Five years ago, shortly after giving birth to twin girls, Lauren Kucharski knew that Arya was the right choice for her spirited daughter.
“We knew we wanted the name before she was born but didn’t know which twin to give it to until they were born. She came out fighting,” said Kucharski, a 38-year-old Timonium resident who is also an avid fan of the “Game of Thrones” series on HBO.
Kucharski said she wanted to name her daughter after another strong female. (Arya’s twin is named after Maya Angelou.) The character Arya Stark stood out to Kucharski because of the heroine’s strong-willed nature and the fact that she doesn’t take no for an answer.
“She was able to carve her own way,” Kucharski said.
For fans of the popular series, it’s not enough to tune into HBO each Sunday (the TV series culminates this weekend after eight seasons) or to reread the pages of the fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by author George R.R. Martin.
According to a names.org study, Arya was the most popular baby name from the show followed by Emilia (the actress who portrays Daenerys Targaryen), Khaleesi, Maisie (the actress who portrays Arya), Meera and Daenerys. The findings, which were based on the most recent data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, compared babies born in the year that the show debuted (2011) to babies born in 2017, the most recent data available.
This isn’t the first time that fans of shows and movies have decided to name their offspring after characters. The “Twilight” book and movie series spawned a generation of Bellas, Jacobs and Edwards. And tweens named Harry and Hermione were likely inspired by J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.
Naming a child after a character from a show or book is a natural occurrence, according to Robert J. Thompson, a professor and founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.
Thompson said that many of the Jays walking around were likely named after a character in “The Great Gatsby,” and there is a good chance that the Finns we know are because of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Lukes and Lauras named during the 1980s were probably because of “General Hospital,” he said.
Thompson suspects that children with names of characters from popular shows are the result of two factors: their parents are die-hard fans, and those names have crept into popular culture.
“You hear a name and that reminds you that name exists,” he explained.
Thompson also points to the fact that the names in “Game of Thrones” are unusual and would attract parents who wanted their child to have a distinct name.
“They might be appealing for people who are tolling around for something other than Christopher and Rebecca. ‘Game of Thrones’ is filled with original names,” he said.
It helps that the show attracts double-digit millions of viewers an episode.
Kucharski and her husband, Matthew, watch the show each week with bated breath.
“It has many elements of surprise. No character is really safe,” she explained. “Looking back, it was risky to name my daughter Arya. I’m still holding my breath for the last episode.”
Chrissie Perry, 32, was able to combine her love of “Game of Thrones” while honoring a family member when naming her five-month-old son Robert.
She named her son after her late grandfather and the “Game of Thrones” character Robb Stark, the King of the North.
“It wasn't the main reason we named him Robert but we loved that it was also a Game of Thrones character name,” the Federal Hill resident said. “It wasn’t like I specifically said I need to name my kid after a Game of Thrones character. It was a strong classic name.”
Perry said that she likes the way this season has progressed. But she admits that she’s likely alone in that sentiment.
“I think everyone hates the season so far,” she said with a laugh. “I like the surprise and the twist that they are going with. I think this is kind of cool that they have this complete 180-degree shift. It will be interesting to see how they will tie this together.”
The big twist she’s referencing has to do with the popular character Daenerys Targaryen.
“She was an amazing character for six seasons, and all of the sudden there is a shift in her character. … If you named your kid Daenerys, it was kind of a ‘whoops’ moment. You didn’t see that coming.”