16 Fan-Favorite Baby Names From ‘Game of Thrones’
Since 2011, millions of people around the world have been hooked on HBO’s fantasy drama series “Game of Thrones.” In the eighth and final series, fans had to say goodbye to the inhabitants of Westeros and Essos — but their legacy lives on.
Data on the most popular baby names of 2018 released by the Social Security Administration reveals that more parents are naming their tots after “Games of Thrones” characters than ever.
The already popular Jon (Snow) and Jaime (Lannister) aside, here are some “Thrones”-inspired baby names that are pushing their way into the mainstream. There are also a few for die-hard fans that, while not mainstream, will certainly make your kid stand out during roll call.
The Mother of Dragons is officially called Daenerys, but a more popular name for baby girls in 2018 was Khaleesi, another of her many titles. Only 163 babies were named Daenerys, while 560 were named Khaleesi, making it the 549th most popular name for baby girls. As Bloomberg Editor Nick Turner pointed out in a tweet, that means it was a more popular girls’ name than Gloria, Anne or Julie.
Khaleesi, which first broke into the top 1,000 baby girls’ names in 2014, loosely translates as “queen” in the fictional language of the Dothraki, the warrior tribe with Daenerys at its helm. Her male counterpart, Khal Drogo, was killed off in season one but made a lasting impact: Nine baby boys were named Khal in 2018.
Regularly grabbing the top spot in polls of favorite “Game of Thrones” characters, revenge-seeker Arya Stark (daughter of early protagonist Ned Stark) has one of the show’s most coveted names for U.S. babies. Arya grows from a traumatized orphan into a trained assassin — and, as a result, is one of the most badass young females in TV history.
While Arya has been in the top 1,000 baby girls’ names since 2010, it experienced dramatic growth when the series started in 2011, and in 2018, it was the 119th most popular name for girls, ranking higher than the likes of Rose, Mary and Alexandra.
Queen Cersei I Lannister, the widow of King Robert Baratheon and Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, is one of the most evil “‘Thrones” characters, fire-bombing entire cities on a whim and killing anyone who crosses her, including her best friend. But Cersei’s malevolent streak wasn’t enough to stop 11 baby girls from being named after her in 2017.
Author George R. R. Martin, who wrote the fantasy novel series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” on which “Game of Thrones” is based, invented the name — perhaps inspired by Circe, a seductive witch in Greek mythology.
A Hebrew name meaning “early rain” and an edgier alternative to Jonah, Jorah is also a major “Thrones” character: Ser Jorah Mormont (aka Jorah the Andal), one of the most steadfast characters on the show and the one person who never wavers in his loyalty to Daenerys, whom he sees as the deserved Queen of Westeros. During his service to the Mother of Dragons, he saves her life more than once, and ultimately dies protecting her.
Since 2014, more than 80 boys born in the U.S. were named Jorah, including 30 in 2018 alone.
“Game of Thrones” gives the typical Caitlin a twist, with tragic matriarch Catelyn Stark, whose name is actually pronounced CAT-lyn. An Irish and Welsh variation of Catherine, which means “pure,” Caitlin may also be spelled Katelyn or Kaitlyn. Catelyn, the most unusual iteration, was given to 21 baby girls in 2018.
You could definitely choose worse role models for your daughter than the fiercely protective, devoted mother-of-five Catelyn Stark.
Little Tyrions have come into the world since 1997, a year after the publication of “A Game of Thrones,” the first book in Martin’s series, and 2018 saw 58 of them born in the U.S.
Lord Tyrion Lannister, the youngest child of Lord Tywin Lannister and younger brother of Cersei and Jaime Lannister, is one of the most popular characters on the show, proving again and again that despite being the “imp” of the family and facing scorn and prejudice at every turn, he has more inner strength, intellect and spirit than the rest of the Lannister clan combined.
After breaking into the top 1,000 in 2017, the name Lyanna was given to 319 newborns in 2018, making it the year’s 846th most popular name for baby girls. In “Game of Thrones,” Lyanna was the brave, passionate younger sister of Ned Stark who inadvertently started a civil war when she broke off her engagement to Robert Baratheon.
All those real-life Lyannas aren’t the only little girls to share a name with the courageous Winterfell Princess who died during childbirth. Reigning Lady of Bear Island Lyanna Mormont, who was introduced in season six, was named in honor of her memory.
After Arya and Khaleesi, Yara was the most popular “Thrones” name for baby girls in 2018, bestowed upon 434 newborns. Martin invented many of his character names, but Yara is of Arabic origin and means “small butterfly.” It’s a super-common name in Brazil (where it may also be spelled “Iara”), partly due to the “Lady of the Lake,” a mythological Amazonian mermaid.
Yara Greyjoy (fearsome fighter, accomplished sea captain and sister to Theon) is actually called Asha in Martin’s novels, but the show’s producers changed it to avoid confusion with Osha, a woman of the Free Folk.
Yara is a hugely popular name in the Netherlands, where it ranked 22nd in 2016, and in Portugal, ranked 30th in 2014. Famous Yaras outside “Thrones” include Syrian Journalist and Human Rights Activist Yara Bader, and Brazilian Painter and Artist Yara Tupynamba.
Perhaps Martin got the inspiration for the name of his character Oberyn Martell, most commonly known as the Red Viper, from the fairy king Oberon in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” An English name meaning “noble” or “bearlike,” Oberon was also a fairy king in German legend, French heroic song and several operas, and the name of a character in the animated Disney film, “Gargoyles.”
Oberyn Martell appears in relatively few episodes of “Game of Thrones” before suffering a sudden, gruesome death at the hands of the Mountain in season four, but he made a big impression, particularly on the parents of the 15 baby boys who were named after him in 2018.
It may be surprising that only 29 baby girls were named Sansa in 2018, considering how much this “Thrones" character has developed throughout the show. She starts as a weak member of the Stark family but goes through a monumental journey (arguably facing more obstacles than any other character) and emerges a strong, sincere woman.
A name of Sanskrit origin meaning “praise, charm,” Sansa is sweet, elegant and musical — and is undoubtedly more usable (and less likely to be misspelled) than Daenerys and Khaleesi.
Meaning “broom-covered hill,” Bran was given to eight baby boys in 2018. As well as being the name of the little lord of House Stark who assumes the esoteric title of “Three-Eyed Raven” on “Thrones,” Bran is the Celtic god of the underworld whose symbol is, naturally, the raven.
Bran’s full name is actually Brandon, which sounds far too modern for a “Thrones” character but is a much more popular choice than its diminutive among U.S. parents; it was the 124th most common name for baby boys in 2018.
A boy's name of Greek origin meaning “godly,” Theon is also the name of one of “Thrones”’ most notorious characters: Theon Greyjoy, who becomes the kennel-dwelling “pet” Reek after being subjected to months of merciless torture inflicted by psychopath Ramsay Snow.
In 2018, 14 baby boys were named Theon, although perhaps not in honor of the Prince of Fools. The name is also attached to Theon of Smyrna, a Greek philosopher and mathematician; Theon of Alexandria, a Greek scholar and mathematician; and Theon of Samos, a Greek painter.
Another name with multiple spellings, Margaery didn’t make it into the top 1,000 baby girl names of 2018 (nor did Margery, although the traditional Scottish Marjorie was ranked 941st in 2017). A diminutive of Margaret, which means “pearl,” Margaery’s “Thrones” association is via Queen Consort Margaery Tyrell, one of the most ambitious characters in the entire show.
Although “Thrones”’ Queen Consort may be the only Margaery in pop culture, famous bearers of other spellings include Margery Williams, author of the children's classic “The Velveteen Rabbit”; Margery Fenworthy, a character in Enid Blyton’s “St. Clare's” book series; and Marjorie Jacqueline "Marge" Bouvier Simpson, the much-loved mama on “The Simpsons.”
Despite being a fairly minor “Thrones” character, Renly Baratheon made his mark as one of the show's few prominent LGBT characters. In season two, he challenged the Lannisters and his older brother Lord Stannis for control of the Iron Throne. Margaery Tyrell became his queen, but it was her brother Loras whom Renly truly loved.
No babies were named Renly in the U.S. before the show premiered, but 29 received the name in 2016, and this jumped to 102 in 2018.
As far as morals go, few “Thrones” character can match Brienne of Tarth, one of the most gifted fighters across the entire eight seasons and the first woman of the Seven Kingdoms to become a knight. One of the most memorable of her many victories was her season four one-on-one battle with the Hound (Sandor Clegane), which culminates in him falling off a cliff.
She may be a fierce fighter, but Brienne always tries to use her power to do good, which may be why 33 baby girls were named after her in 2018.
Benjamin, a Hebrew name meaning “son of the right hand,” has been a popular name for decades, making it into the top 10 for the first time in 2015 and staying near the top since (it ranked sixth in 2018). After all, the pop culture associations for Benjamin are ample — from President Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Braddock, Dustin Hoffman’s iconic character in “The Graduate.”
There’s no Benjamin in “Game of Thrones,” but the next best thing is Benjen, as in Benjen Stark. The younger brother of Eddard Stark and the First Ranger of the Night’s Watch, he rescued Bran and Meera Reed after they escaped from the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven and eventually sacrificed himself to save Jon Snow. This courageous character was the inspiration for six baby boys’ names in 2018.