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Baby Name Trend Killer

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Popular culture and history has been known to bring rise to several popular baby names. A popular character or beloved celebrity can inspire people to name their own babies in their honor.

Unfortunately, the opposite can happen as well. An extremely controversial public figure or a despised fictional character could bear a popular name. All of a sudden, everyone will immediately associate the name with that character or personality. As a result, the name's popularity drops off a cliff — people stop giving it to their babies and people who already bear the name will be in a very awkward position.

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See also One Mario Limit, Distanced from Current Events, Outdated Name, Trend Killer.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Films — Animated 
  • While it was never an extremely popular name, "Ursula" used to have its fans, and was associated with Bond girl Ursula Andress. This all changed with the 1989 release of The Little Mermaid, which featured an overweight, humanoid-octopus hybrid sea witch named Ursula as its main antagonist. Today, the name is usually thought of as "ugly" and is firmly associated with the Disney villain (though the plucky and relatably ordinary Ursula from Spider-Man 2 provided some unexpected relief on that score).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "Carrie" was quickly rising in popularity in the early '70s (peaking at #28 in 1976) but fell off just as quickly in the latter half of the decade, owing to the popularity of the 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie making the name a lasting shorthand for somebody (especially a woman) who violently snaps after being pushed too far.
  • Oddly enough, while "Damien" spiked as a boy's name in the late '70s thanks to The Omen (1976), the same can't be said of the similar-sounding "Damon", which collapsed in popularity around the same time.
  • While "Jason" remains a modestly popular boy's name (having only left the top 100 in 2019), it saw a noticeable dropoff in popularity in The '80s after having been one of the top ten boy's names from 1971 through '83. Being the name of Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th films, an iconic Slasher Movie killer who's characterized as a mindless, violent brute, will do that.

    Literature 
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In the United States, the name "Barney" had already fallen out of use by the time Barney & Friends came out, but the show's poor reception among those outside its target audience made it so hated that it could never make a comeback, and put people already named Barney in an awkward position. It doesn't help that B&F aired around the same time as the early seasons of The Simpsons, as seen in the Western Animation folder, which also has a character named Barney, albeit one known for his Alcohol-Induced Idiocy.
  • While "Ellen" remains a popular girl's name in Europe, the same can't be said about the US. During the '50s, about 5,000 girls were given that name in the US every year. While it sank steadily in popularity during the next few decades and had a minor resurgence in the early '90s, this resurgence stopped in 1997 — coinciding with Ellen DeGeneres (and her character in the TV show Ellen) coming out as a lesbian, after which the name became heavily associated with the lesbian community. After this, the name's popularity would continue to sink further for several decades in the US.
  • The boy's name "Kermit" had already undergone a large decline before The Muppets, but that series was the killing blow — nowadays the name is virtually unusable due to its association with the frog.
  • The popularity of "Elmo" was well past its peak even before Sesame Street, but that series made it unusable thanks to its strong association with the character of the same name.
  • "Jade" had been a moderately popular name in the UK since the 1980s, but after Jade Goody made her first appearance on Big Brother in 2002, the name went from being in the top 30 to outside the top 100 in four years, and outside the top 300 by the end of the decade. Ms. Goody had a reputation for being a stupid, bigoted Lower-Class Lout and "the most hated woman in Britain", and new parents collectively thought "we aren't calling our little girl that." Not even Goody's death from cancer in 2009 or the popularity of Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix changed that. Notably, this happened only in the UK; in the US, the name reentered the top 100 in 2020, and in France, it's been in the top 10 since 2005 and was #1 in 2014 and 2020.
  • In the late '80s, the Australian Sketch Comedy series The Comedy Company featured a character named Kylie Mole, an obnoxious Lower-Class Lout schoolgirl who popularized the word "bogan" as an insult. The name "Kylie" promptly collapsed in popularity in Australia and New Zealand as it came to be seen as a stereotypical bogan name, a state of affairs that not even the contemporaneous success of Kylie Minogue or the 21st-century prominence of Kylie Jenner could fix. (Notably, around the same time, the name exploded in popularity in the US, where it has been in the top 200 girls' names since 1994.)
  • The name "Toby" steadily became commonplace in the mid-20th century, entering the Top 200 in 1975. Then came Roots (1977) where Kunta Kinte was forced into being called "Toby" after his capture and enslavement. Popularity dropped like a rock soon afterward. Despite a brief resurgence in the Turn of the Millennium, "Toby" has never been as widespread as it was before Roots. That said, it didn't affect the popularity of the name in the UK.
  • The popularity of HBO's Game of Thrones led to an explosion of children named after people from the show, particularly Main Character Daenerys ("də-NAIR-iss"), a Princess in Rags who becomes The Cape and the first Dragon Rider in centuries; her title, "Khaleesi" ("kah-LEE-see"), which she gets from being the wife of Mongolian Khal, also got taken up as a name (and in fact, there's significantly more little girls named "Khaleesi" than "Daenerys"). When the show's last-minute Plot Twist involved Dany Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and changing from Big Good to Big Bad, the furor was newsworthy.
  • The name "Caleb", after rising in popularity through the '80s and '90s, started falling off after 2003 when a particularly nasty villain on Buffy the Vampire Slayer received that name.
  • "Vicky" as a nickname for Victoria fell out of favour in the UK in the mid-2000s due to the character of Vicky Pollard from Little Britain, a stupid, obnoxious female chav incapable of doing much besides inanely gossiping in a dumb accent.
  • The show I'm Alan Partridge gave the name Alan an association with the character (who is an obnoxious radio host/failed television presenter), which contributed to it losing popularity.
  • Peep Show may have contributed to the declining popularity of the name "Ian". Sophie insists on naming her and Mark's son "Ian", after her father, which Mark thinks is a particularly dull choice of name.

    Music 
  • Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" is often held as the point of origin for "Becky" as a slang term for a narrow-minded and casually racist white woman. While Becky (and its full form, Rebecca) had been declining from the peaks of their popularity at that point, by the mid-'90s Becky had fallen out of the top one thousand girls' names even as Rebecca remained modestly popular. Notably, nowadays younger Rebeccas are more likely to abbreviate their name to "Becca" than "Becky". Starting in the 2010s, the name "Becky" saw use in the incel community in reference to a Hollywood Homely Beta Bitch who thinks she's too good to date regular men (see the "Real Life — Miscellaneous" folder for more on that).

    Professional Wrestling 

    Western Animation 
  • The boys' name (never especially common) "Nimrod", originally named after a mighty hunter from the Book of Genesis, started falling out of popularity in the United States in the 1930s once it became a pejorative for a dimwitted or stupid person. This usage—at least according to some authorities—comes from the Looney Tunes, in which both Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck sarcastically call Elmer Fudd a "Nimrod" to belittle his hunting prowess. The reference flew over the heads of manynote , and they just interpreted it as a straight insult (probably helped by aural similarity to terms like "nitwit" and "nincompoop"). The name still sees usage in other countries, however, most notably in Hungary, where it started rising in the late '00s and entered the top 25 boys' names in 2017.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants may have been responsible for the name "Patrick" steadily declining in popularity since the early 2000s. It used to be a perennial favorite, one of the top 50 most popular boy's names in the United States from 1948 through 1996, but it fell out of the top 200 by 2019, its lowest position since record-keeping began in 1880. Understandably, not many millennial parents want to name their sons after an overweight, dimwitted pink starfish.
  • Similar to the Patrick example, the name "Peter", another perennial favorite (coming from Pope Saint Peter the Apostle), dropped the most it ever had in history in 2000, the year after the premiere of Family Guy (whose main character Peter Griffin is an overweight and dimwitted lout). It's had a steady decline since.
  • In the Spanish dub of Top Cat, Benny is named "Benito". Due to this, the name became unpopular in Mexico as it began to mean 'fat', relating to Benny's shape.
  • The name "Donald" has been in decline ever since 1934 when Donald Duck debuted in The Wise Little Hen as one of the lazy animals. He went on to become one of history's most famous cartoon characters because of how entertaining his numerous character flaws are, but the same flaws made people reluctant to name their children in a way that would get them associated with him. The decline was slow, however — it remained in the top 20 until 1960.
  • Not that they were ever particularly popular names, but the names Homer and Bart are so strongly associated with The Simpsons that you are unlikely to meet anyone with either name who wasn't born before it aired (1987 for the shorts, 1989 for the series proper). The same is true with the name Barney after Barney Gumble, an alcoholic best known for his Alcohol-Induced Idiocy (and it doesn't help that Gumble shares his given name with a certain loathed dinosaur as mentioned in the Live-Action TV folder).
  • Played With in the case of the nickname "Vicky" for "Victoria", thanks to The Fairly OddParents. While the name Victoria itself has oscillated in popularity in the 21st century, nowadays the diminutive Vicky has become rarer thanks to the series' resident Babysitter from Hell. This might have caused some women named Victoria to instead use "Vic" or "Tori" as nicknames.

    Real Life — Musicians 
  • The popularity of "Miley" for girls saw a brief spike in the late '00s thanks to Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus, but fell off just as quickly after she embraced a Hotter and Sexier image post-Disney.
  • Happened to "Courtney" in the US and Canada in the latter half of The '90s due to Courtney Love. While she was a successful musician with the band Hole in the earlier half of the decade, when the name was among the top 25 American girls' names, later on she became better known for her personal problems than her music as well as one of the worst cases of Yoko Oh No since Yoko herself. To put it bluntly: there are a lot of Nirvana fans who blame her for Kurt Cobain's death, be it through her behavior enabling his drug use and driving him to kill himself or, worse, having him murdered and staging it to look like a suicide. Needless to say, few parents in the '90s, many of whom were in the age range to be Nirvana fans who were affected by his death, wanted to name their little girls Courtney after that. Notably, outside the US and Canada in countries where grunge wasn't so big, the name's decline happened later and more slowly, and it remained notably popular in the UK until the 2010s.
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    Real Life — Politics and Military 
  • Unsurprisingly, the name "Adolf" plummeted off a cliff after Hitler came to power in Germany, and it was almost unheard of by the time he killed himself in 1945. The related name Adolph had been popular in Sweden, but it too died in popularity.
    • Similarly, if one goes back and looks at an NYC phone book from the late 1930s, there are dozens of people with the last name of "Hitler." Ten years later, the name was all but gone. Why? Almost everyone with that last name had changed it.
  • "Monica" was a popular girls' name from The '60s until 1998 when the Monica Lewinsky scandal came to light and caused it to rapidly decline in popularity.
  • Another Clinton-related example: while "Hillary" saw a brief spike in 1992, the year Bill Clinton was elected President and Hillary Rodham Clinton became First Lady, the name's popularity quickly crashed to an even lower level than before as Hillary, often caricatured as a ball-busting feminist harpy by late-night comics and right-wing media, became a lightning rod for critics of the Clinton administration.
  • The girls' name "Isis" used to evoke Ancient Egypt, but it was killed stone-dead in 2014 by the terrorist campaign of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, known in the West by its acronym ISIS. It was most pronounced in the Netherlands, where it had been in the top 100 girls' names in 2013 only to crash out of the rankings immediately after. The connotations were bad enough that some women and girls named Isis switched to using their middle names instead. Even fictional organizations got affected; on Archer, the spy agency the protagonists work for had to be hastily retooled from a fictional one called the International Secret Intelligence Service to the CIA.
  • "Vidkun" was never a very popular Norwegian name, but it was completely killed after World War II due to its association with Vidkun Quisling, a Nazi collaborator who was executed after the war. Most of the other names associated with executed collaborators were unscathed, but "Vidkun" had the misfortune of being associated with the leader of the puppet regime, who was both very visible and also responsible for the infamous 1940 coup attempt, and the name's low popularity before Quisling ensured that it would primarily be associated with him.
  • "Donald" was already in decline by the 2010s, in part thanks to its association with the foul-tempered Donald Duck, but fell hard in the 2016-2020 period, when the extremely polarizing Donald Trump successfully ran for President.

    Real Life — Crime 
  • "Jared" was popular through the '80s and '90s but fell off quickly afterwards, due to its association with Jared Fogle. Even before he was outed as a predatory pedophile in 2015, his job as the pitchman for the sandwich chain Subway had him play the role of a Formerly Fat and Endearingly Dorky schlub who quickly became the subject of parodies, most notably a South Park episode.
  • The name "Myra" was forever destroyed in the UK due to its association with Myra Hindley, one of the perpetrators of the notorious 'Moors Murders' in The '60s. Oddly, Ian Brady (the other perpetrator) didn't have the same effect on Ian, although it has declined in popularity, particularly since the infamy of another murderer with that name, Ian Huntley.
  • In The Netherlands, the name Joran steadily increased in popularity from the '80s through the early '00s, then took a nosedive in 2007 because of Joran van der Sloot's involvement in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. The name disappeared almost completely after 2010 when Van der Sloot was arrested for the murder of Stephany Flores. No Dutch babies have been named Joran since 2016.
  • In Norway, the name "Anders" immediately disappeared from the rankings since 2011 due to its association with Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right extremist who committed the terrorist attacks on 22 July 2011.

    Real Life — Miscellaneous 
  • The popularity of "Katrina" as a name for baby girls increased slightly after the 2005 hurricane, possibly due to the name being endlessly repeated in the media, possibly as a statistical blip. The following years, however, saw Katrina fall rapidly in popularity, owing to its indelible association with the most destructive natural disaster in US history.
  • "Fanny" or "Fannie" is not commonly used as a name anymore due to it becoming slang for the buttocks (USA) and female genitalia (UK).
  • "Karen" may be the first name to be killed by an internet meme. A Nordic variant of "Katherine", it was one of the top ten girls' names from 1951 through 1968 and remained in the top 100 through 1986. Afterwards, it fell off naturally in popularity but didn't become a truly rare name... at least until the late 2010s, when, like "Becky" before it, an unflattering meme emerged that associated the name with a particular type of entitled, reactionary, middle-aged, upper-middle-class, racist suburban mom who treats service workers with disrespect. With that, the popularity of Karen as a girl's name went off a cliff from its already-low position, falling out of the top 800 by 2020 and the top 1000 in 2021.
  • "Chad" can be seen as the Spear Counterpart to "Karen". A surprisingly ancient name (going back to a 7th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop and saint), it was one of the top fifty boys' names from 1971 through 1983 and remained in the top 100 through 1990. But as of 2019, it has fallen out of the top one thousand names for boys. This is seemingly due to the increasing popularity of Virgin vs. Chad memes and the use of the name in the He-Man Woman Hater "incel" subculture, both of which associated it with a particular type of cartoonishly hyper-masculine Jerk Jock who serves as a Privileged Rival to other men looking for love. Notably, there was no corresponding drop-off for the related names Charles and Charlie, which have long been perennial favorites for boys' names and lack the association; Charlie, in fact, has both risen in popularity and become a Gender-Blender Name popular for both boys and girls. (Stacey/Stacy, a name often associated with Chad in the meme as that of his Alpha Bitch girlfriend and which peaked in popularity around the same time, had already fallen out of the top thousand in popularity by the 2010s, though the meme didn't necessarily help it either.)
  • "Alexa" first entered the top 100 girls' names in 1994 and peaked in 2015 at #32, but has been on a rapid decline since then, falling out of the top 100 by 2019 and the top 400 by 2021. The reason? People associating the name with Amazon's home AI assistant (not to be confused with Amazon's Alexa Internet, which tracked web traffic and aggregated websites by popularity; Alexa Internet became defunct in 2022), which was first released in late 2014 with their Echo smart speaker. While there was a boomlet in 2015 due to the novelty of the technology, once the AI assistant caught on the name was linked in the popular imagination with servitude. A similar trajectory happened on a two-year lag in the UK, where the Echo first went on sale in 2016 and the name Alexa started falling off in 2018. While Amazon named it for the Library of Alexandria, they failed to account for how popular Alexa was as a baby name, which led not only to problems for parents with both Amazon Echos and daughters named Alexa but also to those daughters being bullied with jokes about the AI, some of them sexual. (The Apple equivalent Siri also led to a decline in girls bearing that name, though Siri wasn't a particularly popular name to begin with.)
  • "Dick" has been used as a nickname for Richard since the Middle Ages and was common as both a nickname and a given name in the English-speaking world for most of the first half of the 20th Century. As a given name, Dick was among the top 500 boys' names in the US every year through 1953, but increasing use of the word as sexual slang and (starting in the 1960s) as a pejorative for an unpleasant or annoying man led to it rapidly falling out of favor. Nowadays Rick and Rich are the most common nicknames for Richard, and as a given name it's all but disappeared.
  • Once transgender former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner publicly came out in 2015, the popularity of "Caitlyn" and all its variants fell dramatically.
  • In Germany, "Kevin" was an extremely popular boy's name in The '90s, peaking at #1 in 1991, in no small part due to Home Alone. Unfortunately, a stereotype quickly emerged of "Kevin" as a Ghetto Name given to kids by trashy parents in the former East Germany who wanted to seem posh and "American", to the point that "Kevinismus" is regarded as a legitimate social prejudice in Germany. Once that stereotype took hold in the '00s, the name died quickly. Other names saddled with this stereotype include "Justin", "Dennis", and "Marvin" for boys, and "Chantal", "Jaquelin", "Peggy", "Mandy", and "Angelina" for girls.
  • In Brazil, ever since the Ministry of Health had a series of commercials where a man talked to his below-waist friend Bráulio, the name has since gotten the same treatment as "Dick" in English, causing embarrassment for those already named that and being virtually unusable for new children.
  • The boys' name "Gaylord" died a quick death in The '50s as the word "gay" took on its modern connotations of "homosexual". Since then, it's been seen as little more than an invitation for homophobic punchlines and bullying. The girls' name "Gay" took longer to suffer the same fate (a homosexual woman was, and still is, more likely to be called a lesbian than gay, so the insult had less bite), but in The '60s it too went on a downward slide, for much the same reason.
  • The name "Greta" used to evoke an old-school Hollywood star Greta Garbo, but in Sweden, the name disappeared from the chart since 2019 thanks to its association with the polarizing young climate activist Greta Thunberg.
  • Turkey:
    • The male name "Temel" and female name "Fadime" used to be very popular in the Black Sea region of Turkey, particularly among the Laz ethnic group in Trabzon and its surroundings. So popular and iconic were they that when Popeye first arrived in Turkey, the main characters' names were localised into Temel and Fadime. Gradually, however, the name Temel became the basis of ethnic stereotypes that portrayed the Laz people as hyperactive Street Smart Cloudcuckoolanders with a very distinct accent; a debilitating addiction for tea; and a tendency to rattle off in Motor Mouth. A desire to not be stereotyped; cultural drift; and perception of these names as old-fashioned all led to their steep decline in popularity. Some Laz organisations are now trying to incentivise parents to name their kids Temel and Fadime (alongside other more obscure regional names) in the name of cultural preservation.
    • Something similar happened with the name Şaban (Shabhan), a name that was fairly popular, especially in the more rural east. When film actor Kemal Sunal made his debut as a character named Şaban in the immensely-popular series Hababam Sınıfı (The Rowdy Class), his portrayal of his character as a naive, Kind Hearted Simpleton became iconic overnight. In the years that followed, the Şaban persona appeared in numerous other films, embedding the association between Şaban and Book Dumb characters in popular culture. Today, it is rare to find younger people named Şaban outside the more traditional parts of the country, with some linking the name's decline directly to Sunal's portrayal of his character.


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