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Many works utilize a definite article in their titles. Usually, this refers to a specific instance of the noun following the article, such as The Mask referring to a specific, special mask. This is in stark contrast to the use of indefinite articles, which usually refer to the general or abstract concept of a given noun, such as "a mask" being any ol' mask.

Using a definite article (e.g. "the" in English, "das" in German, etc.) can have a number of meanings, but its use always marks the noun as important. A definite article preceding a noun phrase can...

  • ... refer to a specific instance of something (e.g. The Mask).
  • ... highlight the event's or object's special-ness (e.g. The Fly (1986)).
  • ... imply that the given noun is a perfect example of itself (e.g. The Terminator).
  • ... imply celebrity, when preceding a character's name or title (e.g. The Tick).
  • ... imply that there is only one event, object, or creature (e.g. The Thing (1982)).

See also Spell My Name with a "The". A sister trope to The Titling, which is when the word after the article is a gerund, e.g. "The Writing", referring to the occurrence of an action.

The Noun Who Verbed and The Title Saga are subtropes.


The Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    The Asian Animation 
  • The Autobots, a Chinese knock-off of Cars.
  • Two of the official English Happy Heroes episode titles follow this naming convention.
    • Season 8 episode 3, "The Transformer".
    • Season 8 episode 29, "The Pretender".

    The Comic Books 

    The Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side collections with indexes feature sections for each letter of the alphabet. However, every letter but "T" is blank, as each comic is identified as "The one with the [x]".

    The Fan Works 

    The Animated Films 

    The Live-Action Films 

    The Literature 
  • The Alice Network begins in "the."
  • The Animorphs series is a well-known example. Every single one of the regular Animorphs books (not all of the Megamorphs books do this) was prefaced by the word The. This series provided many of the title examples above.
    K.A. Applegate: I wanted all the book titles to start with the word "Cheese," but Scholastic has no respect for my opinions.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events has this for all books in the series, followed by a pair of alliterative words for all but the last one.
  • Five of the twelve books in Galaxy of Fear. It's odd in light of how Clones and Spore are One Word Titles, but there is also The Hunger, The Brain Spiders, The Swarm, The Doomsday Ship...
  • H. P. Lovecraft was really found of The The Titles. Maybe two thirds of the titles in his fiction bibliography belongs to this category.
  • So is John Grisham.
  • The Order of Melkizedek, by Nick Joaquin
  • This is not exclusive to English texts: Portuguese epic Os Lusíadas (literally the Lusiad) is always written with its article in the title, with a beginning capital. So what do we do when we need to use another article before it? We contract it. (n'Os Lusíadas).
  • Oksa Pollock did this with the French original titles, whose articles are 'La', 'Le' and 'Les', contracted to 'L'', and the English translations of them. The only exception is the English name of the fourth book, Tainted Bonds:
    • French:
      • L'Inespérée (2007)
      • La forêt des égarés (2010)
      • Le coeur des deux mondes (2011)
      • Les liens maudits (2012)
      • Le règne des félons (2012)
      • La dernière étoile (2013)
    • English:
      • The Last Hope (2013)
      • The Forest of Lost Souls (2014)
      • The Heart of Two Worlds (2015)
  • The Lord of the Rings and all the books in the series have "The" prefacing the title: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King. Then of course, there's also The Hobbit and The Silmarillion.
  • Most of James Fenimore Cooper's novels have titles conforming to this pattern, starting with The Spy (1821) and ending with The Ways of the Hour (1850). Of those that don't, many have a secondary title that does, such as Lionel Lincoln: or The Leaguer of Boston, Homeward Bound: or The Chase: A Tale of the Sea, and Wyandotte: or The Hutted Knoll.
  • The Ring
  • The Golem by Gustav Meyrink. However, each chapter has a One-Word Title, which are all just one syllable long (in the original German). This includes "Schlaf", "Tag", "I", "Prag" etc.
  • The Beast Player

    The Live-Action TV 

    The Music 
  • On Gileah & the Ghost Train's self-titled album, every song title begins with The. Their order on the album is also alphabetical order. At least one song apparently had its name changed to fit the theme: "The Shadow"'s demo version was originally called "All I Need".
  • There was a band in The '80s that was actually called The The.
  • Every song on Nits' album Les Nuits (except the title track, and that's just the same thing in French).
  • Many operas: The Marriage of Figaro, The Thieving Magpie, The Cloak, etc. An aversion: Tosca is the opera; The Tosca is the play on which it is based.
  • Many of Iron Maiden's song titles feature this naming theme, i.e. "The Nomad," "The Alchemist," "The Fugitive," etc.
  • The title of every song on The Agonist's album Five (except the bonus track, a cover of "Take Me To Church").
  • An extremely common convention across many genres for band names: The Beatles, The Bee Gees, The Supremes, The White Stripes, The Lumineers, etc. In each case, the "the" conveys that the band is unique, with similar connotations to "The one, the only, the X...", a treatment many bands also get.

    The Podcasts 

    The Radio 
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Refers to a text that characters use for advice on space travel, and which is frequently quoted to provide snarky exposition on the world. The "the" enhances the book's claims of being an authoritative text, implying it's the only one that matters.

    The Sports 
  • It's been said that Cleveland is the Butt-Monkey town of American sports for how many of their inglorious losses can be summed with a "The *":The Catch, The Drive, The Decision, The Move, The Shot... To the point the eventual championship in 2016 with the Cavaliers became "The Comeback" (the Cavs overcame a 3-1 series deficit, the only time that's happened in an NBA Finals), or "The Block" (LeBron James' block of a shot attempt in the dying minutes of the game to preserve the Cavs' lead), or simply "The End".
  • Ice hockey has not one but two blockbuster trades starting with "The". In keeping with Canadian language policy, one is in English et on est en français:
    • "The Trade" is the Edmonton Oilers trading Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988 just days after the Oilers won their fourth Stanley Cup championship in five years, the Oilers facing dire financial straits and unable to continue paying all their stars' salaries being the proximate cause. This one was so impactful there were calls in the Canadian Parliament to block it.
    • "Le Trade" is the Montreal Canadiens sending Patrick Roy to the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 after months of friction between Roy and Canadiens coach Mario Tremblay came to blows after Tremblay left Roy in the game during an 11-1 rout by the Detroit Red Wings. Roy would help lead the Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup championship mere months after the team moved into Colorado from Quebec City.

    The Tabletop Games 

    The Theatre 

    The Video Games 

    The Web Animation 

    The Webcomics 

    The Web Original 

    The Web Videos 
  • The Bike
  • The Guild
  • The Haunting
  • LoadingReadyRun has named every single one of their Crap Shots (literally hundreds by now and still counting) starting with "the". Some of their normal sketches fell under this, too, but it's a deliberate tradition for the Crap Shots.

    The Western Animation 


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