"Confusing term for story titles that don't really work at all, and thus are changed."—Doctor Who: The Completely Useless Encyclopedia
The first step in the creative process is an idea. That part is obvious. Coming up with what to call that idea can be troublesome. And if you don't have a name for it, then talking about it is a chore. And even when you are working all alone, you will need to call your new novel-in-progress something when you save it on your computer.
This is why a lot of things go through a number of names between production and release. The end result may be that you hear actors talk in an interview about a movie they're doing, only to find it came out under a different name all together.
Working titles can also be used defensively, allowing the creators to refer to their project without giving much away. It can help camouflage a ground-breaking project against someone else copying the idea, or sneak an anticipated sequel under the media radar until it is ready for the world to hear about it.
Not to be confused with the British production company affiliated with Universal.
See also Market-Based Title.
- Oban Star Racers originally had the title of Molly: Star Racer. Production fluxed back and forth between the two titles.
Card Games[edit | hide]
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- When Kira Is Justice was first published, it was known as C0's Death Note. It was changed.
- The Toxic Avenger was filmed under the working title The Monster Hero - which gets a number of Title Drop moments, as it was changed at the last minute.
- Ed Wood's first major movie, Glen or Glenda, was slated to be called I Changed My Sex, as it was designed to cash in on a sex change operation that had just made the news.
- Subversion: Everyone thought that Cloverfield was just a working title. Then the movie came out under that name.
- Inversion: A number of B-Movie titles were thought up long before the script was ever written.
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi had "Blue Harvest" as a working title to keep the production hidden - asides from overeager fans, they really didn't want to repeat the experience of being overcharged by location managers for The Empire Strikes Back. When Family Guy made their Star Wars special, they called it Family Guy: Blue Harvest.
- The Jackie Chan movie The Medallion was originally titled Highbinders during filming. It's easy to tell by looking at the outtakes during the closing credits, since the working title is written on the clapperboard.
- Earlier titles for the Wallace and Gromit film Curse Of The Were-Rabbit included The Vegeburglars and The Great Vegetable Plot.
- A Matter Of Loaf And Death was originally to be named Trouble at T'Mill. The original name was kept for the British release, but changed because no one else would get the joke.
- The Invention of Lying was originally going to be called This Side of the Truth. Ricky Gervais's blog would indicate that this was a voluntary attempt to get the point across better, but that hasn't stopped people from complaining about Executive Meddling and "dumbing down" and stupid American audiences that need everything spelled out for them.
- The two Matrix sequels were shot back to back under the codename The Burly Man.
- October Sky is an interesting case. The working title, "Rocket Boys"—also the name of the memoir which the movie is based on—is an anagram of October Sky.
- Subverted with Snakes on a Plane, which was only a working title. Samuel L. Jackson liked the name so much that it he threatened to quit if they changed it.
- Live Free or Die Hard was first announced as Die Hard 4.0, tying into the films cyber-terrorism plot. When shooting actually began, Twentieth Century Fox announced the title would be Live Free Or Die Hard. Though the film was released everywhere but America as 4.0 Director Len Wiseman and star Bruce Willis can be heard on the DVD commentary mocking the change.
- The Thief and the Cobbler had such titles as "The Thief Who Never Gave up", "Once...", simply "The Thief", or the wildly different and creative "The Cobbler And The Thief". The film was released after Executive Meddling under two names, "The Princess And The Cobbler" and the punny "Arabian Knight", before being released on VHS as "The Thief And The Cobbler".
- Not to mention the early period when it was about Mulla Nasruddin, and has names such as "Nasruddin!", "The Majestic Fool" or "The Amazing Nasruddin".
- Tron: Legacy was going to be called TR2N (or possibly T2.0N). The stylized 2 can still be seen, notably when Rinzler is looking for clues by the End of Line club.
- The Ides of March was originally called Farragut North, after the play it's based on. The original title still gets a Title Drop a few times.
- Woody Allen's films usually have generic working titles during production, such as "Woody Allen Fall Project" or "Woody Allen London Project". In one case, the working title simply remained and became the film's actual title: Manhattan Murder Mystery.
Literature[edit | hide]
- Warrior Cats has several.
- The Curse for Dark River
- Shadows Of The Stars for Eclipse
- Cruel Season for Sunrise
- The Fourth Apprentice for the Omen Of The Stars series
- Ambush for The Fourth Apprentice
- Betrayal or Dark Betrayal for Night Whispers
- Crookedstar's Secret for Crookedstar's Promise
- The Great Gatsby had a few working titles: Trimalchio (after a character who throws an elaborate party in The Decamarion) Trimalchio in West Egg, Gold-Hatted Gatsby (after the dedication quote) and Under the Red White and Blue.
- The Wicked Lovely series had a few:
- "Shiver" for Fragile Eternity
- "Skin Starved" for Radiant Shadows
- The first book in The Hunger Games trilogy had the working title The Tribute of District Twelve.
- The Australian drama series headLand had the working titles of Away From Home, Campus and Ten Degrees South. The first title is explained by the fact it was orginally intended as a Spin-Off from Home and Away, but with UK broadcaster Channel Five having no interest in the spin off, Channel 7 decided to make it a separate series altogether.
- The UK version of Who Wants to Be a Superhero had the working title of The Ultimate Superhero at one point. This is evidenced in the episode where the superheroes visit BBC Television Centre and their guest passes read "The Ultimate Superhero".
- High School Musical was meant to be a working title, but the title was still being used in post-production and it stuck.
- Weirdsister College had a working title of The Worst Witch: The College Years (and ended up being used in an autumn CITV promo).
- That '70s Show had the working titles The Kids Are Alright and Teenage Wasteland, but everyone just kept referring to it as "that '70s show" and the title stuck.
- During development, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive was originally titled Drive Force and later Relic Hunters.
- Power Rangers Jungle Fury was titled Beast Fist early on in its development.
- When VR Troopers was still in development as a one-hero show, it was going to be titled Psycon. Later it was renamed Cybertron. It was probably changed after that to avoid stepping on Hasbro's toes.
- Torchwood: Miracle Day was originally going to be named The New World, as evidenced by early promotional materials before changing to Miracle Day. However, the first episode keeps the original name and one character name-drops it in the season finale.
- Many episodes of Doctor Who were filmed under a different name to the one they were broadcast under. The Deadly Assassin was originally "The Dangerous Assassin", until Robert Holmes decided it didn't "sound right". The Claws of Axos was known as The Vampire from Space right up until transmission, with the first episode being listed in the Radio Times under that title. And three seperate stories were originally known as Return of the Cybermen, with at least one being changed so the Cybermen would be a surprise.
- In his Doctor Who Magazine column for March 2011, Steven Moffat announced what some of the upcoming episodes wouldn't be called: The first episode of the new season wouldn't be "Year of the Moon" ("I really like that title, but absolutely nobody else does in the whole wide world"), the second wouldn't be "Look Behind You!", and the mid-season finale either wouldn't be "His Darkest Hour" or it wouldn't be "A Good Man Goes To War". Neil Gaiman's episode, meanwhile had a story so secret, Moffat couldn't even tell us what it wasn't called. (" Bigger on the Inside", and before that "The House of Nothing").
- Star Trek: The Next Generation had a number of these including Star Trek A New Beginning, Star Trek A New Generation, Star Trek The New Generation and Star Trek Enterprise 7 (the latter title is explained by the fact the ship was to be known as the Enterprise 7 rather than the Enterprise D).
- Degrassi the Next Generation was originally conceived as Ready, Willing and Wired. When Stephen Stohn suggested the eventual title, apparently Linda Schuyler disliked the sense of rehashing past successes and felt the Trek reference sounded forced at first. But, since name recognition both in the U.S. and abroad is always an uphill battle for a Canadian Series, tying it in with the still-popular previous efforts made good business sense.
- Perfect Strangers was originally called "The Greenhorn", likely in reference to how new and exciting was for Balki.
- Soap was only supposed to be the working title but after getting the show done they couldn't think of a better title so left it.
- The same thing happened to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
- The working title of The Beatles' song "Yesterday," when Paul McCartney first came up with the music, was "Scrambled Eggs," because it fit the rhythm. According to McCartney, the tune came to him in a dream, and for weeks he thought it must be an old song that he had heard somewhere, so he sang it to everyone he knew to see if it was familiar, using the lyrics "Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs." (Obviously those were never intended to be the song's final lyrics.)
- "With a Little Help From My Friends" had the working title of "Bad Finger Boogie", because while it was being recorded John Lennon had injured one of his fingers.
- George Harrison apparently had trouble coming up with song titles, at least during the Revolver sessions. "Love You To" had the working title of "Granny Smith." When asked what he was going to call another song, George replied "I don't know," so John exasperatedly suggested "Granny Smith Part Friggin' Two!" An engineer went with "Laxton's Superb," after another apple cultivar, before it was humorously decided to just call it "I Don't Know," and finally, "I Want To Tell You."
- Starflyer 59: Jason Martin was initially going to call the band Starflyer 2000; his brother Ronnie even gave a shout out to "Jason Martin and Andrew Larsen and their brilliant new group, Star Flyer 2000!" in the liner notes of his Rainbow Rider album. Jason mentioned in some interviews that he was working on a new album called The Sad Lives of the Hollywood Lovers; it ended up getting released as The Fashion Focus. "Major Awards" from the album Old was initially called "The Sheriff". "The Brightest of the Head" from the album Dial M was originally a demo titled "God Forbid" on the Ghosts of the Future vinyl series; Jason says he changed it because he feared it might be sacrilegious.
- Subversion: the Generic Universal RolePlaying System was never intended to be released under that name, and was always supposed to get an evocative, marketable title at some point... but it never happened. The working title, GURPS, became the title it was released as.
- Tell Me More!, a largely forgettable Gershwin musical of 1925, was originally titled My Fair Lady. Apparently the producer didn't think it was commercial enough.
- Speaking of My Fair Lady, its working title was Lady Liza, but the song of that name was cut.
- The musical Something For The Boys began production as Jenny Get Your Gun. It's no coincidence that the same star and same writers next joined forces on Annie Get Your Gun.
- Oklahoma began production under the title of its source play, Green Grow the Lilacs, but started its out-of-town tryouts as Away We Go.
- Bionicle was Boneheads of Voodoo Island. This was the "defensive" variant, as LEGO is very protective of its intellectual property. The BIONICLE canon does not contain a setting called Voodoo Island, (or voodoo of any description) and none of the characters have ever been referred to as "Boneheads". The title was, for a short period of time, shortened to just "Doo Heads".
- Another, but earlier, working name that crossed the minds of the creators was "B4", as in "before". The "B" part was carried over into the finalized BIONICLE logo.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- Halo had many proposed names, including stuff like Covenant and even Red Shift. In the end, an anonymous Bungie employee (nobody knows who did it, even today) wrote on the whiteboard for names "Halo". It worked, and the rest is history.
- The two titles it went under before being named were Monkey Nuts and, when Bungie co-founder Jason Jones wanted to tell his mother about the new game they were working on, they changed it to Blam!
- Valve went through this A LOT for Half-Life and Half-Life 2. In fact, Gordon was originally Ivan (nicknamed Ivan The Space Biker). Breen was The Consul, Eli Vance was Eli Maxwell and had no relation to Alyx, Mossman wasn't named Judith, and countless others. It all changed between E3 and the launch of Half-Life 2.
- As a shout out to Half-Life, William "Bill" Overbeck originally had the last name Calhoun.
- No More Heroes was originally to be called Heroes (no relation to the TV show, though that might be why it changed).
- Twisted Metal was originally High Octane, as seen in the original FMV endings.
- The first Fatal Fury game had the working title of Real Bout, which had several title drops thorough the backgrounds of the game's stages. It was eventually used as the actual title for a later sub-series of Fatal Fury games.
- Final Fight was original titled Street Fighter '89, but was changed after play testers criticized the game of being a Dolled-Up Installment. Ironically enough, members of the Final Fight cast would later migrate into the Street Fighter series.
- Resident Evil 3 Nemesis was originally intended as a side-story to the series and was known under a variety of working titles such as "Biohazard Gaiden" (not to be confused with the later Game Boy Color game of the same name), "Biohazard 1.9/2.1" and "Biohazard: Last Escape". The "3" was added to the last title, as Capcom wanted to release a final numbered Resident Evil game before moving on to the next-generation platforms.
- Metal Gear:
- The original plan for Metal Gear 1987 was titled "Intruder". In the MSX2 version, pausing the game and typing "intruder" and then resuming play will increase the ammo capacity of every weapon to 999, providing something of a Title Drop.
- Metal Gear Solid was originally titled Metal Gear 3 (back when the game was being made for the 3DO) until Kojima figured that not many people played the original MSX2 games (or that were people actually who actually owned 3DOs).
- During the early development of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the game was actually titled MGS III (skipping a number).
- Fire Emblem Fuuin no Tsurugi (The Sword of Seal), the first Game Boy Advance game in the series, was originally titled Fire Emblem: Ankoku no Miko ("The Maiden of Darkness").
- The first Alone in The Dark game went through many working titles, such as "Nightmare in Derceto" (from the name of the mansion), "Doom in Derceto" and simply "In the Dark".
- Battalion Wars, a Nintendo GameCube installment of Nintendo's Wars series, was initially titled Advance Wars: Under Fire, keeping the Advance Wars moniker the series was introduced to internationally. Ironically the Japanese version was titled Totsugeki!! Famicom Wars, which used the original Famicom Wars moniker.
- Konami initially planned to release Contra Spirits in America as Contra IV, since they originally intended to market Contra Force (a localization of an unrelated game titled Arc Hound) as the third game in the series. However, Contra Force got delayed and Konami decided to bump down the title of Contra IV to Contra III.
- Almost all of Nintendo's gaming platforms had codenames during development that were different from the names Nintendo actually used on the market. The model numbers of most of the hardware that Nintendo has released more often than not reflect the original codename of the platform (i.e. every Game Boy-related hardware has a model number that begins with the letters "DMG").
- Every piece of Family Computer hardware has a model number beginning with the letters "HVC", which stands for "Home Video Computer" (the original name for the Famicom). Oddly enough, Super Famicom's model number begins with SHVC, even though Nintendo already rejected the name for the original Famicom. The western Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super NES averted this by choosing model numbers that reflected the system's final names (NES and SNS respectively).
- The "DMG" in the Game Boy's model number stands for "Dot Matrix Game". The Game Boy Pocket's model begins with "MGB", which stands for "Mini Game Boy".
- The Virtual Boy was originally called the "Virtual Utopia Experience" (VUE).
- The Nintendo 64 was originally called "Project Reality" and then changed to the "Nintendo Ultra 64" (NUS) for a while before it got its final name.
- The codename for the Game Cube was the "Dolphin" (DOL).
- The codename for the Nintendo DS was "Nitro" (NTR).
- The codename for the Wii was the "Revolution" (RVL).
- A rare example where the codename became so well-known prior to the official name's announcement that many people mistakenly believe the console actually was called the "Nintendo Revolution" and was renamed the "Wii." It's not uncommon to hear someone criticize Nintendo for "changing" the name from a title that was never intended to be used.
- A similar thing happened with the GameCube, with lots of gaming magazines jumping the gun and assuming it would actually be named that.
- The codename for the Wii U was "Project Cafe".
- The codename for the Genesis 32X was "Project Mars", following the Solar System motif of the Sega Saturn (thus, the unreleased Genesis/32X hybrid would've been the Neptune, which is where the protagonist of Neptunia got her name from, by the way).
- Two competing architectures were developed by Sega to become the basis of the Dreamcast. One was called Katanas Are Just Better and the other was called Dural. Sega decided to use the Dural design, but 3Dfx, the company that made that design's GPU, leaked its specs so they chose the Katana to be the Dreamcast instead.
- Sonic the Hedgehog was originally called Mr. Needlemouse (a literal translation of the Japanese for "hedgehog"); as a Development Gag, Sonic the Hedgehog 4's Working Title was "Project Needlemouse".
- The name "Sonic Generations" was originally thought to be the Working Title for a new Sonic game, but this has recently been Averted Trope and confirmed as the game's real name. Considering that Sega registered the domain names of it, this isn't surprising.
- In actuality, this game already had a different Working Title before Generations, being marginally leaked as "Sonic Anniversary".
- Pokémon Gold and Silver were originally known as Pocket Monsters 2: Gold and Silver.
- Fallout had a weird situation. After Fallout 2, the team created a project for a prequel and codenamed it "Van Buren." Then Black Isle went bust and Van Buren never saw the light of day. After Bethesda bought it up, they made Fallout 3, which reused nothing from the Van Buren project...and then Bethesda farmed out their next project, Fallout: New Vegas, to Obsidian, the successor studio to Black Isle, who reused a lot of elements from the discarded Van Buren project for New Vegas and elevated Van Buren to Broad Strokes canon. However, all the remaining old material is still called Van Buren.
- Multiwinia was originally meant to be a working title with users suggesting the title of this game. However, the original stuck.
- Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance would have been called Mortal Kombat: Vengeance, according to its Concept Art Gallery.
- Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, and Kirby's Return to Dream Land were all announced as Super Mario, Mario Kart, and Kirby Wii. Presently, the 3DS installment of the Paper Mario series is just a Recycled Title.
- In an episode of Justice League, a few heroes get sent into an alternate universe. There there they meet the counterparts to the League in that universe, the Justice Guild, who are based off of some of the 1950s DC heroes. Originally the "Justice Guild" was going to be the Justice Society of America, but it was changed at the last minute because DC had just gotten the JSA popular again and the Society/Guild acted realistic for the 1950s. It was for the better in the end, since Green Lantern mentions they also were the heroes in the comics of his childhood, which would have made little sense.
- Code Lyoko was originally Garage Kids, with a darker theme and lacking Aelita. The digital world was called "Xanadu" instead of "Lyoko". Also, Yumi could use telekinesis in the real world. It was later revamped, with a clearer boundary between the digital world and the real world.
- The movie Once Upon a Forest was originally going to be called The Endangered, but was changed because of Executive Meddling into something Lighter and Softer.
- Fantasia had the rather plain title The Concert Feature while in production. A contest was held to find a better title and the musical term fantasia (meaning a free-form composition using familiar themes) seemed the most appropriate. Its sequel Fantasia 2000 was originally going to be called Fantasia Continued.
- When it was first pitched in 1992, Andrew Stanton's film WALL-E was known as Trash Planet. And while we're on Pixar...
- Brave was originally titled The Bear and the Bow
- Pixar's next two projects are Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs and Untitled Pixar Movie That Lets You See Inside The Human Brain
- The sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender was originally going to be Avatar: The Legend of Korra, taking the basis of the British name for the original series. However, legal issues about the term 'Avatar' meant that it was changed to The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra. After fan complants about its bulk and lack of in-universe sense (she is no longer "the last airbender") it became simply The Legend of Korra, maintaining the "Avatar" prefix overseas.