In the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, the protagonist was named Christian Grey.

So was the title of the movie related to the protagonist? Is there some deeper meaning to the title?

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    The phrase "50 shades" appears in Three Men in a Boat - a comic Victorian novel by Jerome K Jerome. In Chapter 6 he writes "There are fifty shades and tints and hues in every ten yards of that old wall" - a bit less exciting than 50 shades of grey, but certainly similar
    – user37442
    Jul 1, 2016 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


This was a topic of discussion in my book club last year. I was referred to the following article:

So what is the title of Fifty Shades of Grey referring to? There are a few options. On the surface, Fifty Shades of Grey means roughly what you think it means: Christian Grey has a lot of facets of his personality. He can go from gentleman one minute to S&M manic the next. The book is showcasing all those shades of Grey's character.

But the title is also a play on words. The phrase "shades of gray" usually refers to a situation that is not clear, particularly with regard to whether or not something is categorically evil. When doubt comes into play, things are neither black, nor white, but are in a gray area. Of course, Christian's last name allowed the author to title the book the very clever Fifty Shades of Grey with it's unique spelling of his last name.

As for the number 50, there are a lot of speculations as to why the author chose that number. Interestingly, data has found that the human eye can only see 32 shades of gray. So perhaps by choosing a number higher than that, the author is telling readers that you can't see all of the facets of Grey's character, and therefore you cannot judge him if you don't have the full picture. It reinforces that theme of "shades of gray" confusion.

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    "with it's unique spelling of his last name." Grey is the standard spelling in British English. The author is British. (See also: Earl Grey.)
    – his
    Aug 30, 2015 at 9:29
  • So, is Grey the standard British English spelling for the color as well? Aug 30, 2015 at 9:43
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    Of course, that is what I meant.
    – his
    Aug 30, 2015 at 9:46
  • Sorry...misunderstood, you referenced "Earl Grey" which I presumed was just a name. I believe that the author intended for it to be a play on words with the color and the name...hence the word "shades" in the title. Aug 30, 2015 at 9:57
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    Sure, but there is no unique spelling of his last name, for effect or other reasons, it is the normal spelling, that is all I wanted to say.
    – his
    Aug 30, 2015 at 10:02

A shade is a demon. Fifty Shades means fifty demons. Throughout the trilogy there are frequent references to Christian Grey's demons; those are his shades. (NB Pay close attention to the meaning of the names throughout the trilogy.) The fifty demons comes from a Buddhist book titled 50 demons.

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