Conjuring up names on TV

Oct 4th 2004

It's no secret that a popular tv series can launch the popularity of a name. The all-time champion, by my reckoning, is "Bewitched." During its eight-year run, that beloved suburban-sorceress sitcom launched three names with lasting star power: Samantha, Darren and Tabitha. Samantha in particuar has become such a modern classic that it's hard to remember the name was virtually unknown before Elizabeth Montgomery brought it to twinkling life.

One contemporary heir to the naming throne shares a lot in common with "Bewitched." Try a charming suburban blonde, struggling each week to smoothe over trouble caused by pesky supernatural forces.

When "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" premiered in 1997, the character names Willow and Xander were completely off the radar as baby names. But by the show's final year in 2003, Willow was the 530th most popular name for American girls. And Xander checked in at #237 for boys, ahead of such familiar favorites as Gregory, Martin and Scott.

Both shows took place in parallel universes, where life was full of the unexpected and unusual names wouldn't cause any raised eyebrows. (Who cares that your mother-in-law is named Endora, you've got bigger problems, she turned you into a goat.) The more real-world the show's setting, the less likely it will spawn hot new names. "Dynasty" was a huge name influence: Blake, Krystle, Alexis, Fallon. But "E.R."? Forget it.

Comments

1
By Anonymous (not verified)
October 6, 2004 7:12 AM

I always thought of Willow as a male name, probably because of the impossibly memorable movie of the same name.

2
By Laura Wattenberg (not verified)
October 6, 2004 11:05 AM

I always thought of it as a female name, probably because of the impossibly blonde cheerleading captain in my high school class.

3
By Anonymous (not verified)
February 9, 2005 9:33 PM

Hey didn't you notice that the names Carter and Noah had a rise in popularity along with ER?

4
By Anonymous (not verified)
February 11, 2005 8:39 PM

Xander, I think, is just supposed to be a nickname for aleXANDER.

5
By Anonymous (not verified)
February 12, 2005 10:27 PM

Did you stop to wonder why Emma is so popular suddenly? Didn't some Friends character recently name her newborn that?Oh Americans, what won't you copy?

6
By Laura, Baby Name Wizard (not verified)
February 13, 2005 2:58 PM

Emma was a top-100 name for a decade before the Friends baby appeared...and especially popular with the demographic of the Friends characters. TV can be a mirror of our culture, as well as a shaper of it!

7
By Anonymous (not verified)
February 16, 2005 4:07 AM

My cousin named his kid Alexzander (that spelling) and has called him Zander since birth... he was born in 1995. Guess that goes back to the whole popularity of Z and X...

8
By darren oldman (not verified)
February 16, 2005 7:41 PM

I was surprised by the recent popularity of Noah, those old biblical names are not popular in the uk (soap stars are the biggest influence)Regarding the name Darren - I thought its popularity also stemmed from Bobby Darin. It is usually credited as being a modern american name however i believe it is a corruption of a celtic word Tarren (tarrent & tarrant are surnames) Does anyone else know of possible origins?

9
By Anonymous (not verified)
February 17, 2005 1:33 AM

I was always surprised that "The X-Files" didn't cause a rise in the names Dana, Fox and Marita. As a Marita myself I was wondering if it would become popular.

10
By Cynthia Lamore (not verified)
February 20, 2005 2:17 AM

I just wanted to let you know that those popular TV shows of yesterday are also generating the nicknames of the grandmothers of today. I bacame a "grandma" at 42 and out of respect to my mother, could not use that title. My daughter asked me what I would like to be called, and I had to really think about it. Then one day, "Bewitched" came on TV and the baby really took a liking to the theme song. I decided that MaMa was the answer! I figured it might even give my son-in-law a hint! My young njece and nephew are even calling me MaMa! I have even heard of other grams using it. It can also be associated with the "Addams Family". Watch out Lurch!

11
By totmom (not verified)
February 23, 2005 7:26 AM

I think this trend also follows Disney movies. You meet a girl named Ariel and you know exactly when she was born!!

12
By Jeff (not verified)
February 28, 2005 3:26 AM

TV can also kill a name. While the names of Bart and Homer were declining, they died completely in the 90s due to The Simpsons.

13
By Anonymous (not verified)
February 28, 2005 4:05 AM

I want my next daughter to be named Lorelei. Getting that name from the show Gilmore Girls, Lorelei Gilmore. My husband hates it though. Probably because he hates the show.

14
By Anonymous (not verified)
March 6, 2005 3:58 AM

Parenthood.com says Darren is Celtic and means "great."

15
By James (not verified)
March 22, 2005 4:48 PM

Has Buffy had any impact on the name Buffy, or is that still considered too frivolous? What about Spike or Angel? Drusilla? Darla?

16
By Anonymous (not verified)
March 22, 2005 7:51 PM

I'm 26 now and when I was younger hated my name-- Emily. It just seemed so old fashioned compared to my friends names-- Amanda, Sandy, Jessica, etc. The show Kate & Ali brought the name Emma (one of the daughters on the show)to my attention and I went by that name through the end of middle school.

17
By Anonymous (not verified)
March 23, 2005 12:04 PM

My husband's name is Tod which means Fox. So we thought that was a great name for our first son.I hadn't counted on the popularity of Fox Mulder and the X-Files. To me it just sounded like an old-fashioned English name. Yet everyone feels the need to comment on it. Some of it's good, some of it not so good, but every third comment or so involves the X-files.

18
By Misty and Chad (not verified)
March 23, 2005 4:45 PM

I have a friend who has an aunt named Buffy. Then my boyfriend's ex*fiancee was named Tabitha Stevens before she got married. That just totally ruined Bewitched when I remembered that's what the character's name was because I cant stand any of my boyfriend's ex's. Drives me nuts. But, yeah. When I was in seventh grade, my cousin Whitni and I always made up baby names and I loved the name Willow! I'm all for original names though!

19
By Misty and Chad (not verified)
March 23, 2005 4:45 PM

I have a friend who has an aunt named Buffy. Then my boyfriend's ex*fiancee was named Tabitha Stevens before she got married. That just totally ruined Bewitched when I remembered that's what the character's name was because I cant stand any of my boyfriend's ex's. Drives me nuts. But, yeah. When I was in seventh grade, my cousin Whitni and I always made up baby names and I loved the name Willow! I'm all for original names though!

20
By Anonymous (not verified)
April 1, 2005 4:11 AM

If I ever have a little boy, I want to use the name "Jareth" as part of his name. "Jareth" is the character David Bowie played in the movie "Labyrinth." I haven't quite decided whether or not I would use "Jareth" as a first or middle name, but I think I am leaning toward using it as a middle name because I wouldn't want my kid to be teased about his name. And I know how difficult it is when your name is spelled "differently." People STILL spell my name wrong (Michele) even after I spell it out for them...and even after I mention that I spell my name with only 1 "L." But, I'm glad my parents named me Michele instead of Michelle...Michelle is TOO LOOPY!!!

21
By Anonymous (not verified)
May 18, 2005 6:43 PM

I can't believe no one has commented here about the sudden popularity of Aidan after he showed up as Carrie's boyfriend on Sex and the City...

22
By Anonymous (not verified)
July 13, 2005 1:36 AM

Anonymous said... Did you stop to wonder why Emma is so popular suddenly? Didn't some Friends character recently name her newborn that?Oh Americans, what won't you copy? Dang that was uncalled for!In response to the "Aiden" question..I agree!! I have thought maybe that is why it is so popular now! ;)

23
By Anonymous (not verified)
September 4, 2005 8:12 PM

Remember, sometimes TV names are chosen to fit the character's negative side.To the woman who wanted to name her daughter, LORELEI. Check out the meaning, and think again...unless you want your daughter to be associated with being a siren of death... Gender: Feminine Usage: Germanic Mythology Pronounced: lor-e-LIE, LOR-e-lie   [key] From a Germanic name meaning "ambush cliff". In Germanic legend Lorelei was a siren who lured sailors on the Rhine River to their deaths

24
By Anonymous (not verified)
October 18, 2005 8:39 PM

I think Lorelei is a beautiful name.The name didn't just receive its meaning from myths and legends. The poets also based their works on ancient tales about the Rhine Valley and Loreley Rock. German legend says that in nights when the moon shines brightly elves have been seen dancing there. In Middle High German the word "lure" refers to dancing, and in the same language the word "Lei" means rock. So this should be the real origin of the name "Loreley".

25
By Antoinette (not verified)
November 22, 2005 4:03 PM

I'm so glad I don't watch TV...

26
By Anonymous (not verified)
January 23, 2006 2:43 AM

Just as Dynasty did, I feel some of the modern TV shows, (particularly Sex and the City and Gilmore Girls etc.) use "uncommon" names for all of their characters... and i wonder what the reasons may be...Ex: Lorelei, Rory, Dean, Tristan, Sukie

27
By lily walker (not verified)
October 24, 2006 5:56 PM

my son is called JARETH and he is 11 now and loves the fact that no-one else has his name and its unlikely he will ever meet another one!

28
By lilly walker (not verified)
October 24, 2006 6:15 PM

just so you all know, his full name is Jareth Valan Lestatt Walker and he has never had any problems with people being mean about it, i believe that if you tell your child to be proud of their name they will be no matter what it is. i personally am so proud of my son and couldnt think of a better name for him, to me he truly is The Goblin King!!!

29
By Jennifer Rafac (not verified)
December 6, 2006 6:42 PM

I love the name Jareth, and the movie, it's also one of the boy names I've decided I have to use. I was orginally thinking Rycherd Jareth for my first boy, but I'm thinking Marvin Jareth now. Marvin for my grandfather. I'm also thinking of Riddik for a boys name, yes I stole that from Pitch Black, but I'm thinking that I'll be the only one daring enough to do that.

30
By Mark (not verified)
February 22, 2007 9:30 PM

My daughter's name is Ariel. It's a old biblical name meaning a spirit or an angel. I first heard the name in the movie, Footloose and thought it was beautiful. My wife and I checked on it's origin and meaning and thought it would suit our daughter perfectly.

31
By Georgie (not verified)
April 16, 2007 6:27 AM

My last name is Montgomery and my parents thought it would be a kick to name me "Elizabeth" and my twin sister, "Samantha" after Elizabeth Montgomery who played Samantha on BEWITCHED. Sadly, my twin was mis-carried, but I still got the name Elizabeth. When I began acting at a young age everyone thought it was cute to see a little E.M. on the playbill. When I entered a college for the arts my first starring role was as a woman named Georgie. I thought it sounded good with Montgomery and go by that now with Elizabeth in the middle.
I adore the original E.M. and in the event I ever become known, I feel that the name should continue to be just for her.

32
By joy (not verified)
December 20, 2007 12:06 AM

i like the name apple. ime 6 months pregnant and found out i was having a girl today. before my ultrasound i couldnt decide if i wanted a girl or boy, because i really wanted a boy, but i wanted a girl because i really liked the name apple. (ime so glad i ddint have to choose between a boy and girl!) i thinks apple is a creative, sweet, innocent, fresh,simple and cute name for a baby girl, and even w hen the girlbecoames to be for a young lady. names portray so many important characteristics and have impression, and my impression and opinons of the name Apple, is two thumbs up!

33
August 13, 2014 8:50 PM

apple is very amazing name. may your baby is as cute as apple. 
tom and jerry games unfair mario game