Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Influence on Baby Names

It’s been exactly a decade since Buffy staked her last vampire on network TV. But you can see the influence of Joss Whedon’s most popular creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in more than just TV shows like Vampire Diaries and True Blood—you can see it in the rise in popularity of a few key characters’ names. Nameberry’s had a whole series of articles about Joss’s naming prowess—and a lot of debate about whether people would pick some of the more controversial names (i.e. Spike). I admit that Xander was tops on my list, if we’d had a boy instead of two lovely ladies. Check out what became of these names after the show ended.

Buffy If a kick-ass vamp slayer like Ms. Summers can’t resurrect Buffy from the dead, nothing will. And though she saved the world (a lot), she wasn’t able to save her name from remaining at the bottom of the heap. Buffy is among the goofiest nicknames for Elizabeth.

Angel Buffy’s true love—a vampire with a soul—gets the deep name of Angel. The name was on an upswing before the show even aired, but it’s been a consistent top 100 choice ever since.

Willow The nature name Joss chose for Buffy’s geek-chic best friend (and future most-powerful-witch-in-the-universe) was barely in the top 1000 when the show started, and now is continuing its rise, currently ranking as the 171st most popular name for girls in the U.S. (You can also thank Will and Jada Smith, who picked it for their daughter during this same timeframe.)

Xander This short form of Alexander clearly got a boost from its pop culture association—it didn’t even register on the charts when the show first aired, and it’s now nearing the top 200 names. You can bet, too, that more than a few of the babies named Alexander (it’s currently #9 on the charts) actually go by Xander instead.

Cordelia Buffy’s high-school mean-girl frenemy scored a name that wasn’t exactly apropos (it’s Latin for “heart”). Despite its sweet meaning, its illustrious past (it’s one of King Lear’s daughters in Shakespeare’s masterpiece), and this pop-culture reference, it still hasn’t cracked the top 1000 names in decades.

Anya This Russian variant on Ann was picked for a former vengeance demon and reluctant member of Buffy’s “Scooby Gang,” and perhaps one of my favorite characters on the show. The name zoomed up the charts after the character was introduced in the show, and it’s currently in the top 400 names.

Rupert Sadly, neither Buffy’s guiding force, Watcher Rupert Giles, nor Rupert Grint, the actor who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series, was able to bring this name into prominence in the U.S. (It is still pretty popular in the UK, though.) I kind of like the funky “Ripper” nickname the bookish Mr. Giles had from his bad-boy rebellious stage.

Spike If you’re really daring, you might want to name your child after Buffy’s other great love—one of the most vicious vamps around, who Buffy helped tame. But you might be better off giving your child this character’s given name, top-10 classic William, and then just calling him Spike around the house.

Faith There’s a whole convoluted story about how Buffy went from being the only slayer in the world to having a second one to join her fight. And Faith represented the wild side of Slayerdom—and later became a good girl gone bad. Faith was already on the rise into the top 100 when the character appeared—and it’s had continued popularity ever since.

Wesley If your only experience with Wesley Wyndham-Pryce was Buffy, you probably wouldn’t be too keen on the name—Faith’s Watcher Guide was a major-league prig and a bit of a wuss. But his character was developed more extensively on the spinoff series Angel, where he became quite a hero. Unfortunately, he seemed to have little positive effect on the course of the name—it made a small dip during the series run, but is now back up near the top 150 names for boys in the U.S.

There were some other great choices, too—I loved the names Warren and Glory, even if they were major league baddies. Were you a big-league Buffy fan—or a fan of any of these names? What was your favorite episode?

Want to vote on a few fab baby names? Check out our Name Game for more. (Oh, and don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest in baby names!)

Image: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

 

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