Buyer Beware: Fictional Villain Names
Some parents like to walk on the wild side: some names originally considered unusable for their bad boy and girl references, such as Bandit and Draven for boys and Delilah and Drusilla for girls, are climbing the ranks as they become more socially acceptable.
A line needs to be drawn somewhere, however, and the list below sets out to do just that with some of the most decidedly evil names of all time.
With few exceptions, the names listed below haven’t cracked the Top 1000 baby names list for more than 100 years. While not all of these names are completely useless for your bundle of joy, the villainous connotations should be properly considered before signing off on your child’s birth certificate.
A star in the Orion constellation, lovers of astronomy may think they’ve found the perfect name in Bellatrix – unique, chock full of nickname options such as Bella and Trixie, and grounded in history. Harry Potter fans, however, will remember her only as the deranged criminal responsible for the death of Sirius Black and one of Voldemort’s main accomplices.
Mother of one of the most hated kings of the Seven Kingdoms, Cersei Lannister is a character, first in George R. R. Martin’s five-book series A Song of Ice and Fire and later in the on-screen series Game of Thrones, remembered for her incestuous relationship with her brother and her selfish drive to the top. Circe, a variant spelling of this name, was also a character in Homer’s Odyssey, a goddess who turned Odysseus’s men into swine.
A Greek mythological character from the 5th-century BCE, Electra plots the death of her mother and step-father with the help of her brother, Orestes. This murderous pair avenged their father’s death, as well as inspired a psychological concept known as the Electra Complex. In the Marvel Universe, Elektra is a ninja assassin who first appeared in Daredevil but is later known for her role in X-Men’s Wolverine.
Perhaps one of the most well-known “bad girl” names of all time, the name Jezebel has been stirring up feelings of iniquity for centuries. Married to King Ahab who ruled the northern part of Israel, Jezebel used her influence over her husband to turn him away from Yahweh, the God of Israel, and towards the idolatrous worship of Baal and Asherah. As if the name needed another strike against it, Jezebel is also the name of the controversial feminist website with the not-so-subtle headline of “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing.” With these various associations, Jezebel seems to have permanently crossed the line to unusable.
Another Greek tragic character, Medea is a sorceress and murderer best known for her role in Medea by Euripedes. After her husband Jason leaves her and she’s set to be exiled from Corinth, she goes on to kill Jason’s new love interest before slaughtering her own children in a last bid attempt at revenge.
The antagonist of Disney’s 2007 film Enchanted, Narissa is the perfectly-evil mix of The Queen (Snow White), Lady Tremaine (Cinderella), and Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty). A cunning sorceress full of hatred and guile, Narissa is the perfect storm of evil.
A Greek name meaning “all gifted,” Pandora is the name of the first human created by the Greek gods. Sent to earth with a sealed jar, she opened it out of curiosity, releasing all of the evils into the world and leaving hope sealed in the box. While the act itself wasn’t malicious, the after effects of her actions make her one of the most hated characters in literature.
A name synonymous with the sea witch from The Little Mermaid, this moniker was initially associated with Saint Ursula, a martyr venerated by both the Catholic and Orthodox churches. The name itself means “little bear” and was in the top 1000 names until 1983, just six years before the release of The Little Mermaid.
Quite possibly the stingiest man alive, Ebenezer Scrooge did have a change of heart towards the end of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but the name still carries with it connotations of greed, inhumanity, and pure cold-heartedness. While the name itself is found in the Bible and translates to “stone of help,” the pop culture reference to Mr. Scrooge is likely too well known for Ebenezer to ever make a significant comeback.
The sexist and egotistical antagonist of the 1991 Disney film Beauty and the Beast, Gaston is a persistent pursuer of Belle’s hand in marriage. A name that existed long before this antihero, Gaston is a French name meaning “the foreigner” and has been worn by a number of historical figures, including French novelist Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux and French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. Since the name does have some positive attributes it isn’t entirely off-limits, but the Beauty and the Beast reference should be strongly considered.
Cannabilistic serial killer and gifted forensic psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter is the epitome of evil. Cool-mannered and cunning, the character of Hannibal was created by Thomas Harris, a crime reporter who studied serial killers inside and out before penning Red Dragon, the novel where Hannibal Lecter is first introduced.
I think that Christians and non-Christians alike can agree that an infanticidal ruler isn’t exactly the image they’re going for when naming their child. According to the biblical story found in the gospel of Matthew, upon hearing of the birth of the Christ-child, King Herod ordered the slaughter of all male children surrounding Bethlehem who were ages two and under.
The Spanish equivalent of Jacob, Iago is one of Shakespeare’s most evil antagonists. A once-loyal solider under General Othello, Iago uses Othello’s trust and confidence in him as a way to get revenge after he’s passed over for a promotion. Self-serving and cruel, Iago will always be known as the original frenemy.
A name meaning rivulet or spring in Arabic, this is a common name among the Shia Muslim community. In the Western world, however, Jafar is hopelessly tied to the power-hungry sorcerer in the Disney film Aladdin. Fun fact: The name of Jafar’s parrot is Iago.
One of DC Comic’s most infamous villains, Lex Luthor is the archenemy of Superman. Lex is a rich, power-hungry businessman who is known for his remarkable genius and charismatic nature, making him one of DC’s greatest and most dangerous supervillains.
Would you use any of the names above for your own child, or are they tainted for use?
Stephanie Bruce, known on Nameberry as elizabeths, is a content writer by trade and a Junior studying for her Bachelor‘s in history. As a self-proclaimed name nerd, Stephanie has been collecting names since the age of 10 and loves names with strong ties to history. She can be found at her website www.stephaniebrucewriting.com