Parents look to Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and Mad Men for name inspiration

Article by Lisa Cornish / /
December 14, 2013 /
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FROM Breaking Bad to Game of Thrones, parents are turning to their favourite TV stars when naming the next generation of Australians.

Analysis of birth registries around the country has found Australians are looking to some of popular culture’s most famous characters to name their children.

There have been 79 babies named after Arya, Catelyn and Sansa since the Game of Thrones novels were first released.

And four baby boys have been named after the sharp-tongued dwarf Tyrion.

“People naming their children after television or movie characters are often naming them after the characteristics, hoping their children will take on those traits,” said Rick van der Zwan, Associate Professor of Psychology at Southern Cross University.

This does little to explain the popularity of names from Breaking Bad.

The tale of Walter White, a teacher-turned-crystal meth dealer, became a worldwide phenomenon.

In 1995 Australia had two babies named Walter.

Since the show began in 2008 the name has been used 44 times.

And the main character’s wife, Skyler, has inspired 12 baby names.

Dexter, the story of a serial killer who only murders bad people, peaked with popularity in 2010 with 67 births.

“Someone deciding they love a show about a serial killer and then naming their kid after it is different,” said Dr Monique Robinson, a research associate in child health at the University of Western Australia.

“I’m not sure about that.”

Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a lecturer in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, believes people are drawn to using a different name.

“I don’t think most parents want their child to turn into a serial killer, but rather like the relative unusualness of the name.”

Downton Abbey is responsible for a resurgence in old-fashioned names.

Cora, Daisy and Edith have all increased in popularity since Downton Abbey began in 2010.

Betty, Peggy and Joan have been brought back to popularity thanks to Mad Men, combining to name 32 baby girls since 2007 after almost disappearing from Australian birth registries.

Even bad boy Don has inspired the parents of ten boys, who hopefully will turn out to be better behaved than their namesake.

NCIS had been getting in the action, producing 2,663 babies named Leroy, Jethro, Abby or Ziva since becoming a ratings hit.
And comedy shows are also in the mix.

How I Met Your Mother has seen a spike in babies named Marshall, Ted and Barney while The Big Bang Theory has helped with a resurgence of babies named Penny. Since hitting out screens six years ago, 205 babies named Penny have been born.

Sheldon, Leonard and Howard have combined to inspire 126 births and even Raj has helped with five.

“A generation later the name becomes disconnected from the origins,” explained Dr Rosewarne. “If there are a few Dexters, Skylars and Tyrions walking around the schoolyard, the name seems less unusual and peers likely wouldn’t have seen the TV show or film that a friend is named after.”

And experts warn the need to think through the names.

“Research on paediatric emergency admissions has shown kids with popular culture names are most likely to end up in hospital,” said Dr Robinson.

“It may be linked to low socio-economic status or social disadvantage.”

“I think parents need to do what suits their families and their personalities while being mindful of what will happen when a child is at school or trying to forge a career,” said Dr Rosewarne.