One of the truest demonstrations of fandom is to commit your child's name to your favorite fantasy world. Not just any name, mind you. Even the most casual viewer might pick up a fashionable name like Bella or Jasper from Twilight. It's the unlikelier names that show off a fanbase's true colors -- names like Daenerys or Ollivander that make a fellow fan glow in recognition.
That's how we're going to put the most beloved science fiction and fantasy franchises to the test. The challenge: how many previously unused names has each franchised launched into current use, and how popular are they? After an initial baby-name screening that eliminated contenders like Star Trek, Twilight and the Marvel Universe, we identified five powerhouse finalists:
Game of Thrones
The Hunger Games
The Lord of the Rings
The ground rules: We count any names that came out of nowhere in the stats, along with names that were previously outside the top 1000 and rose by at least 500% within five years of their first screen appearance. (We're comparing entire fictional worlds, so names from spinoffs like "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" do count.) We found 38 qualifying names from our franchise finalists:
Scoring: Award a base of 100 points per name. Extra 150 point bonus for a name given to at least 200 babies last year (Khaleesi through Anakin above); 100 point bonus for 100+ babies (Thorin-Arwen); 50 points for 50+ babies (Daenerys-Hermione) and 20 points for 20+ babies (Primrose-Stark).
And the #1 Fandom Is…
Harry Potter, by a whisker over Game of Thrones.
The Game of Thrones names totalled more babies, but Potter inched ahead with more different names launched. GoT fans, if you feel robbed keep in mind that we gave you the name Stark for House Stark of Winterfell, even though Marvel's Tony Stark (Iron Man) also holds a claim to it. Hardcore fans may also argue for the hit GoT name Arya, which didn't qualify for this list, but the non-qualifying Potter hit Luna balances it out.
Looking ahead, the arrow could move in many directions. Game of Thrones is still on the air, and the new Star Wars movie due out in December could give that franchise new name momentum. The biggest wild card, though, may be Harry Potter. Potter fans start young enough that not all of the diehards who were up at midnight waiting for their copy of "Deathly Hallows" in 2007 are even old enough to vote today. That could point to a whole generation of Hermiones and Dracos yet to come.
Whether you're excited for the new school year or wondering where your summer went, it's time to usher in the season with our favorite intellectual names. They make the grade for any parent who hopes their child will always love learning and astound the world with their honor-roll worthy accomplishments.
Albert: Einstein, perhaps the most famous scientist and important theoretical physicist of all time would make a great namesake for your little one. This quirky classic has been slipping in popularity, but just imagine how cute your little Albie will be in a onesie that reads "E = mc2".
Alexander: There are too many notable Alexanders to count, but two standouts include Alexander the Great (Greek King and exemplary military commander) and Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone). This name sounds commanding and intelligent and comes with lots of variations to suit any style. It's also a reliable top-10 favorite.
Alice: Alice is a sweet, enduring classic brought to life in the pages of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Its link to English literature and the character of the curious schoolgirl give this name an intellectual air.
Apollo: The Greek god of knowledge with a standout name, Apollo has been gaining popularity in recent years. Though it's on this list for its meaning and history, some may think of this name as having a sporty edge due to speed skater Apolo Ohno. Trendsetting namers Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale chose Apollo for their third son, born in 2014.
Athena: Another name from Greek mythology, Athena was the Olympian goddess of wisdom. Her name is quickly rising up the charts in the US with each year, as parents look for intriguing feminine names with Greek connections and an airy sound. Tina Fey chose this as a middle name for her daughter Penelope.
Catherine: There are several saints with this name, and one of them happens to be the patron of librarians and teachers who was known for her sharp debating skills. Catherine is a classic name with a multitude of literary and royal connections.
Eleanor: Perhaps the most famous Eleanor is Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving first lady in America's history. Known for her accomplishments in human rights, she was outspoken and well-educated. Namipedia users find this name to be "smart" and "sophisticated".
Elizabeth: The epitome of a classic name, Elizabeth is still associated with Queen Elizabeth I, who transformed England into a world power and ushered in the literary culture of the Elizabethan age. Another noted Elizabeth is Blackwell, the first female medical doctor in the United States.
Galileo: Galileo Galilei was an Italian astronomer, mathematician and philosopher. His iconic name is both elegant and brainy, perfect for a boy who loves stargazing. (Possible nicknames? Leo, pronounced either LEE-oh or LAY-oh, and Gale.)
Henry: Henry is another English classic that brings to mind a young gentleman who takes his studies seriously. From kings and dukes to Shakespearean characters, authors and composers and more, Henry has been the name of many intelligent and accomplished people throughout history.
Isaac: Sir Isaac Newton has a perfectly fashionable given name, and his contributions to physics, calculus, and modern science are undeniable. This biblical trendsetter has found a place near the top 30 mark in recent years.
Lawrence: Lawrence is the name of several colleges and universities, prep schools, and even a federal research lab in California. It's got a no-nonsense formality that makes us think "scholar" when we hear it. (The nickname Larry is on the other end of the spectrum, however, thanks to Larry the Cable Guy and others.)
Leonardo: Better known as Fibonacci, Leonardo Pisano Bigollo is known as the most talented mathematician of the middle ages. He shares a name with Leonardo da Vinci, famed Italian artist, mathematician, and inventor. Today, this name comes across fashionable and intelligent, and it has a great down-to-earth nickname: Leo.
Margaret: The full name Margaret reminds us of UK Prime Minister and "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, as well as Dennis the Menace's know-it-all and spectacled friend, Margaret Wade. They may not have much in common, but both have contributed to the intellectual appeal of this classic name.
Marian: For fans of The Music Man, this pretty name has a bookish personality. It's not Marian's fault that it just happens to rhyme with "the librarian". In contrast, the legend of Robin Hood gives this name a more romantic feel, as Maid Marian is his love interest.
Marie: The first woman to win a Nobel Prize, Madam Marie Curie developed the theory of radioactivity and left an unparalleled legacy in the medical field and beyond. Her name is a charming classic with French overtones.
Raphael: A Renaissance painter and architect with a high IQ, Raphael's name is the picture of intelligence with international appeal. Alec and Hilaria Baldwin chose the spelling Rafael for their son, born in June of 2015.
Tesla: Nikola Tesla was an inventor, engineer, and physicist whose ideas were so forward-thinking that he's become a modern day hero. The Steampunk movement often pays tribute to his inventions, and Tesla's name is not unheard of for little girls among parents who love everything steam-powered.
William: Playwright William Shakespeare is just one of the most famous and intelligent people to bear this perfectly classic name. Because of its popularity and versatile short forms, William is also an "every man" choice that will adapt well to any child.
Yale: This name has Ivy League written all over it, thanks to the famed university. It's an English surname that's rarely used, but it would definitely make a distinguished statement.
The U.K. and the U.S.A. share a language, and so they share baby names. Mostly. There are limits to the linguistic likeness. Just as you'll never find an American driving a lorry or changing a nappy, you'll never meet an American baby named Huw.
That name is literally unknown here -- in fact, right now a lot of American readers are wondering if the three-letter string was a typo. Yet the latest baby name stats from England and Wales show that Huw remains a top-1,000 boy's name, as always.
It isn't alone. The top 1,000 names lists from England and Wales include scores of names that don't register in American stats at all. Let me emphasize that: these names aren't just rare, they're statistically nonexistent. Given that the most recent U.S. stats tally more than 30,000 names from Aaban to Zyyon, that's saying something. Below is a sampling of the names that show how two similar baby name cultures can still be worlds apart.
1. Barney (Male, England & Wales popularity rank #427): Back in 1992, this name sounded so genially out-of-date in the U.S. that it made a perfect choice for a singing purple dinosaur. The dino character wiped Barney completely off America's baby name map.
2. Dolcie (F, #582) and 3. Dulcie (F, #638): Dulcie is classic English sweetness, a 19th-century name created from the Latin word for "sweet." The more recent variant Dolcie follows the Italian spelling dolce, as in La Dolce Vita and fashion house Dolce & Gabbana.
4. Ffion (F, #255): This name shows off the Wales side of the England & Wales name charts. Ffion is Welsh for "foxgloves," and pronounced fee-ahn.
5. Dougie (M, #386), 6. Ralphie (M, #584), 7. Herbie (M, #716): Even the full names Douglas, Ralph and Herbert are out of favor in America. Using their cute diminutives as given names is hard for American parents to imagine.
8. Huw (M, #747): Huw is simply the Welsh version of Hugh, pronounced much the same as the English. If the spelling throws you, well, Hugh is no picnic on that front either.
9. Fearne (F, #347): In the U.S., no form of the name Fern has cracked the top 1,000 in fifty years. In England, though, three different versions make the cut. This non-traditional spelling is the most popular, after tv presenter Fearne Cotton.
10. Osian (M, #319): Oisín was the great warrior poet of Irish legend. Osian (OH-shen) is the Welsh version of the name with a bit more American-friendly spelling.
11. Poppie (F, #388), 12. Bluebell (F, #934): : Cuteness is thoroughly in fashion in the U.K., and thoroughly out in the U.S. These floral names epitomize the divide.
13. Kenzie (M, #410): Throughout "the colonies," the surname Mackenzie and its nickname Kenzie are popular girls' names. In the UK, they're hits for boys instead.
14. Fleur (F, 345): Fleur is French for "flower," but there are almost as many little Fleurs in England as France. The Harry Potter character Fleur Delacour is one reason.
15. Anything-Mae (F, 25 different names in the top 1,000 that don't exist in the U.S.): In England hyphenation is hot, and Mae (in every spelling) is the epicenter of the trend. Millie-Mae, Lexi-Mae, Daisy-May and Poppy-Mae are just the beginning. For boys try -Lee, as in Tommy-Lee, Jayden-Lee and Alfie-Lee.
More on British baby name trends: