#2. The Title of Agatha Christie's Best-Selling Novel Was Also Insanely Offensive
If you exclude religious texts, Agatha Christie's 1939 murder mystery novel And Then There Were None is one of the 10 best-selling books of all time. It's just behind classics like A Tale of Two Cities, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, and it ranks ahead of The Hobbit.
In the book, 10 people are tricked into visiting an island off the coast of England and are killed off one by one in accordance with lines from a nursery rhyme. When someone dies, their death is symbolized by the breaking of one of 10 figurines the characters find in the beginning of the story. Pick up the book today and the nursery rhyme and the figurines will be called either "Ten Little Indians" or "Ten Little Soldiers," but back when the book was first published, the title of the nursery rhyme, the name of the figurines, and the title of the book were all Ten Little Niggers.
Two months after it was released in the U.K. under its original title, the book made its U.S. debut as And Then There Were None, the final line of the nursery rhyme. In their mad dash to change the title, the U.S. publisher could have named it Trumpet Fart: Clown Overdrive and it still would have been better than the original. The U.S. title eventually became the global title, and it's the reason reading a list of the best-selling books of all time doesn't go: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Ten Little Ni- WHY WOULD YOU CALL IT THAT?!
#1. Star Wars Used to Be Adventures of the Starkiller, as Taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars
Star Wars. That's it. That's all George Lucas needed to get the entire plot of his space epic across to audiences. Such beautiful simplicity. He didn't fill the title with all sorts of stupid spacey sci-fi jargon that would alienate audiences ... but holy shit did he ever try to at first.
The second and third drafts of Star Wars are where George Lucas started to discover the story we love today. Luke and Ben Kenobi were introduced, the Force showed up, and the Anakin character shifted from protagonist to father of the protagonist.
And eventually turned him into a rotting melon.
Everything was falling into place. Except for the title. The first title George Lucas ever gave the script was The Journal of the Whills. I guess Lucas didn't feel like that described much of anything about the movie, so he overcompensated like a guy with a limp dick at a Lamborghini dealership. The title was changed to Adventures of the Starkiller, as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. Well, that clears shit up. That's a citation from a space bible.
Space Jesus. So metal.
As production went on, the unwieldy title was shortened to The Star Wars. Eventually, even "the" felt like too much, so it was cut down to the only two words it needed to be: Star Wars. No one needs to know a fictional story was taken from one section of a fictional space diary.