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"This song has nothing to do with f&$#ing kids, by the way."
—Intestinal Disgorge, I'm Going To F&@# Your Kid

Sometimes, a title makes no sense. Sometimes, however, a title will make a sort of sense, but on later ponderings, will be seen as misleading. Sometimes this is due to the title being an Artifact Title or perhaps the writer simply thought it was a cooler name. Also sometimes leads to instances of I Am Not Shazam. Taken to the extreme, these types of titles can lead to a Non-Indicative Name.

Compare Completely Different Title.

Examples of Never Trust a Title include:


Anime and Manga

  • Fist of the North Star isn't exactly the most accurate translation of the Japanse title, Hokuto no Ken, its just that it sounds a helluva cooler than "Fist of the Big Dipper" (which is what "Hokuto" actually is, the Japanese name for the Big Dipper).
    • Or "Ken the Great Bear Fist", which is the localized title suggested by Toei's International Sales & Promotion Department (source).
    • However, it's not THAT inaccurate either. Considering that the "Big Dipper" is a constelation that helps you find the "North star" Polaris. [1]
  • There is a Ranma One Half episode titled "Ranma and Kuno's... First Kiss." Be thankful that you really can never trust a title.
  • Though the titles do make some sense in context, Virgin Love and its sequel Junai no Seinen (The Young Person's Pure Love) do not do a very good job indicating how smutty the works are.

Comic Books

Fanfic

Film

  • At least half of the Pink Panther movies.
  • The Thin Man movies, too (the thin man of the original movie referred to the murder victim, not the main character).
  • Kangaroo Jack is very much a supporting character in the roo's own movie. And it doesn't talk aside from a brief hallucination.
  • The movie Hearts in Atlantis. This is due, however, to it being an Artifact Title from the novella: the original novella was called "Low Men in Yellow Coats" and "Hearts in Atlantis" was an entirely different story (called so because the main character -- avoiding going to Vietnam by being in college and thus it feeling like Atlantis -- played the card game Hearts a lot (It Makes Sense in Context)). The movie makes no attempt at explaining the title. Other for it being, you know, a movie adaption of (a part of) the book Hearts in Atlantis...
    • I believe that Brautigan refers to the sunken continent at some point in the dialogue, but that still doesn't make explicit the "hearts" part.
  • The Last King of Scotland is actually about the Last Dictator of Uganda. It makes sense in the movie...however, the eccentric Idi Amin was basically a walking version of Never Trust a Title.
  • Tron isn't really about Tron, but more about Flynn. Tron: Legacy even moreso.
  • Monster a Go-Go! has a monster (sorta), but he doesn't dance - nor does Go-go dancing figure into the threadbare plot it has.
  • The Ref. The title implies something sports-related, and the holiday setting suggests something happy, but the movie is about as black a comedy as one will find from mainstream Hollywood. The eponymous character is a cat burglar who kidnaps a horribly dysfunctional couple in an attempt to evade a manhunt, and winds up having to "referee" their bickering while he plots his escape. In retrospect, the title fits, but a first-time viewer would have no idea what to expect.
  • The Grapes of Death. Awesome title, but the grapes themselves don't kill anybody. Farm chemicals applied to the grapes cause people to go berserk.

Literature

  • The Three Musketeers is actually about the fourth musketeer who meets and joins the original three. (Modern audiences will also notice that they don't seem to use muskets that much, preferring swords, but that's historically accurate; musketeers depended on their swords more than their muskets, which were single-shot weapons that took a long time to reload, so after they'd been fired once they were essentially useless for the rest of the fight.)
  • The Neverending Story ends. Well, the book has a bunch of subplots left with no ending, apparently to inspire children to become writers by actually encouraging them to write their own fanfiction. It's very meta.
    • Of course, one popular method of vandalizing the Wikipedia article on The Movie was to add something along the lines of "Contrary to the title of the movie, the movie does end".
    • And The Agony Booth's mini-review of the first movie recycled this joke.
    • On The Simpsons the character of Lionel Hutz (a lawyer) says "this is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film, The Never-Ending Story."
  • Blackadder: The Whole Damn Dynasty: a book containing scripts of the series, does not cover the whole dynasty. It doesn't contain The Cavalier Years and Blackadder's Christmas Carol.
  • Perdido Street Station has almost nothing to do with the eponymous novel, beyond a scene in the climax. On the other hand it's hard to find a title that would fit with a book like that.
  • Neil Gaiman's short story "Other People" has only one character.
  • In a similar vein, in Agatha Christie's short story "The Four Suspects", the killer turns out to be a fifth character not counted among the so-called suspects.
  • The Goblet of Fire has a relatively brief appearance in the 4th Harry Potter book and merely serves to trigger the events of the book, after which it's pretty much never seen or mentioned again. "....and the Triwizard Tournament" would've been significantly more descriptive.
  • A Clockwork Orange makes sense if properly analyzed, but is never explained in the book or film and its origins involve a murky anecdote about the author's experiences in Africa and the term "orange" being used as slang for "man" because of the Malay and Indonesian word "orang" meaning "person", which is also connected to the etymology of the word "orangutan", a species which is only coincidentally known for its orange fur. Could something like Ludwig Van Villainous have proven a bit less complicated?
    • Burgess also said it came from his hearing the slang term "as queer as a clockwork orange" and that he intended it as a metaphor for "...an organic entity, full of juice and sweetness and agreeable odour, being turned into an automaton." Clearly even Burgess doesn't know what the title "really" means.
      • Not to mention that no one has yet found a single instance of the expression "as queer as a clockwork orange" appearing in real life.
  • Burnt Offerings has no offerings, burnt or otherwise.
  • The Decline of the West is a non-fiction book by German philosopher Oswald Spengler which inspired many people to grief about the coming end of civilization. Spengler wasn't completely happy with the title (which seemed to imply that the western world had to fall, like the Roman empire) and commented that he could've changed the title to "The fulfillment of the West", which would be closer to his intention - i.e. the west transforming to a stable but stagnant empire in the end. The fact that many fans only knew the title and didn't care to actually read the book didn't help.

Live-Action TV

  • Since the death of actor Mark McManus, Taggart hasn't had Taggart.
  • The Doctor Who episode "The Next Doctor". But, of course, that's a spoiler.
  • Beyond the first few seasons, Stargate SG-1 as well as Stargate Atlantis would often go entire episodes without mentioning or showing a Stargate.
  • In some markets, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger was localized as Galaxy Rangers, even though the only characters who are outside the Earth are the main villains.
  • The first episode aired of Power Rangers Samurai is titled "The Team Unites". Yet there is no uniting, at least not in a Recruit Teenagers with Attitude sense. The Rangers already have their powers, and the episode is primarily focused on the Green Samurai Ranger, Mike, who technically could be said to "rejoin" the team in the latter part of the episode. It's all but confirmed that it was supposed to be Episode 3, and the true "first episodes" of Samurai came in the form of Origins Episodes mid-season.

Meta

Music

  • The first song on Twelfth Night's self-titled album is entitled "Last Song."
  • "Sympathy For The Devil" really doesn't portray him very sympathetically at all.
  • Intestinal Disgorge's "I'm Going To Fuck Your Kid." They even acknowledge this partway through:

 This song has nothing to do with fucking kids, by the way...

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda isn't always about Zelda. One game only mentions her once at the very beginning (she never appears), one only included her in a flashback, and two others only contain her if both are played in tandem. What's more, aside from portions of Spirit Tracks and one of the non-canon CD-i games, you never play as her. All this leads to a massive case of I Am Not Shazam for poor non-eponymous hero Link.
  • You do not get to Destroy All Humans!, though you get to Destroy All Martians in the second one.
  • Final Fantasy has many sequels.
  • The "Soulless Army" is merely the first indicator that something is amiss, and really does not have a whole lot of impact on the plot, itself.
  • X is not the main character of Mega Man X 7.
    • The Mega Man Star Force series focuses more on electromagnetic waves than stars or space. Star Force 2 doesn't have anything to do with stars! As for the "Star Force," it's just a power that MegaMan gets in the first game but has nothing to do with the other two games; there's only a vague mention of it in Star Force 3.
  • Solid Snake is not the main character of Metal Gear Solid 2 or Metal Gear Solid 3.
    • Nor is there actually a Metal Gear in MGS3
    • Technically, Solid Snake is still considered the main character in MGS2, he's simply not the player character for most of the game (there's a difference it seems).
  • The eponymous wars of Guild Wars ended before the earliest events in the game.
  • Chrono Trigger. The actual Chrono Trigger impacts the plot only briefly - and even then, optionally, as it's possible to go ahead and fight the final boss without completing the part of the story that involves it. (Adding insult to injury, it's even referred to more often as the "Time Egg".)
    • This is less the case in Chrono Cross; while the eponymous item arguably spends less time relevant to the story than the Chrono Trigger, it is of much greater overall significance what with being the piece of Phlebotinum that's supposed to reintegrate the timelines and kill the Time Devourer off once and for all.
    • Although the Chrono Trigger item is relatively insignificant, the description that's given to it ("It is pure potential. By unleashing a specific course of events, it can have a powerful effect on time...It represents a possibility, it may or may not hatch.") applies equally well to the party, meaning that the time travelers themselves are a kind of Chrono Trigger. It gets a little meta.
    • Speaking of misleading titles in Chrono Cross, one would not expect a song called Scars of Time to be so damn funky!
  • ~Plumbers Don't Wear Ties~. In one scene early on in the "game", John is seen playing air guitar with a plunger while wearing a tie.
  • Metroid Prime Hunters does not involve Metroids or any incarnation of Metroid Prime at all. It includes creatures that attack in a similar manner to Metroids, but not Metroids themselves. (Though the demo version, First Hunt, that was included with DS systems at launch, did include Metroids.)
  • The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind - The eponymous scrolls get one mention in the game itself, and it's also the fifth game in the series...
    • Arguably the name Morrowind implies that you will be journeying across the entire province, when in reality you are limited to the island of Vvardenfell. Obviously this is located in Morrowind, but it still could be considered misleading.
    • The Elder Scrolls is awful about this, to date the eponymous scrolls have only been relevant in Oblivion (as a relatively unimportant MacGuffin) and Skyrim where it's really only important once. The subtitles are accurate though, although Oblivion would be more properly called Cyrodiil to be in line with the other titles being placenames.
    • Well, Oblivion IS a place in TES universe
    • The first Elder Scrolls game Arena doesn't have any arenas in it.
      • Fortunately, that's been handily dealt with: "Arena" is believed to be the translation of Nirn, from the language the earliest of the spiritual beings who took part in the creation of the world, the Ehlnofey.

Web Comics

  • MS Paint Adventures is really only 3 stories and 1 Orphaned Series and the current one hasn't actually been an adventure [1] in over a year. And nothing aside from the first panel of the first adventure has been made in MS Paint.
  • "Faraway Morning and Three Short Tales" is the title of the 34th chapter of Gunnerkrigg Court which actually does have characters telling three short tales. Sounds like a short chapter, right? It's actually one of the longest chapters to date thanks to all of the Character Development and plot revelations going on between each of the tales.

Notes

  1. IE, written by user suggestions
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