Later this week, Star Wars fans and American moviegoers will finally get a chance to see the latest movie in the sci-fi saga, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
So it wouldn’t be surprising to see little baby Kylos, Finns and Reys running around in the new future, given they’re the new central characters of the new Star Wars movies, and parents often take a cue from Star Wars when choosing baby names.
As Quartz’s Nikhil Sonnad reported, babies born around the time of a new Star Wars movie are often given names related to the movies themselves. Sonnad’s analysis of Social Security Administration data found that names like Luke, Leia, Han and Lando — all characters from the original Star Wars trilogy — all saw a spike around the time the movies came out during the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Some names, like Luke, were popular before the movies, but also saw a spike after “Star Wars” came out in 1977, Quartz reported.
Even the more obscure names from Star Wars — like Lando and Han — saw a spike, even though they were common elsewhere before the movies.
“Zooming in on the chart and ignoring the outlier of Luke, it’s clear that Star Wars inspires pretty obscure names, too,” Quartz reported. “Some of these had rarely or never appeared in the data previous to the release of the original Star Wars trilogy.”
For example, Quartz reported that Lando was a common Italian name before Star Wars, and some Americans in WWII also had the name. But Lando saw a spike after “The Empire Strikes Back” came out in 1980.
“More surprising in this chart is undoubtedly the rise of ‘Darth,’ a name given to 13 boys in 1978. That’s a small number, but without Star Wars, it would surely be zero,” Quartz reported.
The same could soon be said for Kylo, the villain of the upcoming film. Right now, the name Kylo is the 7,591st most popular baby name, Nameberry reported — meaning it’s not very popular at all but may follow in the footsteps of Darth Vader and rise after the new movie debuts.
These trends didn’t just happen with the original trilogy, but the Star Wars prequels, too, which were released back in the early 2000s. For example, the name Anakin — the namesake of the prequels’ main character, who later became known as Darth Vader, the original trilogy’s main villain — saw a surge in the last decade, according to The A.V. Club. In fact, Anakin was the 957th most popular baby name in 2014.
But there’s a downside to naming your child after a Star Wars character, especially one like Anakin, a character who has received a lot of flack and mainly negative criticism, according to The A.V. Club.
“Even without the knowledge that being an Anakin totally sucks, you have to wonder what exactly appeals to them when it comes to the name’s associations,” The A.V. Club reported. “Are they only thinking of their child as a cute young thing that will shout ‘Yippee’ in perpetuity? They might want to remember that children grow up. Or did they perhaps finish watching The Phantom Menace, turn off the TV, and say, ‘Flawless. We may as well stop here, because there’s no way any of the other movies will rise to this level of perfection! Anakin must turn out great and everything goes well.'”
It doesn’t help matters that Anakin later grows up to be one of the biggest villains in film history, and even “killed younglings” in one of the prequel films.
But Yahoo’s Gwynne Watkins made a different point about the name. Today’s parents grew up with the new Star Wars trilogy, meaning that the prequel films influenced baby naming much like parents a generation ago did the same for their children with the original trilogy.
In fact, a few decades from now, the name Anakin may not stand out as “the father of Luke Skywalker and a once promising Jedi knight who became the evil Darth Vader,” Watkins wrote.
Rather, the name may become more common in our everyday society and be — like Star Wars baby names before it — another popular baby name inspired by pop culture, Watkins wrote.
“It would seem that by the time these Anakins grow up, the name might be a normal part of our cultural nomenclature — much like ‘Wendy,’ a name created by J.M. Barrie for his book Peter Pan,” Watkins explained.
For generations, including the current one, families have used pop culture to influence baby names — like how the name Bella saw a rise in popularity after the Twilight series debuted, Watkins wrote.
The same can be said for the name Leia, the character that Carrie Fisher played in the original Star Wars trilogy. Her name, though rare before the trilogy, climbed considerably after the films came out — and became synonymous with Star Wars itself, Watkins wrote.
“For generations who grew up with the original Star Wars movies, Leia is a name like any other,” she wrote. “And for future generations, Anakin is likely to be the same.”