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
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on August 24th, 2015 at 1:48 am
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on August 24th, 2015 at 9:33 am
I have a soft spot for Pandora. I don’t mind the association to the myth all that much… It could be retold in a nicer way that wouldn’t be so misogynistic. After all, what’s wrong with curiosity ? It’s not Pandora’s fault that Zeus used her to trick her husband.
The “Dora” nickname puts me off using it for a child though, but I think I might use it for a dog maybe sometime in the future.
on August 24th, 2015 at 12:15 pm
I agree that the view of her as “evil” isn’t fair — it’s just developed over time that way. I think this is what makes many Greek tragedies even more tragic — the females are pawns in a lot of them.
on August 24th, 2015 at 12:44 pm
We were going to name our daughter Ursula but, decided against it because of the strong ties to The Little Mermaid. And in my husband’s family there’s a Gaston but, I can’t get over the Gas part!
on August 24th, 2015 at 8:18 pm
Ursula is beautiful. I’ve strongly considered using the name, because it is the name of an ancestor of mine, but I probably wouldn’t, because I’d feel like I was just naming my daughter after one of my good friends from college. The Little Mermaid association has completely faded for me.
on August 24th, 2015 at 9:16 pm
If Ursula was my style I would use it, however I know someone irl with the name Ursula and she wears it well.
on August 24th, 2015 at 9:28 pm
If Eve is usable, Pandora is usable.
on August 25th, 2015 at 12:25 am
To be honest, most of these are decently usable. I don’t find Pandora evil at all— just a girl with flaws. I would use the name. Bellatrix is almost more cool (at least to me) because of the reference. And Ursula is starting to lose her tentacles, I think! For the longest time I avoided Ursula, but it is really growing on me. I’d never use a name like Hannibal, though.
on August 25th, 2015 at 6:37 am
Books and movies are often fantasy-based. They entertain us, but they have no real bearing on reality beyond that simple, childish quality. Therefore, rejecting a name like Ursula, which is hundreds of years old and has a lot of great character, culture and history to it, because it was featured (many years ago) in a CHILDREN’S CARTOON MOVIE, is ridiciculous, in my opinion at least. Not only that, but it’s unjustifiable. Same with a name like Hannibal. Yes, the cannibal reference might make some squeamish but, that’s just a small reference in its otherwise endless etymologuy. It’s been a legitimate name for centuries and while you might think of the modern cannibal reference, I think of one of the greatest military leaders in all of history.
A name like Jezebel is different because, over time, it has become a word used to represent something very nasty and specific. Same with names like Lolita and Nimrod. I consider them off limits because they only really have one primary reference nowadays, and it’s not good. But, that’s just my opinion…
on August 25th, 2015 at 3:57 pm
I agree with all of your list except Lex. It’s not really my style, but it’s cute and my mind doesn’t immediately jump to the Lex Luther character when I hear it.
The other names, though, are definitely way off my possibilities list. Even having a fictional baddie share your name is sure to be the cause of some unnecessary teasing among children.
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on August 27th, 2015 at 2:55 am
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on August 28th, 2015 at 10:22 pm
I think many parents like to consider all sides of the baby name before deciding on it. Did Ursula have a long history prior to the Little Mermaid — yes indeed. But many parents might like to avoid names that will bring up automatic fictional references in the minds of many. While not all will immediately associate Ursula with the Sea Witch, many will probably recognize that reference over the saint.
Of course, if a baby name has a special meaning for you, to Hell with the fictional references!
on September 14th, 2015 at 3:57 pm
Everyone has a name that they love so much that pop culture associations just don’t matter. Ursula is one of those names for me. I’ve heard repeatedly “I can only think of the Little Mermaid!” and for some reason it doesn’t phase me at all. I would use Ursula for daughter in a heartbeat. It is strong, literary, classic, and has some super cute nickname potentials (Lala, Sula, Sully). I refuse to let Disney ruin this gorgeous name!
on September 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Also, I think that part of my stubbornness in loving this name is that I envision having a daughter who is so lovely and smart and elegant and funny that she would transcend people’s negative thoughts. I want a daughter who inspires others to say “I once met a fantastic girl named Ursula so I love the name!”
on December 4th, 2015 at 5:08 pm
I like most of these names, even the ones associated with death and tragedy. If you raise your child well, then they will wear and OWN the name, which will change your connotation.
on March 16th, 2016 at 11:31 pm
I agree. I’d never use any of these. And I think Lucifer should be added to the list. I mean, seriously? He’s the ultimate evil.
on March 16th, 2016 at 11:34 pm
Except for Lex. I probably wouldn’t use it, anyway, but the bad connotation never crossed my mind with that one.
on April 2nd, 2016 at 3:07 pm
I personally like Lex as an alternative or diminutive for Alex (I love Alex) regardless of the association with Lex Luthor. I’m not much of a Superman fan anyway since I prefer Marvel comics, Batman, Nightwing, and the Teen Titans.
Pandora’s a perfect name for a curious kitty who loves boxes, especially since I like names starting with P for pets. Pandora wasn’t evil, she was Zeus’s pawn.
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