named our central server 'Kafka'."
  • After the success of the movie Titanic, someone tried to build a replica of the famous ship to cater to all the movie fans who wanted to have a romantic ocean cruise on a ship like that. They couldn't find enough investors willing to tempt fate that boldly. Until Australian millionaire Clive Palmer took on the project in 2012.
  • The "original" RMS Titanic. While it was given the name through theme naming after the generations of the Greek gods (its sister ships of the same class were named Olympic after the Olympians and Gigantic after the Gigantesnote ), the Titans were... not exactly what you wanted for auspicious names.
    • Consider: The Titans in Classical Mythology are most famous for being roundly defeated and sealed into Tartarus once Zeus and company came along. If they weren't imprisoned, they got lousy fates like holding up the sky for all eternity, or being chained to a rock with an eagle snacking on 'em for all eternity... or being married to Pandora, who released all evil on the world.
    • In 1898, a merchant seaman wrote a novel called Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan, about a giant cruiseliner called the Titan which is meant to be unsinkable, whose passengers include lots of famous and rich people, and on one of whose voyages in its first year of service — yes, across the Atlantic — it hits an iceberg in the middle of the night in April and sinks. And no, there weren't enough lifeboats for the characters in his story either.note 
    • There was a submersible named Titan used on tourist missions to explore the Titanic's wreckage. From the very start, it was noted to have an amateurish design, and the sub operated in international waters because it wasn't tested by any third parties... and then four passengers and its pilot died, because it was made to go 1500ft down but taken almost 4000ft down.
  • Throughout history, several people appeared to think that calling a car "Phaeton" is a good idea... Phaëton was the son of the Greek god Helios (although originally this referred to a type of coachwork rather than a specific model). He tried to drive his father's sun-chariot, lost control, and had to be shot down by Zeus before he crashed it into the world. Admittedly, the only case where it came literally true was the Phaeton carriage popular during The Regency, which was famous for its speed and its ability to get its drivers and random pedestrians killed.
    • The successor and/or downscaled model, Phideon, received infamy in the Chinese market because it sounds exactly like Feidian, the Chinese term for the SARS disease.
    • The most recent example would be VW's expensive luxury car from 2003, even though the brand is mostly known for its small economy cars, and the company also owns the Audi brand, which is actually a well known brand for large luxury cars, and Bentley, a famous British brand of hand-crafted, ultra-luxury cars. Unsurprisingly, the whole thing bombed because nobody who could afford one wanted to be seen in a VW; it was mostly made as an ego-stroking exercise by the then-head of VW.
  • Icarus, a bus; not very likely to melt down, but as for the "flying too far" part, bendy bus variants sometimes got nasty skidding (when not driven carefully).
    • Why did a bus company name themselves Icarus? Simple: They made airplanes originally, but that branch went bust.
    • Not that the buses were immune to catching fire either...
  • An-22 "Anteus". The Soviet transport plane named (in a fit of black humor?) after the giant who lost his strength when he was lifted from the ground. Its NATO reporting name is "Cock", one variant of which may rise, but the bird doesn't fly. One of the scientists working on the design of this plane said the name was chosen because it really did "take its power from the land", since refueling occurs, you know, on land.
  • Russians also named their most iconic brand of cigarettes, Belomorkanal, after a particularly murderous gulag forced labor project.
  • Various world navies have named their ships after losing battles or even past ships that have been destroyed (generally as a way to say "never forget").
    • The UK ship HMS Ark Royal was sunk in WWII; several design flaws were found to have contributed to the loss. This hasn't prevented the UK from naming two other ships the same name since; one was an Invincible class aircraft carrier.
      • Perhaps the most famous HMS Invincible was the first battlecruiser, built in 1907, shortly after HMS Dreadnought. During the Battle of Jutland, she failed to live up to her name and was sunk almost immediately after having been hit in the turret.
      • Although none of the other Ark Royals were lost in action and the very first one was the English flagship in the victorious battle against the Spanish Armada in 1588. And while most of the crew got off the World War II Ark Royal unhurt, the previous HMS Invincible, a battlecruiser, had an even more noticeable design flaw and blew up at Jutland with the loss of nearly the entire crew (there were just six survivors). Its successor, the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible, was bombed nearly to sinking point by the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air force, and escaped by the skin of its teeth, requiring two years' worth of rebuilding before it could fight again. note 
      • To add another layer to this, Invincible was the flagship of Admiral Hood, and there was the battlecruiser HMS Hood that was obliterated by the Nazi battleship Bismarck. However, in this case, it's a subversion: HMS Hood wasn't named for that particular Admiral Hood. Invincible was a particularly auspicious name to give to a battlecruiser, which are designed to be a Fragile Speedster compared to the more heavily armoured Mighty Glacier of a battleship.
    • The British Royal Navy has had four ships named Icarus, starting in 1814, and all of them continuing through their careers without serious problems. The fourth Icarus was an I-class destroyer, launched in 1936 and which participated for the duration of the Second World War, sinking four German U-Boats. It was decommissioned in 1946 and torn up for scrap in Scotland.
    • The pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee was named after a German admiral killed in the South Atlantic during a battle in the first year of World War I in which the cruiser squadron he commanded was annihilated. (The flagship of the victorious British fleet: the battlecruiser HMS Invincible). It came to grief in the battle of the River Plate in the South Atlantic in the first year of World War II.
    • The Imperial German Navy and the Federal German Navy had a total of four ships called Vineta, after a mythical coastal town that famously sank beneath the waves of the Baltic Sea. Almost as ominous as naming a ship or other kind of vessel Atlantis
    • The current flagship of the Italian Navy is the Cavour, named after Count Camillo Benso di Cavour, one of the fathers of Italian unity. A good name… Except the only other Italian warship with the same namesake was the RN Conte di Cavour, which, after a calm career in World War I and one as glorified royal yacht between the war, was sank by airplanes while in harbour, twice . With the first sinking inspiring the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (both done by carrier-launched torpedo planes in harbours deemed too shallow for air-launched torpedoes). And, to tempt fate even more, the modern Cavour is a carrier.
  • The Soviets named a battleship which they inherited from the Russian Empire after a French revolutionary who was killed in a bathtub. It was sunk (not permanently) three months after the Germans attacked.
  • The US Navy has a slightly morbid tradition of naming submarine classes for ships that sank (or at least it did before it decided to name them after states, cities, and sea monsters).note  This could be considered an attempt to turn this trope to a positive end: after all, you want a submarine to go underwater.
  • There seem to be a disturbingly large number of sports teams named after the residents of Troy…
    • Although according to Roman myth, the Trojan survivors became the first Romans. The same Romans who, in Real Life, built one of the largest empires in history and, notably, conquered Greece. So it could be seen as defeat just makes them come back stronger…
    • In at least one case (the University of Southern California), this is deliberate: the nickname was coined during a sporting match where the unlucky Trojans-to-be were getting slaughtered, but still kept struggling valiantly on.
    • Further, naming a brand of condoms after a city that was famously impregnated, let alone due to its people letting in something they shouldn't have, seems to be asking for trouble. Similarly, one of Durex's condom brands in North America was called Ramses — after a pharaoh who had over a hundred children.
  • Man names boat Titanic II; sinks before leaving harbour.
  • The huge and luxuriously-appointed ore freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald, among other nicknames, was called "The Titanic of the Great Lakes" by some. Yeah, about that...
  • There's a famous image around the net of the speedboat "Temporary Insanity II". He should have known better after the first time.
  • Although the car achieved commercial success, the AMC Gremlin has got to be a Tempting Fate honorable mention, being an iconic Alleged Car named for a mythical creature that destroys machinery.
  • The Hellenic Air Force Academy logo features Icarus.
    • The Royal Air Force's roundel is a bullseye. It only gets worse with the Royal New Zealand Air Force's roundel, which is a bullseye centered on a Kiwi, a type of flightless bird. Potentially borders on I Shall Taunt You.
  • The UK has a series of military satellites called Skynet of all things; however, they can be excused for starting the series and coming up with the name long before James Cameron started work on The Terminator.
  • The Tampa International Airport's parking garage has elevators named after various heroes of aviation…including Amelia Earhart.
  • Apollo 13 (and since then NASA has never launched a vehicle with "13" in the name — during the Shuttle program they changed the mission numbering system after STS-9, and then changed it back after the loss of the Challenger).
    • Bonus points: the command/service module (CSM) of Apollo 13 was named Odyssey. The craft was named after 2001: A Space Odyssey, but one definition of the word (as mentioned by Lovell's book Lost Moon) is "a long journey marked by many changes of fortune", as with the original Odyssey by Homer. This name proved prophetic when one of the CSM's oxygen tanks exploded, which put a leak in the other and eventually shut down the craft's power supply (not to mention its breathing oxygen). It took a great deal of ingenuity and hard work by the astronauts and the ground crews to bring the astronauts home, making the entire trip fit the dictionary definition of "odyssey". (And the story is known for the main character making it back home...)
    • STS-113 flew without major incident, but due to schedule changes it was actually the 112th Shuttle mission. The next flight, the 113th, was STS-107, when the Columbia was lost on reentry.
    • The 13th targeted flybynote  of Saturn's moon Titan by the Cassini spacecraft, in 2006, ended with the probe being hit by a cosmic ray and a good chunk of the data gathered by it in that flyby lost.
  • There's an urban legend in the British Royal Navy that says the Admiralty decided to disprove one of the Navy's most cherished superstitions, namely that Friday is an unlucky day to set sail. Not only did they christen a ship HMS Friday, but they had her keel laid on a Friday, and she was commanded by a Captain Friday. The myth continues that the ship disappeared without a trace during the shakedown cruise.
  • There's a comforter set called the Othello. Presumably the intention was to name it after the game rather than the original play, and for those that don't know, the climax involves Othello smothering his wife to death in their bed after being thoroughly hoodwinked by his smarmy, deceptive, ambitious flagbearer.
  • There's also a set of bedroom furniture aimed at little girls. The name of the set? Lolita.
  • Speaking of Lolita, Nabokov has claimed that he's singlehandedly responsible for the disappearance of Lolita as a girl's name, averting this trope.
  • In a very similar vein, Adolf was a somewhat common name in the German-speaking world up until it fell out of popularity for some strange reason in the thirties/forties. Which is why Adolf Dassler's shoe company is named after his diminutive (Adi) rather than his full name.
  • Following a decade of managerial complications and enormous financial loss following its "merger of equals" with Chrysler, Daimler AG decided in 2007 to sell the company to a certain Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.
  • Speaking of Chrysler, the company had the brilliant idea to introduce a sport utility vehicle called the Aspen (a rebodied Dodge Durango) in 2007. Apparently, they forgot that the Dodge Aspen was not one of the company's best received cars. The Chrysler Aspen was discontinued in 2009.
  • Fury was an experimental steam locomotive designed to run on high-pressure steam. True to its name, Fury's high pressure caused its tubes to burst and kill the engineer.
  • For a twofer, there's a Japanese company called Cyberdyne, whose most famous project is a powered exoskeleton, but they thankfully decided not to name it any variatiion of "Terminator"... they named it "HAL" instead (Hybrid Assistive Limb).
  • Windows-NT has an important file containing the standard drivers that the kernel needs to work (the first file loaded by the bootloader), similar to the IO.SYS on DOS. How is it called? HAL.DLL — Hardware Abstraction Layer.
  • If somewhere in time mankind would travel to other planets or their moons this trope may be invoked with the gods the planets are named after. Mars — the god of war; Saturn — the maneating Eldritch Abomination; Pluto — the god of the Underworld.... It gets even nastier if you look at the names of some moons. Pluto's moon Charon — the ferryman of the dead. Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos are the gods of horror and terror. To be fair, the more visible planets were dubbed in times when they were really assumed to be gods and the other ones were simply keeping up the tradition. Not to mention that Pluto's features, newly mapped by the New Horizons flyby in 2015, are now being named for entities and place-names in H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
  • USS Harold E. Holt. Why? it was named after an Australian Prime Minister who famously disappeared at sea.
  • During World War II, the primary aerial torpedo used by the US Navy was the Mark 13, which was infamous for its finicky and unreliable nature. It had to be dropped from low altitude at low speed in level flight, often against a heavily defended enemy ship, and once dropped, there was no guarantee that the torpedo wouldn't break up, sink, porpoise about randomly on the surface, drift wildly off target or sail in circles, etc. Even worse, it wasn't at all unheard of for a Mark 13 to be successfully deployed, only for it to hit the target square on and do nothing, because hitting the target directly would damage the trigger instead of setting it off. Other American torpedoes of the time, designed for launch from submarines and surface warships, were little betternote  All of these problems were corrected in later versions after a few months of experience, leading to a much more effective weapon.
  • Comedian Paul McDermott joked that the Australian Navy's expensive and problematical Collins-class submarines "were actually named after singer Phil Collins — because they're crap, but very popular."
  • The Chevy Nova was said to have sold poorly in Spanish speaking countries as the Spanish phrase "no va" means "doesn't go". As explains, this is pure myth. Not only would a spanish speaker not read "Nova" as "no va" any more than an English speaker would read "Notable" as "no table," not only is nova an actual Spanish word (meaning the same thing as its English cognate), the real kicker is that there's no failure for this supposed naming goof to explain. The Nova sold just fine in Latin America.
  • Another example relative to cars and Spanish language: the Mitsubishi Pajero SUV was renamed Montero in Spain and America because "pajero" is the spanish term for "wanker".
  • Brown University's "Sex Power God" party was started in 1986, and actually survived for two decades without a hitch while maintaining the school's free-spirited identity. In recent years, however, the name has caused it to degenerate, so much that it was cancelled in 2014. As one of the original organizers said, "Calling the dance Sex Power God was a liberationist act, a f*** you to those who thought sex, power or god belonged to them not us, and a good joke." As the story shows, it's become anything but.
  • One of the tallest residential buildings in the world is called "The Torch". In 2015 it caught fire.
  • Guns N' Roses decided to title their sixth studio album Chinese Democracy. Depending on how one interprets the title, it can be taken to mean "A dramatic and powerful shift in the status quo" or "Something that will probably never happen". The latter interpretation became a bit prophetic when the album hit a notoriously Troubled Production, with one of the worst cases of Schedule Slip in rock n' roll history: it took an entire decade to record, it set a Guinness World Record for the most expensive album production of all time, and the band spent eight years promoting it on tour before it was actually released. Before it finally hit shelves in 2008, some fans understandably doubted whether it would ever come out. This led to many an Obligatory Joke that there would be actual democracy in China before Chinese Democracy was finished.
  • Just to complete the picture of sea-going bodies being particularly prone to this, the head of the US Fleet was initially known as Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet or... CINCUS. If you can't see the problem, try saying it out loud. The issue was recognised (the Navy tried to insist it should be pronounced 'kinkus') but it was brushed off. Then Pearl Harbor happened. And suddenly it seemed rather grotesque. The name was changed shortly thereafter.
  • An urban legend claims that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is named for the Ukrainian word for "wormwood", which figures into a passage from the Book of Revelationnote  about a star called Wormwood falling to Earth and poisoning the world's waters. This one actually gained a lot of traction among Biblical prophecy enthusiasts in The '80s, who claimed that the Chernobyl meltdown was a fulfillment of that prophecy (as St. John would've had no reference point for a nuclear explosion, he would've recognized it as a star) and that the end times were imminent. The truth is that Chernobyl was named not for the wormwood plant (whose Ukrainian name is polyn), but for mugwort, a relative of wormwood (and of course, meltdowns don't result in Hiroshima-style nuclear explosions).
  • Today I Went Up in Flames, a Yonkoma manga about a girl who tries to stir controversy due to learning there's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, itself "went up in flames" in mid-2018 due to some inflammatory remarks on the author's Twitter account. Also crosses into Irony territory, as the bad publicity the series got in response caused Houbunsha to cancel it.
  • The battle of Peleliu was one of the bloodiest and most protracted (and pointless) campaigns in the pacific theater of WWII. After an initial successful landing, American forces then faced months and months of guerilla warfare courtesy of stronger than expected Japanese forces. Its American code-name was Operation Stalemate II.
  • Duke Nukem Forever's name proved to be prophetic regarding the length of its development. There was also much amusement to be had in its initials; in some contexts DNF stands for Did Not Finish. Although this was eventually averted.
  • The two ships on the doomed Franklin Expedition (an 1845 attempt to find the Northwest Passage, that resulted in the deaths of everyone involved) were named the Erebus (Greek for 'darkness') and the Terror. Both were war vessels repurposed for the expedition, but why no one objected to those names is anyone's guess. Now there are two volcanoes there named after these ships...
  • Two of the original three big Coney Island theme parks, Dreamland in 1911 and Luna Park in 1944, burned down after a major attraction caught fire. Where did the fires start? Respectively, Hell Gate and Dragon's Gorge.
  • His Majesty's Airship No. 1, the first British rigid airship, was nicknamed "Mayfly" by its crew. It began construction in 1910 and snapped in half a little over a year later, and never actually flew.


Video Example(s):


Project Satan

The military made an intelligent car from the most evil cars in history (and KITT from Night Rider), dubbing it Project Satan. They're surprised when it turns out to be pure evil.

How well does it match the trope?

4.81 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhatDidYouExpectWhenYouNamedIt

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