In our country we have long TV series (maybe seventy episodes in one series) without unique titles. They are just simply marked as episode 01, episode 02, etc. It is hard to find the specific one in so much meaningless number. But in English TV series we can easily find, for example, the sad episode when our character dies, because of its title Swan Song.

Not only that, these titles are not simply describing the plot. They often have a clue, snark or pun. I googled for "TV episode title"; the articles about how to write this kind of title say TV episode titles have a tradition of being "clever". So, is there any term to describe these tricks? I know not everything has its own vocabulary, so any short and unambiguous way to call that style is fine. It would be better if Wikipedia has related entries.

  • There is no rule, no single trick.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 3:28
  • 1
    Every episode of the American TV show Friends was titled The one where... followed by a very short text identifying the most memorable aspect of that episode. Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 11:58
  • Thank you for the fresh question. Maybe the cute titles are teasers. Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 15:07

3 Answers 3


The term used to describe clever, punning, or allusive episode titles is "episodic titling" or "episodic title". The purpose of episodic titling is to entice viewers to watch the episode and also to give a sense of what the episode will be about. It is a common practice in American television and is often used to create buzz around a show or a specific episode.

Another term often used to describe the clever and creative naming of TV episode titles is "punny episode titles". These titles often play on words or phrases, incorporating puns or clever references to the episode's content or themes.

Another term that is often used is "wordplay episode titles".

  • Thanks for answering. "wordplay" is a useful key word in Wikipedia. Another thing I want to make sure is that, is "episodic titling" or "episodic title" enough to distinguish from the style that is a straightforward summary of the plot?
    – Krahmal
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 5:37
  • I would think so. But if you'd like to emphasize its cleverness, you can use additional words as suggested.
    – JK2
    Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 7:04
  • You may like to add a reasonable example: 'The Possibilities', the third episode of supernatural drama TV series 'Preacher' (see Wikipedia; paragraph 2). Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 13:48

You could call this idiosyncratic naming:
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming/LiveActionTV

  • These links are helpful. One of my purposes is to search for similar index lists by keyword.
    – Krahmal
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 2:30

You might use a term borrowed from commerce.

a short, easily remembered phrase used by an organization so that people will recognize it or its products

Thus you might say that the episode about the death had the strapline “Dying Swan”.

  • Thank you for correction. Looks like google translate is not very smart lol. Is strapline similar to slogan?
    – Krahmal
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 2:29
  • Yes. Cambridge dictionary has slogan as: C1 a short easily remembered phrase, especially one used to advertise an idea or a product. So it fits your need too.
    – Anton
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 8:07

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