Posts @ my blog about name anachronisms

While we're bored waiting for the SSA lists to come out, I thought I'd share a couple of recent posts at my blog dealing with a subject that has been discussed before: anachronistically-named characters.

At the following post I came up with a scale that rates how "out of sync" a name is:

The post here deals with not character or people's names, but some geography/astronomy-related anachronisms (that are outdated on the order of millennia):

Any thoughts?


May 14, 2012 4:10 AM

Fascinating and I thoroughly agree with your scale assessment.

One character name from television that's been nagging at me ever since she was introduced is Megan from Mad Men. She should have been born sometime in 1940 in Quebec, and she has this thoroughly late '70s-early '80s name of Welsh origin (though commonly mistaken for Irish). I really want someone to say it's a stage name as the character is an actress, or a name to acclimate to the US. Matthew Weiner, the show's creater, seems obsessed with detail, but I really cannot handle the glare of how off-base Megan's name is.

Any other characters to add to the list?

May 14, 2012 11:46 AM

I also think Weiner screwed up when he named one of the (minor) characters Bethany.  Mad Men is set in 'my' era.  I graduated college in 1966, the year of the current season, and I can say for certain Bethany (and Megan) were not on the name horizon at all.

Another name that irks me is Gemma on Sons of Anarchy.  The character is supposed to have been born in a very small northern California town about fifty-ish years ago, and I don't think that there were too many Gemmas running around in small American towns in those days.  I did know a few Gemmas back in the day, but they were all born in England.  I would characterize Gemma in those days as a strictly English name of the Clive/Nigel sort.

By Guest (not verified)
May 14, 2012 12:50 PM

Is the chraracter from an Italian family by chance? Gemma is an Italian name to me as the only ones I have known are Italian.

May 14, 2012 2:04 PM

No indication of Italian background that I remember.

May 14, 2012 2:51 PM

Gosh, yes, Bethany! I knew I was forgetting another one that bugged me to no end.

By Guest (not verified)
May 14, 2012 11:44 AM

On your blog you mention the baby named Amy on Up All Night.  I also notice that Maya Rudolf's character's name Ava seems a bit of an anachronism on a roughly 40 year old woman.  If they switched the names it would be more accurate!


I also am bugged by Megan's name on Mad Men and am hoping that an explanation is forthcoming.

By Guest (not verified)
May 14, 2012 2:05 PM

One that really bugs me is Skyler on Breaking Bad. She's supposed to be about 40, I think, when the first season ran in 2008, which would put her birth year at about 1968. But not only is Skyler not in the top 1000 for girls in 1968... it's not even in the Beyond-the-Top-1000 data, meaning fewer than 5 girls that year were named Skyler. In fact, it's not even there for boys that year. It shows up for boys the following year, 1969, with only 5 occurences; it doesn't show up for girls until 1975, also with 5 occurrences. It doesn't break 20 occurrences for girls until 1984, and doesn't hit the top 1000 until 1990. 

- EVie, nli

May 14, 2012 2:58 PM

I also want to add Elizabeth Banks' character Avery on 30 Rock. It seems ridiculous that any female person over the age of ten should have that name. She and Alec Baldwin's character have a toddler-aged daughter named Liddy (not sure if it's a nn or standalone), which, like Up All Night, had they switched those names things would make much more sense.


By Guest (not verified)
May 14, 2012 3:53 PM

Baby Liddy's name is Elizabeth, after Liz Lemon.


Avery does seem out of place.

May 14, 2012 8:38 PM

I had a colleague whose daughter Avery was a lawyer--and that was 15 years ago, so the daughter would now be middle-aged.  Not that strange a name for the deep South even decades ago.

May 14, 2012 9:03 PM

I'll have to concur with most of the ones mentioned above,

Megan and Bethany on Mad Men just seem very out of place,

 Regan, Ava and Amy (baby) on Up all Night is ver anachronistic to me as well,

Skyler on Breaking Bad has also bugged me but I had never looked up the stats. Given that data it does seem to be a bit far-fetched.

Private Practice would have to be the single biggest offender for anachronisitic names though. Addison, Cooper, Charlotte, Violet, Archer, Amelia, Naomi all on 40-ish doctors seems very wrong.  They do have a new charachter of a 10(?) year old boy named Mason which is probably a bit ahead of the Mason trend but at least slightly believable.

By mk
May 14, 2012 9:39 PM

On the other hand, Charlotte, Amelia, and Naomi are all believable to me for that age group, especially Naomi since the only ones I know are over 40.

Addison always seemed out of place though.

May 14, 2012 10:22 PM

I agree that Charlotte, Amelia and Naomi are the most believable. I actually do know of the odd one in that age group. I think it's more that the character names as a whole seem off. One of two out of sync doesn't bother me at all, it's when pretty much the whole cast is named like a daycare centre roll it grates on my nerves.

May 20, 2012 6:41 PM

Most of the female character names from NCIS Los Angeles really bother me.  

They did OK for the male characters- Sam, Eric and Marty, (30s-40s).  

Henrietta Lange is played by is Linda Hunt who was born in 1945 when Henrietta was at #295.  So I don't think they did too bad here.  It would have been unusual, but not unheard of.

However, the younger women are named Kensi and Nell-and those names just seem way off for women who are supposed to be in the 30-40 age group.  

By Guest (not verified)
May 20, 2012 10:05 PM

The only Nell I know is 38.