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So, you're watching a new show on TV. You notice the series has a gloomy-looking Goth character and you wonder what they named her. Maybe something dark like "Raven" or "Misery" or "Lady Death".

They reveal her name, and it's... Sunshine? The gloomy-looking character's name is Sunshine?

Yes, sometimes, a character is given a name that is ironic considering their personality, lifestyle, or whatnot. Often, this is Played for Laughs, but more serious examples do exist.

See Ironic Nickname for cases when the character's nickname, instead of their given name, is ironic.

Related to Fluffy the Terrible, where a scary monster or animal is given a decidedly non-scary name, Deathbringer the Adorable, where a cute, relatively harmless animal is given an imposing name, and Tom the Dark Lord, where an evil character has a Plain Name.

Examples of Ironic Name include:


Anime and Manga

  • With the Light
    • Hikaru's full name is Azuma Hikaru, or "light of the East," and upon hearing this name, his new father Masato's first hope was that Hikaru would grow up to climb the corporate ladder. Which... he most likely won't do.
    • Miyu means "beautiful feather", but she acts far less delicate than her name would suggest, as does the fifth-grade kendo champ Misaki, whose name means "beautiful blossoms."
  • The given name of Nozomu Itoshiki of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei means hope, which is ironic in light of his deeply pessimistic personality. It ends up becoming a Meaningful Name though in that due to a quirk in Japanese, the way his name is spelled leads it to being misread as Zetsubou, "Despair" or "Hopeless".


Comics


Film

  • The main family's last name in The Incredibles is Parr, meaning "average". Something the Parrs definitely are not.
  • Tiny from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects fits this since he's clearly a giant. The actor who in this role, Matthew McGrory, was seven feet and six inches tall when he died of natural causes in 2005.

Literature

  • Discworld
    • The Carters from Lords and Ladies: the daughters, as is traditional, are all named after virtues (Hope, Patience, Chastity), but then Mr and Mrs Carter got a bit confused and named all the sons after vices (Bestiality, Covetousness, Anger). None of the children live up to their names.
    • Adora Belle Dearheart from Going Postal is anything but adorable. Most people who know her call her "Killer". Her love interest, Moist von Lipwig, calls her "Spike". Mind you, she's a wonderful person, just not "adorable".
  • Pippin Galadriel Moonshine in Good Omens goes by Pepper, as she is a short scruffy tomboy with a temper.
  • Festina Ramos from The League of Peoples Verse: in Expendable, she bitterly notes in her narration that "Festina" means "The Happy One" and her typical state of mind is anything but happy.
  • The Kitty Norville series is about a werewolf named Kitty. Whenever anyone comments on it, she says the name came first.
  • In the book of Ruth, Naomi (whose name means "pleasant") lampshades her ironic name when she returns to Israel, telling the women of her hometown to call her "Mara" ("bitter") because her life has been anything but pleasant up until that point.
  • In Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light, the twisted, monstrous villain with darkness-related powers is named Evangelos, which means "Messenger of Light".
  • In the Robin Hood stories, Little John's Ironic Nickname directly derives from his given name, John Little.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
    • Two of the Freys have names that are ironic in terms of who they are named for. The severely mentally retarded Aegon (generally known as Jinglebell because his jerkass grandfather makes him act as a jester) is named after a great military leader and ruler. Similarly, Rhaegar Frey, a slimy and totally mediocre man, is named after a Pretty Boy Knight in Shining Armor who was both a sensitive intellectual and a military genius.
    • In-universe, "Spotted Pate" is a folklore character who, while dim-witted, was Born Lucky and always succeeds/makes nobles look ridiculous (basically the equivalent to Jack, Hans, etc. in our folklore). As a result, it is a popular name for Westerosi peasants. However, (perhaps because they are peasants) most of the Pates in-story are singularly unlucky:
      • At one point, the outlaw Tom O'Sevens is listing his grievances against the Lannisters, and he names at least five Pates he knew whose deaths he blames on them, including his cousin Ser Pate who was killed in a tourney by Gregor Clegane.
      • Another Pate is the royal whipping boy and gets flogged for bad deeds by the Princes (or just when Cersei wants to teach her son a lesson).
      • Pate of Oldtown was murdered and had his identity stolen by a shape-shifting assassin.
  • Each of John Steakley's novels features a character named Felix ("happy/lucky") who is Blessed with Suck.
  • Varsian the Immortal from Lacuna dies moments after introducing himself.
  • A much more subtle example is from Harry Potter. Amycus Carrow is one of Voldemort's Death Eaters, but his name is a variation on the Latin word amicus which means friend.


Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer seems to love doing this. You'd think that characters with names like Angel, Faith, and Glory would be heroic characters, but they're all villains. While Angel does pull a Heel Face Turn eventually, he's still a vampire and becomes more of an Anti-Hero than a shining example of heroism.
  • The BBC show Merlin had a villain called Valiant, who was using underhanded tactics to cheat in a tournament.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Starting around season 3, Sheriff Rosco started a K-9 unit by acquiring Flash. Flash is a lazy Basset Hound who does nothing but loaf around, receive Rosco's affections, and occasionally bark at Boss Hogg.


Music

  • The members of ZZ Top are famed for their Badass Beards. Well, except for their drummer, Frank Beard, who has a Badass Mustache instead.
  • Lamb of God quite frankly doesn't sound anything like the bunch of choir boys you'd expect. In fact, their previous band name, Burn the Priest, is actually much more fitting to the band's sound.


Radio


Video Game

  • Modern Warfare
    • The first name of the terrorist you spend most of the game fighting (Vladimir Makarov) name means "ruler of peace".
    • Shepherd is usually the nickname of someone who takes care of a group of people under his watch as best as he can, as well protecting them from danger.
  • In Heavenly Sword, Nariko is a Japanese name that means "Gentle Child". She's anything but.
  • Isaac from Golden Sun. His name means "he laughs" but he's a Heroic Mime in the first game and mostly stoic in the sequels.
  • Tales of Symphonia's Raine is afraid of water.
  • Inazuma Eleven lampshades this with one of its managers, whose last name is Otonashi. Otonashi means "quiet"--the character is the opposite.


Webcomics

  • Tiffany "Susan" Pompoms of El Goonish Shive always goes by her middle name, because she considers her actual first- and last-name to be too "perky and upbeat" for her cynical, sardonic personality. (Ironically, it's been made quite clear that if it wasn't for ONE traumatic childhood event, she would've wound up fitting her name just perfectly.)


Western Animation


Real Life

  • Freakonomics contains the examples of Winner Lane, whose most noted achievement was his criminal record and subsequent prison time, and Loser Lane, his brother, who ended up becoming much more successful (and now goes by "Lou").
  • An American destroyer captain led the destroyer charge that scored a number of torpedo hits at Suriago Strait. His name was Coward.
  • Similarly, John Coward was the first officer of British Airways Flight 38 and was in control of the plane when it lost power. Together with the other pilots he managed to get it down without any casualties. Afterwards, one newspaper had the headline "Coward in name only."
  • Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor, had the names of the legendary founder of Rome and the first Roman Emperor. Originally called Romulus Augustus, the -ulus was added, making the name "Little Augustus".
  • Comedian Adam Hills cites a real life example in his shows: he goes on a rant about Irony and how many people don't understand it. After one such show, a woman comes up to him and informs him that she is diabetic. Her name is Candy.
  • There was this robber and murderer named Charles Peace...
  • One of the officers (and prime fall guy) responsible for the Rodney King beating is named Stacey Koon (for the blissfully unaware, 'Coon' is a highly derogatory term for a black person, and the Rodney King beating was probably racially motivated).

 Bill Hicks: So this guy, officer Koon... Is life too fucking weird, or what?

  • Similarly, the last racist anthropologist to be taken seriously was named Carleton Coon.
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