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Apr 12th 2019 at 7:23:36 PM •••

I feel like this trope shouldn't apply to "textbook titles," where the content is mainly informational or biographical. In those cases, it's so common for the title to dryly describe what it's about that this is nearly an Omnipresent Trope; this is noted in the Literature section but it also lists a needlessly large number of examples, and similar cases crop up elsewhere, such as the Webcomic entry about a chapter called "The History Of Nintendo." Not sure whether to just delete stuff like that, or not.

Oct 8th 2018 at 4:20:05 AM •••

I wanted to add an example to the fanfic folder of the in-universe section, but the article is somehow always edit-locked. I don't know whether I'm not authorised to edit this particular page or the page is just always being edited.

In case it's the former, the example is from the mlp:fim fanfic "Severe Weather Appreciation Week" ( The quote that contains the example is: " They called it, as Rainbow insisted, “Severe Weather Appreciation Week.” It seemed like a pretty easy concept to Rainbow Dash: you have severe weather, and you appreciate it. She wasn’t sure how much simpler she could make it.

“I don’t get it,” Rarity said. “Are you preventing the severe weather? Are we supposed to appreciate you for that?” "

Dec 13th 2013 at 12:33:32 AM •••

In Warhammer 40,000 there is a space ship, flagship of Warmaster of Chaos, the Planetkiller. Its main feature, as you can guess, is ability to blow up planets. Does that counts?

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Dec 13th 2013 at 8:37:04 AM •••

No. This is a trope about work titles.

Dec 14th 2013 at 9:53:55 PM •••

Than why do we have a list of in-universe examples that have nothing to do with titles?

Dec 20th 2013 at 2:01:45 PM •••

Seems I was wrong. Anyway, "Planetkiller" just tells you there is something that kills planets, but not what that something is. Doesn't count in my book.

Dec 10th 2013 at 3:35:59 AM •••

It's a real-life example, but there is a mall in St. Matthews, Kentucky that is named "The Mall." Sometimes to separated it from other malls in the area, it is called "The Mall in St. Matthews." Would it fit here, and where?

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Dec 10th 2013 at 8:41:18 AM •••

NVM. I put it in under A Dog Named "Dog"

Edited by
Aug 16th 2013 at 9:00:18 PM •••

I removed the following from the film section:

  • Pacific Rim: The reporting name of the first Kaiju is the pretty direct "Trespasser." There's also another Kaiju called Knifehead. Yeah try to figure out why it's called that.

These names are not indicative to anybody who isn't already familiar with the movie.

Dec 18th 2012 at 5:37:30 PM •••

How about "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil"

It's a show about Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. The BOPE is fairly self explanatory I should think. Todd is a high schooler that fights it. Is that enough or does the show title need to be "Todd fights the BOPE"?

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Madrugada MOD
Jun 12th 2013 at 11:20:41 AM •••

That's not an example. It doesn't tell you whether Todd fights the book, wants the book, is looking for the book, uses the book, writes the book or what. It simply is the two main "characters". "High Schooler Todd Fights The Book of Pure Evil" would be Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

Edited by
Jul 26th 2012 at 9:15:49 AM •••

I removed the following example from the Theatre section:

The title doesn't describe what the play is. A title like "English Without Toil" would certainly never inspire me to guess the play was based on dialogues from foreign language textbooks.

Jun 22nd 2012 at 9:41:29 AM •••

"No Real Life Examples, Please!. In Real Life, this is People Sit on Chairs; it doesn't carry any meaning, it's just how things are (usually) named. "

Really? "viagra" anyone? "iPod"? No, things are not that often named this way, at least no more than fictional works are, so the entire non-in-universe section would have to be deleted by this criterion.

To put it another way, Title examples ARE Real Life examples.

Edited by NimmerStill Hide/Show Replies
Aug 22nd 2012 at 11:23:00 AM •••

Yes, that is true. However, I added that so people wouldn't add examples along the lines of:

  • Blueberries. Berries that are blue.
  • New York City. The city of New York.
  • Banana. It's a banana.
Technically, every single single-morpheme noun is an example. A cat is a cat, a table is a table, an apple is an apple, and in general, A is A (the law of identity).

It is only when one puts two morphemes together that this stops being the case by default. While a banana is a banana, and a hammock is a hammock, a banana hammock is not a hammock made for, by, or of bananas. Still, an apple tree is a tree on which apples grow.

It could also be argued that viagra is viagra, and therefore an example (again, the law of identity).

Allowing Real Life examples would validate any non-non-indicative noun as an example, which is obviously not useful.

I admit that the reason that was given is, indeed, humbug. However, as I started noticing examples such as these:

  • The Very Large Telescope in Europe.
  • The Smooth Green Snake. It's a snake, it's green, and it has smooth scales.
I figured it would be better to disallow Real Life examples and give a flimsy explanation as to why than to either
  1. Allow them, or
  2. Think up a well-articulated, valid explanation that would, by necessity, be very lengthy.

I hope I have explained my actions and the reasoning behind them satisfactorily.

Edited by TompaDompa
Aug 22nd 2012 at 12:25:55 PM •••

How about allowing it for things deliberately named via new coinages, like new commercial products, such as the viagra and iPod examples? That is, they would fit if they were called "Impotency Cure" and "High-Memory Music Player" respectively. This would be a superset of titles for works, which after all are simply a subtype of new products in general.

After all, if the concern is people saying "bananas are bananas", then why would the In-Universe section be safe from that either?

Edited by NimmerStill
Aug 23rd 2012 at 4:31:24 PM •••

Commercial products go under advertising. Neologisms go on the Shaped Like Itself page if they are redundant, and nowhere if they are not. This page would risk becoming a dictionary of words one does not need a dictionary to understand if we put them here.

I think it's obvious that nouns aren't useful examples. The names of people would be Flame Bait ("Alexander the Great was not great at all!") and/or useless ("John the Baptist was a baptist named John"). One should also note that saying that there is nothing to a person beyond what can be inferred from the name is very reductive and inflammatory, i.e. bad style. The names of places could be valid examples, I guess. Those could be put under a new category: Geography. The names of products already go under advertising. The names of works are sorted by medium, as always. I'm probably forgetting something, but those are at least the arguably "real life" examples I can think of for now.

The "why would the In-Universe section be safe" bit is a fair point, I will admit. However, it simply doesn't seem to happen that often that people add such examples, for they would need to find someone in a work pointing out that bananas are indeed bananas.

Come to think of it, this page, Captain Obvious, Shaped Like Itself, and Department of Redundancy Department probably contain a lot of examples that actually belong on one of the others. This is probably something that should be brought up at the TRS when the current discussion is resolved.

Bottom line: Useful Real Life examples would go somewhere else. Useless ones we don't want.

EDIT: I suppose one could create folders for Geography, Biology, Politics, and other Real Life subjects if one comes up with examples. However, I don't think a Real Life category would be a good idea. It seems my decrying Real Life examples was too hasty a decision. I considered (as I still do) the category to be a bad idea (it would seem to validate virtually anything that isn't non-indicative as an example, as explained above), and assumed that the real life part was the problem, instead of the category part. This, in hindsight, seems to have been a grave error on my part. Mea culpa.

Edited by TompaDompa
Aug 23rd 2012 at 4:41:09 PM •••

Ok, as long as products can go somewhere, but technically, just naming a new product is not part of advertising it.

And given what we've just discussed, I think the justification for why No Real Life Examples Please should be a little less flippant.

Edited by NimmerStill
Aug 23rd 2012 at 4:56:53 PM •••

How about removing it from that index, and rephrasing it as "No Real Life Category, Please! It requires unnecessary maintenance. Instead, check to see if your example belongs in another category, such as Geography or Biology." or something to that effect?

Aug 23rd 2012 at 5:01:39 PM •••

I'm not sure I understand. Are you suggesting removing the whole Advertising section? (As in, the one that contains the Trope Namer?) And again, the entire Title section is also a Real Life Category. I think some examples do belong here.

Aug 23rd 2012 at 5:12:48 PM •••

Yes, that wasn't very clear at all, was it?

What I was trying to say was: How about removing Exactly What It Says on the Tin from the No Real Life Examples Please index, and rephrasing the current "No Real Life Examples, Please!" notice with something along the lines of what I wrote above.

Yes, it is true that Title examples are Real Life examples. That's another reason you're right and I was wrong. I think we should keep the current distinction as it is, though. When there was no such distinction, the page was kind of a mess (though that wasn't the only reason).

Aug 23rd 2012 at 5:26:16 PM •••

I agree about keeping the distinction. Titles seem to be a large portion of the examples after all. So ok, I get what you're saying now. Maybe the guideline should be something like "Only deliberately descriptive names of products count. All Real Life Examples go in Titles or Advertising section. This is not a trope for the names of things in general"? Something like that?

Aug 23rd 2012 at 5:29:07 PM •••

I'm not quite sure that everyone will understand the first sentence (it may seem a tad bit vague), but apart from that, I really like it.

Edited by TompaDompa
Aug 24th 2012 at 10:40:06 AM •••

What about "This trope is only for titles or names given deliberately by authors or marketers"?

Aug 24th 2012 at 11:01:40 AM •••

Perfect. Just added it.

I also removed Exactly What It Says on the Tin from the No Real Life Examples Please index.

Edited by TompaDompa
Oct 6th 2012 at 1:18:05 PM •••

How about the truck in this story?

I would prefer a reasonably detailed description of what makes something a good real life example than simply "it's too hard to define in one sentence, let's not bother". The key to me seems to be context - if most things in that class are not Exactly What It Says on the Tin then that thing is a good example. For instance I have no issue with the Smooth Green Snake if that is indeed its common name while other snakes' common names are called Wart Snakes or Asian Pipe Snakes. This contrasts with Shaped Like Itself in that a Smooth Green Snake is defined by three concepts that do not depend on the actual species (texture, color, and GENERAL biological category). It, like all good Tin examples, is the intersection of several clear preexisting concepts to describe a new work/object - the organization of concepts is hierarchical. Whereas "a snake is snake-shaped" is Shaped Like Itself - the organization is circular because neither the subject or the comparison object is a clear subset of the other.

But whatever. Sometimes this site just ain't worth it...

Oct 25th 2012 at 7:38:43 PM •••

After reading through the description yet again, I decided to weed out contradictions and stuff that didn't make sense. I found that the most important (and consistent) thing was "the title tells you all there is to the premise", basically.

As such, I think pretty much all non-fiction will have to be removed. Only fiction has a premise, it seems to me (I can't think of a counterexample, anyway).

What do you think?

May 4th 2012 at 10:45:45 PM •••

Why was Boku wa Imouto ni Koi o Suru removed? Is it because it doesn't have a trope page? Should I make a page for it? Would that satisfy conditions?

It's even listed on THE TOP of Brother–Sister Incest/Anime so ...

Mar 22nd 2012 at 12:37:13 PM •••

Is there a proper word for this concept, something defined by its name, like "blueberry"?

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Apr 13th 2012 at 9:51:48 AM •••

Technically, all words are like that. Compound words are just slightly more obvious.

But think about the word red. It describes the idea of red perfectly! Red=red, see? Blueberry is the same way. It's the word blue and the word berry. That is the name we gave the a berry that is blue. It is self-descriptive, because all words accurately describe the concept they are referring to, necessarily, by definition.

Mar 19th 2012 at 8:01:59 PM •••

Can someone tell me: Is it bad form to wick to this page for non-literal use? For example, on the page Essential Third Act Twists, I linked the icon "Death by Petard" (under the column Petard Hoist, and depicting someone being literally tossed about by a petard) to this page, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Is that bad form? Should I try Shaped Like Itself instead? Should I just try to redirect the link entirely?

Mar 14th 2012 at 7:00:11 AM •••

Okay, so I have a question: what is the difference between Exactly What It Says On The Tin and Shaped Like Itself? I've seen them used in similar situations without any distinguishing pattern, and my computer isn't letting me search for Shaped Like Itself, so I can't clarify that way. Can anyone help?

Jan 21st 2012 at 6:26:47 PM •••

What happened to the 'Real Life' section of this trope??

Sep 19th 2011 at 1:04:54 PM •••

Deep frier entry makes no sense. The name comes from 'deep frying' a specific cooking technique of frying something by submerging it in hot fat. It the object in question is small you can fry it in a shallow pan. As the author of the entry clearly didn't understand its meaning, it definitely does not belong here.

The perfume entry in 'Real Life' section also does not belong here. Sure, its name says 'Lily of the Vale', but it is not Lily of the Vale (a common plant with minute white bell-like flowers) but the perfume (an oily liquid in a glass container. Said perfume would belong here if they were named 'Lily of the Valley scented perfume'.

Mar 30th 2011 at 10:37:19 PM •••

Why, in the name of God, are people describing their entries? Here's a clue: If it needs description, it doesn't belong.

Jan 4th 2011 at 7:45:36 AM •••

I would like to propose, in the name of comedy, that the title non indicative name and this title be switched.

Dec 16th 2010 at 8:36:22 AM •••

We need a folder for TV Tropes Wiki.

Sep 26th 2010 at 10:33:17 PM •••

Just removed this from Western Animation:

  • Avatar the Last Airbender is about the Last Airbender (named Aang) who is also the Avatar. Simple, no?
    • No, not so simple. The title doesn't explain what an airbender is, why he's the Avatar, or anything about what he's doing. This fails the "ask neighbor to describe it in one sentence" test.
    • "Avatar: The Last Airbender is about a boy named Aang who is the last of some people who bend air." It's that simple.

As well as the Natter involved, the first reply got it right — I for one, despite hearing a lot about this series, have no idea what an airbender is, why Aang is the last one, why he's the Avatar (assuming he's the Avatar and not just an avatar), or even what "avatar" means in this context (there are several possibilities). Totally non-indicative.

Edited by robertfm Hide/Show Replies
May 21st 2011 at 7:00:06 AM •••

It's not exactly non-indicative, but it's not a binary thing. Most of the examples on the page seem to be under the impression that everything in the world should either be sorted under this or under Non-Indicative Title.

Aug 26th 2010 at 5:18:24 AM •••

I know this comes about six months late, but did you not like the Penny Arcade line? I thought it was appropriate.

Apr 2nd 2010 at 12:08:57 AM •••

I'm new here, but are Iceland and Greenland real life subversions?

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Dec 28th 2010 at 3:17:45 AM •••

Well, they were really specifically named to create the impression that they were something they were not. Iceland was named to discourage people from landing there, and Greenland was to encourage people to move there.

Sep 19th 2011 at 1:09:40 PM •••

Greenland was actually relatively green when it was first colonized by Norsemen, at least in the southern parts where the migrants came. Iceland is a valid point though as when it was named, the climate there was even warmer than today.

Mar 17th 2010 at 11:05:23 AM •••

This page needs a drastic overhaul. A good 75% or more of the titles do not actually fall under the trope. Just because they describe something that actually exists in the film or show does not mean that they even remotely describe the plot.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: That is exactly what happens. 8 Heads in a Dufflebag: Does not tell you anything about the story except for that there's a dufflebag with 8 heads in it.

From the entry: " title should tell you what a movie, show, or episode of a show is about. Sometimes, though, the premise or plot of the story is all right there in the title. That's when you can say that the story is Exactly What It Says On The Tin."

In Zack and Mirri Make a Porno, clearly you can tell that two characters, named Zack and Mirri, spend time making a Pornographic film.

In Edward Scissorhands, ok so there's a guy named Edward, who apparently has scissors for hands, but I have no idea what happens to him?

Just having a noun in the title that also appears in the movie does not make it fall under the trope.

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Apr 10th 2010 at 11:44:01 PM •••

I've tried trimming the examples a little, and I put a note in the description to differentiate this from Spoiler Title — just saying that "Bob dies!" in the episode title might be a spoiler, but it doesn't really tell you everything about the contents. Things that qualify for this trope should be almost comically complete descriptions — the kind of thing you could picture an executive using to summarize the entire pitch for the show, movie, or whatever in one line. Speed Racer may be about a speedy racer, but you can't meaningfully summarize it with just those two words, so it isn't this trope.

Aug 14th 2010 at 12:58:25 AM •••

I think the review of The Lair Of The White Worm might actually be a subversion, since although it tries to deduce what the film is about from the title, it gets it very wrong.

Dec 28th 2010 at 7:07:56 AM •••

Even the caption; snakes on a plane — I thought at first it was a nature documentary. You know like there is a family of snakes on a plane and — I dunno maybe the croc hunter has to remove them safely?

Sep 19th 2011 at 1:34:06 PM •••

Well, I would gladly do the overhaul (or at least remove the most senseless entries) but that would mean destrying someone's work and I don't know how such severe arbitrary moderation of the content is treated by other users.

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