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  • Possibly ur-example: Frankenstein is not the name of the monster, but the last name of his creator.
    • It didn't help that the film Bride of Frankenstein involves "brides" for both Frankenstein himself and the monster, but the monster bride is way, way, more famous and associated with the film. Likewise, the title Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein appears to use the name for the monster. However, the mistake exists in the title alone; in the film itself he's always simply called "the monster."
      • The sequel/remake, The Bride, from 1984 plays with this; the Monster is given the name "Viktor", the creator's first name, by circus dwarf Rinaldo -- "He will win his heart's desire". (Strangely, the doctor -- played by Sting -- is given the first name "Charles" in this film.)
      • The indie parody song "Ugly Girl" manages to get this right: "I'm a relation, to Frankenstein's creation "
    • Possibly possibly possibly justified by Frankenstein being the creator's last name -- presumably, if the monster has a last name, then it is also Frankenstein. It's questionable whether or not a writer puts this much thought into it, though. Presumably then his name would be "Adam Frankenstein".
      • Grant Morrison did; he used it in one of his issues of Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein. A throwaway line between the eponymous hero and the Bride has him admitting that he did indeed eventually take his creator's name.
      • The novelization of Van Helsing also uses this justification, with the monster itself requesting to be called by the name, as it considers itself the doctor's "son".
      • In the comedy sketch Lee and Herring's Reasonably Scary Monsters one character nitpicks the creator/monster issue, and the other claims the trope is justified because the monster could have been named after the creator. The nitpicker claims that's ridiculous, and insists on using "Frankenstein's monster", as well as "Mr. Hoover's electric vacuum cleaner" and "The Earl of Sandwich's egg between two slices of bread snack".
      • Frankenstein as a brand name? I don't buy the cheap reanimated corpse monsters. No, sir, I'm getting an authentic top-of-the-line Frankenstein! I'll teach it how to drive my Ford, and fix my Maytag, and I'll get him some Jordans to wear.
      • This was the argument used to justify the title of the movie Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in the comic Major Bummer (itself an example of the trope, as the title sounds like the super-hero name of the slacker main character but isn't). One character points out that Frankenstein doesn't even appear in the movie.

 Lou: See, Marnie, this worries me, 'cause what's happening here is that you've bought into the highbrow snobbery that pollutes all Frankensteinalia. And that ain't right. Yeah, the doc's named Frankenstein. No $#!+ ! So let's think about this a sec. If the doc created the monster, and he did, that makes the monster like his son, right?

Marnie: I guess.

Lou: Then there it is for you. Frankenstein is the monster's last name. Just like his daddy.

Marnie: What? That has to be the stupidest... okay, what's his first name then?

Lou: C'mon, use your head! Did Michelangelo need a first name? Did Liberace?

      • Of course, "Michelangelo" was his first name; his last name was Buonarotti.
    • Mary Shelley herself supposedly referred to the monster as "Adam" during reading of her novel. This moniker is almost never used in adaptations, though allegedly it was in the original cut of the movie. In the book itself, the Monster at one point says that he has no name.
      • May very well not have - although the name 'Adam' was applied to the creature, it may have be done so as a, well, as a unit designation. Doc Frankenstein was so hyped up on the 'playing God' part, (or so runs the story I've heard) that he decreed his creation to be 'The new Adam of a new human race!' Or, in other words, 'Adam' is a title, loosely meaning 'prototype', rather than a name.
      • Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured, in its fourth season, a Big Bad that was essentially a super-intelligent Frankenstein's monster. (Mind you, the original monster was also super-intelligent.) Its name was Adam, a direct reference to this.
        • And two seasons later, the Big Bad was played by an actor named Adam. Coincidence? Yeah, probably...
      • The Ravenloft setting for Dungeons and Dragons also features Adam, the creation of mad scientist Victor Mordenheim. As you may have guessed, they are essentially Captain Ersatzes of Victor Frankenstein and his monster.
      • Also, the Marvel version of the monster occasionally uses the name Adam.
      • Promethean: The Created has the Monster going under the name "Mr. Verney", the lead character of Shelley's other novel, The Last Man.
      • The 1994 film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein gives the monster the title "The Reanimant".
      • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein remake/homage has the monster take on the name Ducalion, which is the name of a son of the mythological Prometheus. The subtitle of Shelly's book is "The Modern Prometheus."
      • Dark Shadows featured a Frankenstein's monster-esque character, created as a vessel to store a vampire curse and cure another character's vampirism. He was named Adam, and later even got a lover created for him named Eve..
    • Both The Simpsons and a TV Land commercial for The Munsters committed the trope even further by referring to Herman Munster as "a Frankenstein," implying that it is the name for a type of monster.
      • Victor von Gerdenheim, from the Darkstalkers series of games, is based on the creature, named after the scientist, and his character type is indeed "Frankenstein's Monster". But shouldn't he be "Gerdenheim's Monster"?
        • Kamen Rider Kiva gives this an odd twist with the Franken, an entire race of monsters modeled on Frankenstein's creation. They aren't even artificial creatures; they're just a naturally-occurring race of big, slow, strong creatures with an affinity for lightning.
    • Looking at it from a different angle, not technically part of this trope but on the subject: Many people believe that Frankenstein is the monster. Frankenstein's "monster" is a victim of a man who tried to play God but didn't live up to his responsibilities to the life he had created. Sounds pretty monstrous to me.
      • Parodied mercilessly in an Fantastic Four comics, where team is travelling world of fiction and, while being powerless, ecounter Dracula. Being currently powerless, Ben tries to use power of imagination and summon Frankenstein's monster to fight Dracula, but makes that mistake and ends up summoning doctor Frankenstein.
        • Which suggests some form of higher intelligence at work within that universe, but it still wouldn't make sense. Ben's imagination would have visualized the monster in association with the word. It would be like Gozer not being able to materialize the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ray's thoughts because the mascot has a different official name.
  • "Inferno" is the first (and most famous) part of Dante Alighieri's epic poem, "Divine Comedy" This part of the poem and in particular its images of Hell is often referred to as Dante's "Inferno", but people often take this to mean that the whole poem is titled "Dante's Inferno", assuming Dante to be a character or other part of the narrative, rather than the writer.
    • Of course, Dante is a character in the story, but that just makes it more confusing.
    • Then there's the fact that the word "Inferno" is nowadays always associated with fire and flames, whereas in Italian it simply means "under ground".
  • The Lord of the Rings is Sauron, the Big Bad, not any of the heroes in the series. This misunderstanding is already cleared up in the book: Pippin at one point calls Frodo the "Lord of the Ring", only to be hastily corrected by Gandalf -- the One Ring serves only one master and bends all others to his will. Frodo later titles the Red Book of Westmarch as The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King. The popular live-action film version also pointed this out ("There is only one Lord of the Rings, and he does not share power"), so there's probably less confusion on this one nowadays.
    • The first episode of the 1981 BBC Radio version begins with an establishing pre-credit narration that ends "There it was hidden, even from the searching eye of Sauron -- The Lord of the Rings". (Cue opening theme tune). This also qualifies as a Title Drop.
    • People also might believe "Return Of The King" to be referring to Sauron's attempts to obtain the one ring and conquer Middle-earth, instead of Aragorn's ascension to the throne. This, too, was clarified in the movie of the same name; when Denethor is angry about Aragorn's coming, Gandalf tells him, "Authority is not given to you to deny the return of the king." Some people even thought Denethor was the king. (He's the Steward, by the way; a regent that rules when the king is away.)
      • Odd, since it's made abundantly clear in the books that Denethor is Steward. His seat is at the bottom of the dais the King's Throne is on, he's referred to as "The Steward of Gondor" throughout the book, and he even comments that Gondor has no need of a King.
    • Completing the tradition of using the titles in the movie, during "The Two Towers", Saruman explains the two towers to be Orthanc, Saruman's own tower in Isengard, and Barad-dûr, Sauron's stronghold in Mordor. However, Tolkien's Towers (described in a note at the end of FotR and his self-drawn dustjacket cover) were Orthanc and Minas Morgul.
      • Tolkien was never happy with this title, largely because even though he had decreed Orthanc and Minas Morgul to be the eponymous towers by Word of God, Barad-dûr, Minas Tirith, and the tower of Cirith Ungol all play significant parts as well, giving the reader five towers to deal with. Why, yes, the plot is somewhat complicated.
        • However the towers of Minas Tirith and Cirith Ungol do not appear at all in the second volume (i.e. Books III and IV); in fact, they have only passing mention in the actively-narrated story before Return of the King. There, however, each tower has the first chapter of its respective book (i.e. Book V and VI) named specifically named after itself (i.e. "Minas Tirith" and "The Tower of Cirith Ungol" are the names of the opening-chapters of each book, respectively). Meanwhile in contrast, Orthanc and Minas Morgul had only brief, passing involvement in the active-narration part of the overall story. Thus while the third volume of the book might have been more appropriately named "The Two Towers," that's not how Word of God penned it out.
      • And then there's people who insist that Frodo and Sam are symbolically the two towers.
    • The first Swedish translation made the title "The Lord of the Rings" refer explicitly to the ring itself.
    • The Silmarillion sort of has an in-universe example, with the Valaquenta saying about the Feanturi that they are "called most often Mandos and Lorien. Yet these are rightly the names of the places of their dwelling, and their true names are Námo and Irmo."
  • Referenced in the book Are You A Geek?, where one of the things that gets you points is "You get annoyed when people assume that the name of the film is also the name of the main character, shouting things like 'Come on, Die Hard!' and 'Get 'em, Total Recall!'"
  • Moby Dick is the whale; Moby-Dick (with a hyphen) is the book.
  • Many people who have not read Rebecca, or who do not remember it very well, refer to the narrator by that name. It is actually the name of her husband's first wife, who is dead before the story begins. The narrator's name never comes up.
    • Parodied in a Mitchell and Webb sketch. Hitchcock's Film of the Book is being made, but Executive Meddling demands that if it's named Rebecca, it has to be about Rebecca. They don't change the names, though, they just replace all instances of "first wife" with "second wife" and vice versa.
  • A variation of this would be the fact To Kill a Mockingbird is not an instruction manual for mockingbird hunters. There weren't even any mockingbirds. It's a reference to a metaphor used throughout the story. There was even a Title Drop in which mockingbirds were referenced directly, and they're a symbol for one of the growing-up lessons Scout learns.

 Atticus: Shoot all the jays you want, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. ... They don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.

Jays-- and rabid dogs. And he does shoot a rabid dog... and it wasn't even mocking him (intentionally, anyhow).

    • At the end, when Scout agrees not to reveal Boo Radley's heroism:

  Scout: Well, it'd be sort of like shooting a mockingbird, wouldn't it?

  • The main character in Johnny Got His Gun, a fairly horrific story about a World War I soldier waking up in a hospital, is often mistakenly referred to as "Johnny;" his actual name is Joe. The title's a Literary Allusion Title to the patriotic pro-war song Johnny Get Your Gun.
    • The video for the Metallica song "One" was inspired by the film version of this novel. In an interview following the video, Lars Ulrich informs the audience that he had been deeply moved by the story of poor Johnny.
    • In all fairness, it's not exactly impossible to assume that Joe is short for Johnny.
      • Seeing as how Joe is short for Joseph and all of its variants, that is a tremendous stretch.
  • Spoofed in 1066AndAllThat, which makes Henry IV Parts I and II separate characters. Recently referenced by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion: "'Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought', as Henry IV Part II said to his son."
  • Hello my name is Twilight and I am a Dracula. Two for one!
  • The Three Musketeers. The world may never know that there were, in fact, four of them. Though many adaptations have D'Artagnan not become a musketeer himself until the end, in the original book he becomes a Musketeer about halfway through. Actually, he's made a musketeer twice. It's seems that due to the vagaries of serialized fiction, Dumas forgot he ended a chapter with D'Artagnan being made one. Several chapters later, he's made one permanently.
    • What's really annoying is that magazine ads for Three Musketeers candy feature Porthos, Athos, and D'Artagnan.
    • Slumdog Millionare cleverly exploits this misconception. The climactic question is "The Three Musketeers are Athos, Porthos, and who else?" Since "everyone knows" that D'Artagnan is one of the Three Musketeers, a lot of viewers think that "D'Artagnan" is the right answer and "Aramis" is the wrong answer.
  • Inverted in case of Rainbow Six. Rainbow Six is the codename of the leader, the team is simply called Rainbow.
  • The monster in Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky is only called the Jabberwock; the title is just one more piece of nonsense verse.
    • He may have intended "Jabberwocky" to mean "the story of the Jabberwock", in the same way that The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus.
  • Many of the books in The Wheel of Time have titles with very little if anything to do with what actually goes on in the series. A few come from prophecies and sayings in universe(Only in the openings to the books where the author always sticks one of these), but the biggest offender is definately Book 6, Lord of Chaos, a phrase that we still don't know the meaning of for certain with 12 published books and only 2 more coming.
    • Let the Lord of Chaos rule
  • James Joyce's Ulysses does not literally star any character with the same name.
  • Harry Potter: It is "The Marauder's Map"; not "The Marauders' Map". The four people who designed it shouldn't be referred to as "the Marauders"; that name is for anyone in possession of and using the map.
    • Although it's never actually stated that they didn't call themselves the marauders.
  • L. Neil Smith's book The Forge of the Elders has an in-universe example: the giant nautiloids that sponsored the expedition (back) to Earth all have four-syllable names. The first two syllables of the expedition leader's name are pronounced "miss" and "terr", so the Americans that meet him and his agents assume that half of his name is a title ("Mister").
  • In "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" (aka "Twas the Night Before Christmas"), the reindeer are listed as Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen. No Donner.
  • The protaganist in Go Ask Alice is Carla, not Alice.
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