Baby Names Inspired by Movies and TV Shows

Naming a child is a deeply personal and significant decision for parents, often influenced by a variety of cultural, familial, and societal factors. 

One of the more intriguing influences in recent decades has been the pop culture, particularly the names of beloved characters from movies and TV shows.

The allure of these names is undeniable, as they carry with them the charisma, qualities, and stories of the characters they represent.

The Explosion of Pop Culture Influence on Baby Names

Modern Trends and Historical Context

The phenomenon of naming children after fictional characters isn’t entirely new.

Historical examples can be found in literature, such as the wave of babies named “Wendy” following J.M. Barrie’s creation of the character in “Peter Pan.”

However, the advent of mass media and global entertainment distribution has exponentially magnified this trend.

With the rise of blockbuster movies and cult-followed TV series, the impact on baby names has become both immediate and widespread.

The Harry Potter Series

The Harry Potter series, both in its written and film forms, has left an indelible mark on popular culture.

Names such as “Harry,” “Hermione,” and “Luna” saw noticeable upticks in usage following the release of the films. Hermione, once a relatively obscure name, became synonymous with intelligence and bravery thanks to Emma Watson’s portrayal of the character.

Similarly, “Luna” gained popularity, symbolizing a quirky and lovable personality.

Name InspiredMeaning
HermioneMessenger, Earthly
HarryHome Ruler

The Star Wars Franchise

The Star Wars saga has had a profound effect on generations. Names like “Luke,” “Leia,” and “Anakin” have become part of the naming lexicon.

Notably, the name “Kylo,” inspired by the character Kylo Ren in the newer installments of the series, saw a rise in popularity.

These names carry not just the weight of the characters, but also the timeless appeal of the Star Wars universe.

LukeLight Giving

Game of Thrones

Few TV shows have had as significant an impact on baby names as HBO’s Game of Thrones

Arya: The name Arya saw a dramatic rise in popularity, inspired by the character Arya Stark, known for her bravery and resilience. According to the Social Security Administration, Arya entered the top 1,000 names in the U.S. in 2010 and quickly climbed the ranks.

Khaleesi: Interestingly, not only did existing names gain popularity, but entirely new names were coined, such as Khaleesi, a title used by the character Daenerys Targaryen. Despite not being a traditional name, Khaleesi became a symbol of power and leadership.

More names inspired by the show are listed in the table below:

GoT Inspired nameMeaning
SansaPraise, Charm
JonGod is Gracious
TyrionRock, Land
DaenerysLady of Light
JorahEarly Rain
BrienneHigh, Noble, Exalted
CerseiEnd of the Tail


The enduring popularity of the sitcom Friends also influenced baby names. Names like “Rachel,” “Ross,” and “Chandler” saw boosts during and after the show’s original run. “Phoebe” and “Monica” also experienced a resurgence, reflecting the show’s cultural footprint.

RachelEwe (Female Sheep)
RossHeadland, Promontory
ChandlerCandle Maker
PhoebeBright, Shining One
MonicaAdvisor, Solitary

Black Panther

The release of Black Panther was a landmark moment for representation in Hollywood. Names like “T’Challa,” “Shuri,” and “Nakia” gained recognition and popularity, celebrating African heritage and culture.

More Names Inspired by TV Shows

ElsaConsecrated to GodFrozen
KristoffBearing ChristFrozen
ArwenNoble MaidenThe Lord of the Rings
LegolasGreen Leaves (Sindarin Elvish)The Lord of the Rings
EowynHorse JoyThe Lord of the Rings
EdwardWealthy GuardianTwilight
KatnissA type of aquatic plant (Arrowhead)The Hunger Games
PrimroseFirst RoseThe Hunger Games
PeetaRock (variation of Peter)The Hunger Games
OliviaOlive TreeScandal
QuinnWise, ReasonableScandal
HuckHeart, Mind, Spirit (variation of Hugh)Scandal
RachelEwe (Female Sheep)Friends
RossHeadland, PromontoryFriends
PhoebeBright, Shining OneFriends
SkylerScholar, ProtectionBreaking Bad
JesseGiftBreaking Bad
WalterRuler of the ArmyBreaking Bad
ElevenDerived from the number elevenStranger Things
DustinBrave WarriorStranger Things
LucasLight GivingStranger Things
ElizabethGod is My OathThe Crown
DianaDivineThe Crown
PhilipLover of HorsesThe Crown
SamGod has HeardSupernatural
CastielMy Cover is God (Hebrew origin)Supernatural
RickBrave RulerThe Walking Dead
CarlFree ManThe Walking Dead
DarylDarling, BelovedThe Walking Dead
LorelaiLight (variation of Laura)Gilmore Girls
RoryRed KingGilmore Girls
LaneFrom the LaneGilmore Girls
MeredithGreat ChiefGrey’s Anatomy
DerekRuler of the PeopleGrey’s Anatomy
AddisonSon of AdamGrey’s Anatomy
JackGod is GraciousLost
BuffyNickname for Elizabeth (God is My Oath)Buffy the Vampire Slayer
WillowWillow TreeBuffy the Vampire Slayer
XanderDefender of the PeopleBuffy the Vampire Slayer
SheldonSteep-sided ValleyThe Big Bang Theory
PennyWeaverThe Big Bang Theory
LeonardBrave LionThe Big Bang Theory

Gender and Naming Trends

Pop culture doesn’t just influence names—it also reflects and shapes societal norms, including those related to gender. 

Gender-Neutral Names

There has been a growing trend towards gender-neutral names, influenced by progressive characters in media. Names like “Jordan,” “Taylor,” and “Morgan” have gained popularity, inspired by characters who defy traditional gender roles.

Strong Female Characters

The rise of strong female leads in movies and TV shows has led to an increase in traditionally less common female names. Names like “Rey” from Star Wars and “Eleven” from Stranger Things illustrate this shift.

Dr. Laura Wattenberg, a naming expert, explains that parents often choose names that embody qualities they admire. For instance, naming a child “Hermione” might reflect a parent’s desire for their child to be intelligent and courageous.

The Ongoing Saga of Names Inspired by Pop Culture and Media

The influence of pop culture on baby names is a fascinating intersection of media, identity, and societal trends.

As movies and TV shows continue to evolve and new characters capture the public’s imagination, the names bestowed upon the next generation will undoubtedly reflect these influences.

Whether parents are inspired by the bravery of Arya Stark, the wisdom of Hermione Granger, or the leadership of T’Challa, the names chosen today weave the stories of beloved characters into the fabric of personal and cultural identity.


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