Last-Minute Baby Naming
In Real Life
, parents tend to use the entire nine months between conception and birth to think up nice names. They buy baby books, make compromises, and if they don't know the sex of the baby then they'd choose one for each gender, just to be prepared, or maybe they go for something of an ambiguous gender
But not in media or TV shows... In most media, parents go the entire
nine months without even thinking or talking about this important issue. When it finally
comes to the birth, one of the parents says "What should we call him/her?" and then they patch together a name right on the spot while holding their child — with minimal, if any, need for discussion on the matter between the two parents. A Line-of-Sight Name
or Dead Guy Junior
names are very common. Naming it after the mother or father's deceased parent is a particularly common option. If it's a kid's show or book, then an older sibling may even be allowed to choose the name. On the other hand, the Giver of Lame Names
is also liable to show up.
While it does sometimes happen
in Real Life
that parents wait to the last minute to name their child, usually because they want to be inspired upon finally seeing the child, or one of them is fixed on a name that the other can't stand, it seems highly unlikely that it is as common as the trope's frequency implies.
Compare Line-of-Sight Name
, Meaningful Name
Anime and Manga
- A chapter in Oi Shinbo revolves around the Official Couple deciding on names for their twins after the birth. The male lead has to be extra convincing to explain the Meaningful Name he's giving his daughter.
- In Dragon Ball, Goku and Chi Chi had a hard time thinking of a name for their firstborn son after he was born. Until Chi Chi's father realized that the baby responded the best to Goku's grandpa Gohan's name and the rest was history.
- Present in poor Lucy's background in Servant × Service. Her parents couldn't pick a name, and asked for suggestions from people they knew. They still hadn't decided on any from said list of names when their daughter was born... so they gave her all of them.
- In Sand Chronicles, it's not known if Chii's parents think about her name before her birth but either way it's her maternal grandma that ends up naming her on the spot at the hospital after she's born. She's named after her mother's old dog Chiroru as it was very strong. The mother isn't impressed even though the grandma sees it as a Meaningful Name, but the name goes ahead.
- In Baby Blues, Wanda and Darryl's third child is only named Wren because a bird flew into the window while Wanda was recovering in the hospital.
- For a while after he was born, Hammie did not have a name, due to Darryl and Wanda mistakenly believing they were having a girl. It wasn't until after they brought him home that Darryl came up with the name "Hamish," after one of his relatives. It took their family members some time to get used to the name.
- Yolanda and Mike, Darryl and Wanda's Black Best Friends, didn't decide on a name for their oldest daughter, Keesha, until after they brought her home. Bunny also didn't initially have names for her twins Wendell John and Wendell Jon, instead referring to them by the colors on their wristbands ("Puce" and "Teal").
- In Saga, new parents Alana and Marko are implied to not really have given much thought to a name for their newborn mixed-species child. After noting that her eyes are neither green (like Alana's) or brown (like Marko's), but a mixture, they decide on "Hazel".
- In The Sandman, Lyta Hall doesn't name her baby boy for a while after he was born. When Dream visits the boy, whom he considers special and a worthy heir to his title because he's a child that was born in the realm of dreams, he casually mentions before departing that his name is Daniel. Despite her own issues with Dream, Lyta agrees that "Daniel" is a good name for her son.
- In Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue's baby went nameless for a while after being born. He was finally named Franklin Benjamin Richards, after Sue's deceased father and their friend and teammate Ben Grimm.
Film — Animated
- In Ultimate Re-Imaginings, Claire reveals to Blair that her mother only named her Blair because she was on painkillers at the time and thought it sounded 'cute.' Madame Masque later confesses to Blair that she barely remembered the girl's birth when asked if she remembered her name.
- In the Soul Eater/Naruto crossover He'll Never Be My Son, Crona was named like this, since his parents, Medusa and Orochimaru, consider him a test subject and didn't bother to come up with a name for the whole thirteen months of witch pregnancy. Medusa rejects Kabuto's suggestion immediately (he said she should name the baby Arrow after her), and decides to base the name Crona (from kuro na, meaning "dark one") off Orochimaru's suggestion of Kurohebi ("black snake").
- In Discworld fic Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which deals with Assassins and motherhood, the daughter of Johanna Smith-Rhodes and Ponder Stibbons is done by an informal committee of family and friends gathered at the new mother's bedside. Only one of Johanna's suggested names makes the final cut, and then only as a middle name. The child is finally named after a student Assassin for whom Johanna has a mentor's regard, and only after her name is translated from "Cenotian"note then into Morporkian note and then into Vondalaans note . It is observed that the daughter cannot fail to grow up multi-lingual.
Film — Live Action
- In Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Manny and Ellie have apparently not decided on what to name their child in the entire 22 months of pregnancy that an elephant-sized animal like the Woolly Mammoth will probably undergo. After the baby mammoth's birth, Manny suggests they name her Ellie, but Ellie decides on the name "Peaches", which was their code word for Ellie to tell Manny she was going into labor.
- This happens at the beginning of Star Trek, when Kirk's parents are naming him. He's named for his maternal grandfather, and his middle name is his paternal grandfather's.
- In the third Star Wars prequel movie, Padme doesn't name her twins until they are born, and she's dying. Justified, since it's entirely possible that Padme and Anakin had discussed the names beforehand (like they had in the novelization). However, since Anakin is not allowed to be married or have children, she couldn't really talk about such things with anyone else; when she does give birth, it's quite a bit late for such worries to be relevant.
- Subverted in the sequel to Meet the Parents, where a new mother is clearly about to name her son after her male nurse, only to stop when she sees that his name is "Gaylord."
- Happens in WarCraft, where despite Draka having thought of the name a few days before birth, Durotan insists that he names the child and only comes around to do this a few days after the kid is born, just before he's taken by Blackhand to be imprisoned.
- Happens a lot in the Book of Genesis. Probably the most memorable examples would be Jacob's sons, but other examples abound.
- Most of those would be arguable (maybe Jacob's wives did plan in advance?), but Benjamin was almost certainly this trope, since his name according to Gen. 35:16-20 means "son of consolation" and refers to the fact that his mother Rachel died giving birth to him. (Other etymologies of the name are "son of my right hand" and "son of happiness"). For that matter, Jacob himself: his name means "Heel" because he was born clutching his twin brother's foot. (Said brother was named Esau, "Hairy," which he was.)
- The Parasol Protectorate: Alexia and Conall Maccon don't talk about baby names at all for the entire time Alexia is pregnant, and name their daughter on the spot after she's born. Until that point Alexia just called her the 'infant-inconvenience'.
- Justified because they spend the first chunk of Alexia's pregnancy dealing with the whole Mistaken for Cheating issue, and not talking to each other about anything, much less baby names.
- In The Reynard Cycle, Pinsard is named shortly after birth, when he repeatedly pinches his father's skin (his name translates to "Pincher.") This is justified by the fact that his mother had previously lost a child during childbirth, and she wanted to wait to see if her child would survive the pregnancy.
- Justified in A Song of Ice and Fire. With the Grim Up North conditions behind the wall, the mortality of children is so high that naming one that hasn't yet grown enough to walk is considered Tempting Fate.
- In I Should Have Seen It Coming When the Rabbit Died by Teresa Bloomingdale, Teresa gives birth to her 3rd child. Her husband comes into her hospital room saying "That baby isn't Jimmy!". Her initial response is "Well, it certainly isn't Mary!" (They'd picked the name James for a boy, Mary for a girl. They did use those names for later arrivals.) They finally decide the baby is Michael.
- In To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Maureen and Brian had chosen a name ahead of time for one of their children ... trouble was, they'd assumed Maureen was carrying a girl and the kid was male. Since the birth took place as Presidential election results were being announced, the baby was named Woodrow Wilson Smith. (Justified as there weren't any scientific prenatal tests for gender in 1912, though you'd think they would have picked a backup male name just in case.)
- In A Yellow Raft In Blue Water, Christine originally thought her child was going to be a boy, and so planned on calling him Ray. When it turned out to be a girl, and her husband Elgin planned on calling her Diane, Christine defended her decision to still call her Ray and wound up picking Rayona after glancing at the tag on her hospital gown and seeing the word Rayon.
- In Rosemary Wells's picture book, Use Your Words, Sophie!, the baby is variously called Amber, Ashleigh and Amber Ashleigh because her parents can't agree on what to name her. Furthermore, it seems like nothing can stop her crying. At the end of the book, she is soothed when her big sister, Sophie, names her Jane because, as Sophie explains, "She wants to be called Jane."
- In Planet Tad, Tad's parents can't agree on whether to call the baby "Kenneth" or "Steven," so he remains nameless when they bring him home, until Tad suggests "Kevin" as a compromise. Tad's glad this is accepted, since his other suggestion was going to be "Stenneth."
- Similar to the "Babygirl" examples under Real Life, a minor unseen character in The Wee Free Men is Miss Female Infant Robinson, who was brought up in a Home for the Destitute, and who got her name due to her dying mother assuming that since it was written down, it must be official.
- Community: After Chang helped Shirley through her child delivery, she decides to name her baby after him. Then she realizes how unfortunate "Ben Bennett" sounds, but sticks with it anyways.
- Ross names his son Ben after a series of mishaps which befall Ross and his ex-wife's partner at the hospital while she's busy having the baby; at one point there is a janitor's coverall involved which has the name "Ben" on it. Prior to that they had been feuding for weeks over what to name him.
- Also from Friends: Rachel and Ross had decided on a name before the baby was born but realized it didn't fit. When Monica tells Rachel that she plans to name her own future daughter Emma, Rachel likes the name so much that Monica lets her have it.
- Later, when the woman giving birth to the child they are adopting then has a second child (unknown twin), they name the boy after Monica's father and the girl after the childrens' birth mother, Erica, despite the fact Monica has thought up a ton of names beforehand.
- Variant with Phoebe (along with her brother and sister - in - law) who pick the names well in advance when she serves as a surrogate for them. Expecting two boys and a girl, each of the parents picks a name for a child that matches their own gender, and ask Phoebe to name the second boy. She decides on Chandler after her dear friend. But after giving birth to a boy and then a girl when the third child arrives, it turns out when there was a misreading of the ultrasound... and... well...
- Game of Thrones: Justified in the case of Gilly's son, since she had every reason to believe he would be given to the White Walkers within days anyway.
- Clare on Lost doesn't name her baby "Aaron" until after he's born, resulting in a "who's that" reaction from Charlie after she uses the name for the first time.
- Mad About You: Paul and Jamie name the baby Mabel, after a remark by Jaime's mom. "Mothers always bring extra love." It's the topper to a bunch of parenting advice she gives them, all of which have Fun with Acronyms as mnemonic devices except that one (until Jamie notices it). While Paul and Jaime think it's a touching choice, none of their friends or family are impressed with the idea or particularly agree with the odd choice. And, in the Distant Finale, neither is their daughter when the meaning is explained to her as a teenager who wants to know why she was given such a weird sounding name.
- In The Secret Life of the American Teenager, this happens three times.
- Amy gives birth to her son at the end of the first season and, having not thought about any names, her sister offers up the name John. (Possibly justified in that Amy hadn't been certain for most of the pregnancy that she wouldn't give the baby up for adoption.)
- In the second season, Amy's brother Robbie is born, and is named on the spot after her grandfather.
- At the end of the third season, Adrian and Ben's daughter is stillborn. They hadn't discussed names at all during the pregnancy, but it is revealed the following season that they named her Mercy.
- Murphy Brown went even further, having gone through multiple names for her unborn child during her pregnancy and kept going even after he was born. Eventually she names him "Avery" after her recently deceased mother.
- On Roseanne, Jackie bemoans the fact that she's in labor and hasn't even picked out a name yet. Her mother Bev cheerfully suggests that she just pick anything and get it changed later if she wants. She then reveals that they actually did this with Jackie, who was originally Marjorie. Actually, she admits that they may not have gotten all the paperwork done for that, and suddenly Jackie is freaked out that she doesn't know her own name either.
- Justified on Angel—Darla wanted to just get rid of her pregnancy, but can't, Angel just found out the child existed and nobody was sure if it would even be a baby or some sort of demonic monster, since vampires aren't supposed to be fertile in the first place. Then half of L.A.'s supernatural community was hunting the kid for various reasons, and a full episode after the baby was born Angel just announces his name is Connor when the doctor asks (and his friends, who brought him, are stymied for an answer).
- Danny and Lindsay on CSI: NY don't agree on their baby's name even after she's born. Danny says 'Lucy' and Lindsay says 'Lydia'. (It's said in the next season to be Lucy.)
- Toby on the The West Wing names his daughter 'Molly' after a secret service agent who died on the same day his daughter was born.
- Susan and Mike on Desperate Housewives discuss what to name their son before deciding to name him Connor...until Mike's grandfather dies and he wants to name their son in his memory. The problem? His name was Maynard. Despite Susan's distress and discomfort over the choice, and attempts to change it, she has a change of heart after Mike explains how much his grandfather meant to him. Thankfully, the kid is referred to as "MJ" in following seasons.
- The only time baby names are mentioned for Crichton and Aeryn's baby in Farscape is during a brief joke in The Peacekeeper Wars. They end up pulling a Dead Guy Junior at the end of the movie and naming him D'Argo Sun Crichton.
- Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: Just prior to returning to Dino Earth, Asuka and Mahoro name their baby daughter (Who was around for quite a few episodes) "Mikoto" after the deceased Abarekiller
- Stargate Atlantis: It is unclear how last minute the decision was for Teyla, though she could be excused for not focusing on baby names while she was kidnapped. Regardless, she names her child, several hours after his birth, Torren John Emmagan, for her father and her teammate (plus her own last name).
- In Being Human, George and Nina's daughter remains nameless for the first few weeks of her life. The delay is partly due to the fact that the werewolf gestation period is unexpectedly much shorter than the human gestation period and partly due to the fact that George and Nina are major targets of the vampires' plan for world domination. George manages to name the child "Eve" as he dies.
- On Charmed, the Halliwell family has had nothing but girls for generations, and Piper met her daughter Melinda when she traveled to an alternate future...leading to quite a surprise when she gave birth to a son. An episode goes by while they decide what to name him, and end up with Wyatt Matthew Halliwell ("Wyatt" being his father's surname, "Matthews" that of his maternal aunt).
- The Bill:
- WPC Polly Page helps deliver a baby, but the mother doesn't name the baby after her because it "sounds like a parrot".
- In another episode PC Reg Hollis helps deliver a baby. The parents would have named the child 'Reg', except it was girl. Hollis suggested 'Regina', but the parents decided against it.
- In Scrubs, when nobody except J.D. remembers to show up and congratulate her on the birth, Jordan casually accepts his suggestion of a name for her new daughter, "Jennifer Dylan". In large part this is to spite the father, Dr. Cox (who can't stand J.D.'s attempts to be close to him), by not only letting him name the child but also do it after himself (consider the initials).
- At the end of the Star Trek episode "Friday's Child", it is revealed what guest star of the week Eleen has named her newly-born son:
Spock: The child was named Leonard James Akaar?
McCoy: Has a kind of a ring to it, don't you think, James?
Kirk: Yes. I think it's a name destined to go down in galactic history, Leonard. What do you think, Spock?
Spock: I think you're both going to be insufferably pleased with yourselves for at least a month... sir.
- Wakka and Lulu's son in Final Fantasy X-2 doesn't get named unless you complete a sidequest, and if you fail or skip the quest, then Rikku jokes that the kid might go nameless until he hits puberty.
- By the way, if completed, the kid's name is revealed as Vidina, Al Bhed for 'future'. Not bad, considering that a year ago, the father was racist toward the Al Bhed.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Oracles of Ages/Seasons, there's a farmer, his wife, and their unnamed newborn son. They decide to let you, a complete stranger, name their child for them.
- In Tomodachi Life the trope is played oddly. When a baby is born, the parents tell you they have thought about giving the baby a random name. However, it's up to the player to either approve that name, ask them to think of another or make up a completely different name.
- In one episode of South Park, Kenny's mom is pregnant. After his Once an Episode death, the baby is born and the parents decide to name the new baby Kenny.
Mrs. McCormick: Fifty-second.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Ying and Than, the expecting couple whom Aang helps in The Serpent's Pass, don't name their baby until she is born. The child, Hope, becomes the only character in the show with a non-Asian name.
- The Flintstones named Pebbles only as soon as she was born. Ditto for a grown-up Pebbles' own children, Roxy and Chip, in Hollyrock-a-Bye Baby.
- Justified in the first Rugrats movie—Stu and Didi apparently thought that Dil would be a girl, and had to revise their plan to name "her" after Stu's mother.
Didi: He doesn't look like a Trixie.
- In Franklin and the Green Knight, when Franklin's baby sister is brought home, Granny Turtle asks if they have a name for her, resulting in a sort of embarrassed mutter from Mr. Turtle about how they "have some ideas." Franklin then brightly says that they should call her Harriet, because Great Aunt Harriet always gives the best presents and the baby is sort of like the perfect present. Everyone agrees.
- In "The Baby is Here" from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Daniel's baby sister is just "the baby" up until she's brought home and a brief bit afterwards. She is named Margaret on-the-spot when Daniel mentions his favorite picture book, Margaret's Music, and Mr. Tiger recalls a Grandma Margaret that was very dear to him.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the Season 6 premiere "The Crystalling", Shining Armor and Cadence's new foal was nameless until the very end (days after her birth), when they name her Flurry Heart based on her involvement in the the gang's latest adventure.
Twilight Velvet: Cadence, darling, aren't we gonna name the poor little dear, or are we gonna spend our entire visit just calling her "the baby"?
- On Doc McStuffins, the McStuffins family doesn't yet have a name for the baby in the adoption arc when they bring her home, though the birth mother likes "Alanna," so they use that as a middle name. Mr. McStuffins admits also they didn't have names for Doc (Dottie) and Donnie when they were first born either. One of the episodes of the adoption arc, "Baby Names," is about choosing a name. (It's Maya.)
- Queen Victoria's parents wanted to name her Georgina in honor of her uncle, Prince George of Wales, but he vetoed it at the christening. So instead she was christened Alexandrina Victoria after her most high-ranking godfather, Czar Alexander I of Russia, and her mother Mary Louise Victoria, Duchess of Kent (who herself had been christened Marie Louise Victoire in her native Saxe-Coburg).
- In places that have a high infant mortality rate, it was not uncommon for that culture to adopt a custom of not naming their baby until it was older, just in case it died later on.
- It's also not uncommon for parents to name a baby as an afterthought if the baby isn't the gender the parent(s) were hoping for and/or the baby turned out to be two (or more) babies, and the parent(s) weren't prepared with multiple names, or if they just weren't flat out aware they were expecting at all.
- Certain names relate to the date of a child's birth—for example, "Natalia", "Natalie", "Natasha" and "Noel(le)" traditionally were given to children born on Christmas. In many African cultures it was common to name a child a certain name depending on what day of the week (s)he was born.
- Other names of this type are Pascal, Pascale, Pasquale, Paschalis (Easter) and the French Toussaint (All Saints' Day). The names Dominic, Dominique, Domingo etc. are frequently used for children born on a Sunday, at least by Catholics.
- Another thing common among Christians of various denominations is to name a child after a saint on whose day it is born or baptized or after one or more of its godparents.
- King Jaume of Aragon got his name in a somewhat unusual way — when he was born, his mother gave the name of the Apostles to twelve candles, lit them, and waited to see which one would burn out last. St. James' candle lasted the longest, so the prince was named in the saint's honor (Jaume being the Catalan version of James).
- In Jewish custom, a baby isn't given its name until the 8th day of its life, when it's formally dedicated and boys are circumcised. In Biblical times, this included going to the temple and offering a sacrifice, though it's naturally a bit different today.
- Babies born out of wedlock and given to adoption were often given the name of the saint whose holiday it was on the day they were born, so their name day coincided with their birthday.
- Occasionally, a side-effect of painkillers may make the mother loopy enough to accidentally forget her planned names, or try to name the baby after a plant or something else random. The staff usually waits for the medication to wear off before letting her near the birth certificate.
- Foundlings, in older days, might have been named just about anything. In more recent, bureaucratised times, at least in the USA, they are usually given birth certificates with the "placeholder" names of Babyboy and Babygirl registered, pending adoption and renaming by their adoptive parents. Some of the girls retain the name "Babygirl" into adulthood.
- Pets are often given their names spontaneously, often in response to something - coat markings, a habit, an amusing incident - that's observed when they're selected or brought home by their new owners. As most kinds of pets give birth to litters, not singleton offspring, it's also common for home breeders to wait until after the birth to start coming up with names, as they don't know how many names they'll actually need until then.
- Bindi Sue Irwin of Crocodile Hunter fame was named on the delivery table. Her parents had been convinced they were going to have a boy and were surprised when they ended up with a girl. She was named after a crocodile and the family dog.