Fiction has an influence on people, both unconsciously and consciously. Many people are inspired by them—to buy things featured in a work, to get pets due to one being featured in a work, or even to name their child (and to a lesser extent, their pet) after a character featured in a work.
If a work is extremely popular, then it often causes a fad where many babies are named after major characters from the work for about a year or two. In hindsight, it can be easy to tell when someone was born if their name was a popular fad name during that period. Usually these fads die out quickly, however some become so popular that they popularize an obscure name (or even a name originally intended for the opposite gender) to the point where the name stays popular long after the popularizing work becomes a distant memory. The bad side of this is that if a name loses popularity after the fad, then it can be awkward for the child later in life (such as if they're named after a fantasy character with an odd name).
Note, that names usually must follow the One Mario Limit (AKA, they're obscure or even invented names). If they're a common name then the work must have been the main cause on why it became (even more) popular all of a sudden.
To see how names have changed in popularity over the years in Britain, visit this page from the Office for National Statistics, which has an interactive chart.
Sub-trope to The Red Stapler.
- In this Nike ad, Wayne Rooney's success starts a trend to name babies "Wayne".
- French Space Opera comic-book Valérian invented the name Laureline for the female protagonist. It is not an unheard name for French women today.
- Inverted in the Triptych Continuum: by tradition, no newborns are ever named after the Princesses, and a mother who'd had just given birth directly told Twilight that nopony would ever be given that name again.
Film — Animation
- Shortly after Frozen came out, "Elsa" and "Anna" became amongst the Top 10 names for girl's in many countries.
- Thanks to the popularity of Frozen, and Elsa in particular, Elsa's name broke into the Top 100 names for baby girls in the UK.
- In Japan, the names Anna and Rin (which means cold) were two of the top 10 baby names for two years in a row as a result of this movie. Rin could have also had some Love Live! influence, as one of the most popular characters is Rin Hoshizora.
Film — Live Action
- Stanley Kubrick's 1962 adaption of Lolita. had a positive effect on the name "Lolita" itself, which had fallen out of popularity but had a small resurgence following the film's release. In Lolita itself, the girl is actually named Dolores, variously nicknamed Dolly, Lo or Lola. Lolita was the pseudo-intellectual Humbert's "fancy" nickname for her.
- "Madison" as a first name was almost nonexistent when the movie Splash was made, and was mostly a boy's name when it did appear. Then after the film's mermaid picked up the name, it exploded in popularity as a girl's name, reaching the top ten in girls' names in the United States in 1997, staying there over a decade and a half, even reaching second for two years, before dropping to eleventh in 2015. (It also reappeared as a boys' name after Splash was released, but never attained the explosive popularity that it did as a girls' name.) In the film itself, it was a Line-of-Sight Name taken from a street sign; Tom Hanks' character's immediate reaction is, "That's not a [feminine] name!"
- After The Omen (1976) came out, the name Damien experienced a slight decline in popularity, but it did get a one-day spike among children born on June 6, 2006 — which, not coincidentally, was also the release date of the remake.
- The name Jennifer received a boost with the release of Love Story, becoming the single most common female given name in the United States for the years 1970-1984, where it had previously been relatively uncommon. Then it happened in Spanish. Love Story (and the many works that followed it) briefly made Jennifer a popular name in Spain, where it didn't exist in any form, and where before Franco's death, it was extremely discouraged to use non-standard (read: non-Catholic) names.
- While the boy's name Kevin had become quite popular in Germany the years before, it reached its peak as the most common name in 1991 after the release of Home Alone and stayed very high in popularity for about 10 more years.
- The Marvel Cinematic Universe fueled many parents to name their children after characters, among others "Valkyrie", "Quill", "Rocket" and "Hawkeye". Even more so, in 2017, 50 children were given the name "Marvel".
- Though it has yet to be seen if Ready Player One (2018) will cause an increase in people naming their daughters "Artemis" over the coming years, it has already caused a spike in usage of this name in online gaming.
- Shortly after Darla Hood became one of The Little Rascals in 1935/36, parents all over the country were naming their baby girls "Darla".
- The names "Isabella", "Edward" and "Jacob" were popular before Twilight was published. Still, they saw a significant boost, as did "Renesmee". Despite being invented by Stephenie Meyer, in 2010 fifty-five baby girls in the US were given that name in real life.
- By the time the Harry Potter series concluded in 2007, the previously rare name Hermione had experienced a huge spike in popularity, as did the less-rare-but-still-uncommon name Luna. (The names Ron(ald) and Harry have long been perennial standards but likewise experienced a significant spike attributed to the series.)
- Millions of baby girls were named Alice after the success of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
- The introduction of Amber as a name after the mid-20th century has been attributed to Kathleen Windsor's sweeping historical romance Forever Amber. These days the name's popularity has nearly eclipsed the original book.
- J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan popularized the name Wendy so much after its release, that he is often erroneously credited with inventing the name. It's really a very obscure nickname for Gwendolyn.
- Since the 1960s, naming your child after a character from J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings has been something of a trend for aging hippies and nerds. "Galadriel" has been in the US popular name list since 1969.
- The Polish/Lithuanian name "Grazyna" was invented by the poet Adam Mickiewicz for his narrative poem Grazyna, A Lithuanian story. It's derived from the Lithuanian word grazi, meaning "beautiful", and it was widespread in Poland up until around the 1980s.
- The name "Pamela" was invented for a book, Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded. This generated one of the first entertainment marketing booms, with Pamela towels, dishes, playing cards, stationery, etc. In 1740.
- The name "Svetlana" was invented by a Russian poet and popularized by another in the early 1800s. It's still hugely popular today, both in Russia and outside it, and is even used as the Russian translation of a Greek saint's name. "Svetlana" wasn't a nonsense word, though; "svet" means light, and it's a little like naming your daughter "Radiance" or something. The closest English equivalent would be Helen.
- The name "Vanessa" was invented by Jonathan Swift for his lover Esther Vanhomrigh ("Van" from her surname, "Essa" from a pet form of her given one) and used in his semi-autobiographical poem Cadenus and Vanessa, published after Vanhomrigh's death. The name became a popular choice for girls following the publication of the poem.
- Shirley was a boy's name until Charlotte Brontë gave the heroine of her novel that name. After that it became much more popular as a girl's name as the writers of Airplane! can attest.
- The name Dylan experienced a surge in popularity during the run of Beverly Hills, 90210.
- The Brazilian Soap Opera Escrava Isaura was extremely popular in Poland, and caused a number of young girls to be named Isaura.
- Doctor Who: The name "Amelia" has experienced a recent surge in popularity, coming as high as #1 in the U.K. and #12 in the U.S. for girls. The reason seems to be one character: Amelia Jessica "Amy" Pond.
- In the 1980s, the names Crystalnote , Alexis, and Dominique became popular for girls in the USA thanks to the Rich Bitches of Dynasty.
- The name "Emma" exploded in popularity after Rachel of Friends gave the name to her daughter.
- From Sex and the City, Carrie's rugged puppy Aidan seems to have inspired a resurgence in that name (and its variant Aiden).
- Family Ties led to "Mallory" being a popular girls' name, even though it was almost completely non-existent prior to the show (and was basically a last name adopted into a first name). Unlike "Madison", which came about under similar circumstances, "Mallory" died out quickly after the show ended.
- True Blood made Sookie the fastest growing name for girls in 2010.
- The popularity of Game of Thrones led to many baby girls named "Arya" and "Khaleesi". Funny that the latter is actually a title for Daenerys Targaryen, not a proper name in the series itself; "Daenerys" itself hasn’t nearly become as popular.
- Colby from Survivor inspired people to name their kid's Colby following his season, as explained by Jeff Probst when Colby made his return in a later season.
- Xander's picked up as a boy's name since Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although the biggest spike in usage comes the year that Buffy went off the air.)
- The name "Kayleigh" was popularized in the U.K. after it appeared in a 1985 hit single of the same name by the British Progressive Rock band Marillion; the name itself was derived from "Kay Lee", an ex-girlfriend of singer Derek "Fish" Dick.
- The Australian singer-songwriter John Williamson created a song about a tomboy whose father nicknamed her Cydy (short for sidekick). It is now an official (if still mostly uncommon) Australian girl name.
- Many red-nosed pets, especially dogs, are named after the title character of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
- The Legend of Zelda: The name "Zelda" had been out of vogue for decades by the time the first game came out. Now it's a fairly common name thanks to the perennial popularity of the series. Robin Williams' daughter Zelda Williams is a famous example of someone named after the character.
- Enforced by Bethesda, who announced a challenge for players of Skyrim: if any of them had a child on its then latest release date (11/11/11) and named it after a Skyrim character, the child could get free games for life. At least one couple did it, with their son Dovahkiin.
- The name "Jennifer" became hugely popular in the United Kingdom after George Bernard Shaw gave it to the female lead in his 1906 play The Doctor's Dilemma.
- Inverted: SpongeBob SquarePants may have been responsible for the name "Patrick" steadily declining in popularity since the early 2000s. It used to be one of the top 50 most popular boy's names in the United States—but as of 2017, it's only in the top 200. Understandably, not many millennial parents want to name their sons after an overweight, dimwitted pink starfish.
- Inverted: the name Peter dropped the most it ever had in history in 2000, the year after the premiere of Family Guy. It's had a steady decline since.
- "Shirley" was an uncommon and exclusively masculine name until Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley was published in 1849. The eponymous character is an independent heiress, and her name is intended to be a Tomboyish Name, being what her parents would have named a boy had they got one like they wanted. It would stay primarily a (rather rare) boy's name until Shirley Temple became famous. Then it became a popular girl's name, reaching No. 1 in popularity in 1935. Male Shirleys are now thin on the ground.
- The name "Emma" jumped (from thirteenth to fourth place) upon the release of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone with Emma Watson.
- Thanks to Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, there were spikes in popularity of the name Nichelle as a baby name.
- R&B singer Aaliyah caused the name Aaliyah to suddenly explode in popularity in the mid-90s, along with its many variations. The name had originated in the Middle East (deriving from the Arabic `Aliya', which is, roughly, the feminine form of `Ali and means "elevated," "exalted," or "noble") but became more associated in the the African American and Latino communities after the popularity of the singer.
- The Backstreet Boys popularity in Mexico caused many boys around that time to be named Kevin or Brian (often spelled as "Brayan").
- The popularity of "Katrina" as a name for baby girls increased slightly after the 2005 storm, possibly due to the name being endlessly repeated in the media, possibly as a statistical blip. The following years saw Katrina fall rapidly in popularity.
- In 1918, Italian general Armando Diaz signed the Victory Address, a short document meant to inform the population of the victory against Austria in World War I. It was shown in schools, barracks, and town halls, and many children were required to memorize it. The Address ended with the words "firmato: Diaz" (signed: Diaz), which led many to think that "firmato" ("signed") was his name. In the following years, many children were baptized with that name.
- After Barack Obama became President in 2009, bringing his daughters Malia and Sasha into the public eye, the name Maliyah was the fastest growing name in popularity in 2009, and the name Sasha also jumped in popularity.
- Prior to the rise of pop culture, the best way to get people to name your kids after you was to conquer them. As an example, prior to 1066, nearly everyone in England had solid Old English names like Edwin, Edgar or Athelstan. Once William the Conqueror made the aristocracy Norman French, things changed, and soon nearly everyone was called William, Richard, Robert, Henry or Hugh. Ironically, because the Normans were originally Vikings (hence "Nor(se)man") all five of those names are of Germanic origin.
- In 2000, Sonny Sandoval, the frontman of P.O.D. and a born-again Christian, gave his daughter the unusual name of Nevaeh, which is "heaven" spelled backwards. By 2007, Nevaeh had become the 31st most popular name for baby girls in the United States, with most of this popularity coming from evangelical Christian parents. A few years later, more parents, apparently having heard the name but not knowing its derivation, or being appallingly lax in spell-checking birth certificate forms, began naming their daughters "Neveah".
- Baby name databases don't seem to have any data for the name Tevin before 1990, but it peaks in popularity in 1992 (top 200). In between those two years, an R&B singer named Tevin Campbell had released his debut album and scored several hits off it, and his popularity resulted in many baby boys being given his uncommon first name.