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?
We all want our kiddos to feel special—so it’s no surprise that unique baby names and unique spellings have become so popular in the U.S. In fact, the number of babies represented in the top 10 names or even the top 1000 names on the Social Security list dwindles each and every year (it’s down by more than five percent over the past several years)—which means that more and more people are choosing names that only a handful of other kiddos get.
And it also means that once you’ve settled on the perfect name for your future kiddo, you tend to get a wee bit territorial about it. Heck, we’ve written articles about baby name stealing, and how much trouble it can cause. And it even ended up becoming a major plot point in an episode of Sex and the City. Remember Charlotte’s much beloved, “made up” baby name Shayla? (P.S. She didn’t make it up—it’s actually an Irish variation on Cecelia!)
It’s twins for country singer Chely Wright and her wife, Lauren Blitzer Wright, who welcomed a pair of sons over the weekend. The two boys were given names that had meaning for the couple—they’re the names of Chely and Lauren’s grandfathers: EverettJoseph and GeorgeSamuel.
Everett is a relatively popular name that means “brave,” and currently is on a major upswing toward the top 200 names. They paired it with the timeless Joseph, a top 20 Biblical name.
George is a Greek name that means farmer. It’s a name that’s on a very slow and steady decline, after decades in the top 20 names. (I still love it, though, for little boys!) It’s a name with a very long and illustrious past, including British royals, our first President, a slew of writers, and of course, a few modern Presidents, too. Samuel is an Old Testament name, which hasn’t been out of the top 100 for over a century. It’s a name that means “told by God,” and it’s currently in the top 25 in the U.S.
What do you think of Chely and Lauren’s choices? Are you planning on any of those names for your baby boy? (Don’t forget to check out our Name Game to tell us what other names you love—or love to hate!)
I tried hard to get into Dr. Who when I was younger—but even though I was digging the extra long scarf sported by the Doctor back when I was a kid, I could never manage to care enough about the Tardis and the Daleks. But I just finished watching the big 50th anniversary episode of the good Doctor’s show, and I have to say I might be interested in watching more. And I especially loved his current companion, Clara Oswin Oswald—the impossible girl who seems to have saved Doctor Who a whole lot. (Reminding me a whole lot of my other favorite girl who saved the world a lot…Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But with a much cooler name.)
Clara’s experienced a resurgence outside of the Doctor’s fans—after a dip through the 198s0 and 1990s, it’s now climbing and currently at #136. It’s a name of Latin descent, and means clear and bright. It also has some lovely historical meaning, thanks to Civil War nurse Clara Barton, silent screen star Clara Bow, and Clara, the lead character in the Christmas classic, Nutcracker. And it’s a nice alternative to the more popular Claire.
Sophia and Jacob may be the most popular U.S. baby names overall, but they aren’t the top names in every state. In fact, Sophia only topped the charts in 17 states, and three names were actually tops in more states than Jacob. (Jacob ranked #1 in four states, while William, Liam and Mason all topped the charts in more states than that.)
But what’s even more interesting are some of the names that made the top 5 in some states, but aren’t even in the top 10 in the U.S. Washington DC had some unique girls’ names, Charlotte and Genesis. Harper was also #4 in Montana, Nebraska, Iowa and North Dakota, and #2 in South Dakota—I’m already predicting that it hits the top 10 next year. Some unique names in the number 5 spot include Aaliyah (New Mexico), Avery (Minnesota), Lily (Utah) and Ella (Vermont).
The boys’ names were even more varied. Henry’s making major inroads—it may be only #43 overall, but it hit the top 5 in Washington DC, Minnesota and Oregon. Logan was in the top five in Hawaii, Idaho, Vermont and Wyoming, while Wyatt continued to be red-hot in the West—it was #3 in Montana and #5 in Wyoming. Some other unique names included Gabriel (#4 in Alaska), Ryan (#3 in Massachusetts), Carter (#3 in Iowa and #5 in Michigan), and Bentley and Hunter, both in the top 5 in West Virginia.
Of course, if you take into account the variety of ways baby names can be spelled—like Sophia/Sofia, Aiden/Aidan/Ayden and other creative spellings, the top names may look pretty different across the board. (Take a look at this top baby girls’ names, compiled by listing all the variant spellings—and you’ll see a different picture of the top baby names.)
What baby names are you hearing a lot where you live? (Check out our Name Game to tell us what other names you love—or love to hate!)