Would you call your child Maverick or Thor? The improbable rise of baby name maximalism

Parents are increasingly naming their children after the lead characters in popular films and TV shows such as Top Gun, Wednesday, Killing Eve and … Dahmer

Name: Main character energy

Age: The phrase is a 2021 TikTok coinage but the concept was first explored in the 2006 film The Holiday, with Kate Winslet’s character urged to “be the leading lady” of her own life.

Appearance: Distinctive and dramatic.

A bold claim for a 2021 TikTok hashtag. You realise that’s positively Precambrian in TikTok years? Aha, but main character energy (behaving as if you’re the protagonist in a film) has recently been revived to describe a new baby-naming trend. According to baby-naming podcast host SJ Strum, people are increasingly naming their kids after strong lead characters from film and television.

There’s a baby-naming podcast? Hey, I listen to one where French medieval history students explain their thesis topics; this is absolutely mainstream. Also, a podcast with an episode called “Is Omelette an OK Baby Name … Discuss” deserves our respect.

That’s ridiculous – just ask my sons, Benedict and Rancheros. What kind of main characters are we talking about? Strum says Maverick is gaining in popularity since the new Top Gun film. There are also more Thors and Marilyns, and at least one Villanelle.

Yikes. I guess little Villanelle’s parents don’t believe in nominative determinism? You’d hope. Apparently, there are more Jeffreys, too, since Netflix’s Dahmer series.

Pff, there are lots of famous Jeffs. Maybe the parents were delighted with their Christmas Amazon deliveries? Are we sure Jeff Bezos is a more auspicious namesake?

You make a fair point. What other lead character names are popular? Well, apparently Wednesday is “hitting the baby name lists” after the release of Tim Burton’s new Addams Family series.

Wednesday, nickname Hump? No. Strum says it has “a unique, whimsical sound” and you can shorten it to “Ness”, which makes it “more wearable”, but she does also caution it’s “a pretty dull day”.

Aren’t people setting their children up for ridicule with these types of names? Not to mention a life of disappointment. You would certainly need to be a particular type of person to cope with being called Thor or Maverick. Strum agrees it could be a burden growing up with a cult character name. She tends to recommend “names that align with the parents’ own life experiences – such as special places, shared interests, [an] inspiring person”.

The classic celeb approach: Brooklyn Beckham, Chicago West, Jupiter SheeranI don’t think even Ed Sheeran is rich enough to conceive a child on Jupiter. None of this would be possible in France, of course, where they have banned parents from calling kids Nutella and Griezmann Mbappé, among other things.

Very sensible. What would your main character baby name be? Monty, as in Don. What’s more heroic than battling slugs?

Do say: “We wanted something charismatic and unique …”

Don’t say: “… so meet little Alien and Chucky!”

The GuardianTramp

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