Anakin, the given name of Star Wars villain Darth Vader, is rising in popularity among baby names for boys. (Photo: Lucasfilm)
The names Luke and Leia — heroes of the beloved Star Wars films — have long been popular baby names, but a more unexpected name from the fantasy franchise is on the rise: Anakin.
The moniker, which is the given name of Star Wars villain Darth Vader, was the 957th most popular boys’ name in 2014, according to the Social Security Administration. It was the first time the name has made the top 1,000 — rising from the 1,238th spot in 2013. In total, 218 boys born last year were given the name Anakin.
Of course, more babies go home with the names of Star Wars good guys. In 2014, Luke ranked 28th among boy names (responsible for 10,431 babies) and Leia was the 509th most popular for girls (605).
While Anakin is an unusual choice, its rise is not especially surprising, according to Pamela Redmond Satran, co-author of The Baby Name Bible and creator of the baby name site Nameberry. “I think it’s the influence of other fantasy properties, like Game of Thrones and Hunger Games,” Satran tells Yahoo Parenting. “Those two dramatizations also have outsized heroes and a devoted fan base, and they’ve broken through a barrier in terms of parents using names that were invented specifically for a movie or book.” Now that parents are using names like Khaleesi from Game of Thrones (given to 368 girls in 2014) and Katniss from Hunger Games (38 girls), Satran says the door has opened for Star Wars fans to pick more unusual names than Luke or Leia.
But why would someone pick a name so widely associated with a villain? “There is something mythic or heroic about this name that inspires people, even if the name is attached to a dark character,” she says. “It’s not about the specific character, but the larger feeling that is conveyed by the franchise. People probably like the sound of the name Anakin, and they’re fans of Star Wars in general. These characters are superhuman, and that’s something parents feel they can hitch their child’s identity to.”
With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest installment in the series, hitting theaters late this year, Satran predicts the movie monikers will continue to rise. “The names that [director] J.J. Abrams came up with for the upcoming movie will be influential,” she says. “They are very much in line with current trends.” She’s got her eye on the names of Adam Driver’s character, Kylo Ren, as well as the names Finn, Rey, and Poe, all of which will feature prominently in the upcoming movie.
Satran expects those names will make a splash in the 2016 Social Security Administration statistics, which will be released in 2017.