TV Baby Names: Anna-Kat to Cable

October 16, 2016 Abby Sandel
tv baby names

By Abby Sandel

Fall means sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and a long list of debut television series.

It’s true that television characters – even the most memorable – often come with unremarkable names that they share with others. Think Emily and Liz, Jack and Sam. Vox recently surveyed character names from movies, demonstrating that Jack and John were favorites for male characters on the big screen; Mary and Sarah for women.

And yet television has launched dozens of names. From Peyton Place’s Allison and Bewitched’s Samantha to Phoebe and Chandler from Friends, Xander and Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, popular shows of every genre and decade have boosted baby name trends.

If one of Fall 2016’s new series is the next big thing, these are the character names poised to rise.

AnnaKatNew ABC comedy American Housewife focuses on Katie, the suburban mom of three at the center of the action. AnnaKat is her youngest. While double names are big elsewhere in the English-speaking world, they’ve never been as popular in the US. Should the series last, maybe we’ll learn the story behind the hyphenated name – there must be one! AnnaKat’s older siblings answer to the more mainstream Taylor and Oliver.

Tahani Kristen Bell plays Eleanor in The Good Place, opposite Ted Danson’s Michael. The other characters’ names are more intriguing, like Tahani AlJamil. In an early episode, she explains that, together, her first and last names mean “Congratulations, beautiful!”

TV baby names

Ginny Baker of Pitch

Ginny – This season, Fox gives us Pitch, a story about a young rookie pitcher – who happens to be the first woman to play in Major League Baseball. The character’s name is Ginny Baker (above). The name is traditionally short for Virginia, which hovers around the middle of the US Top 1000. Ginny, on the other hand, is quite rare as a stand-alone name – for now.

Hayes Conviction introduces us to fictional former First Daughter Hayes Morrison. She prefers parties to politics, but also happens to be a brilliant attorney. Her latest scrape leads to her employment as the head of the Conviction Integrity Unit, reviewing the highest profile cases. Her mother is former First Lady turned US Senator, Harper Morrison. Harper, Hadley, and Harlow are all hits for girls. Could Hayes be next?

Kimble – Speaking of all things presidential, Designated Survivor tells us of unlikely US President Tom Kirkman, a cabinet secretary who ascends to the office following tragedy. Kimble Hookstratten, played by Virginia Madsen, is one of the only surviving members of the US Senate. I expected Kimble to be spelled Kimball, which brings to mind current favorite Kendall. Of course, that’s exactly why Kimble could catch on.

Cable – In the same Kendall/Kimble style, there’s Cable McCrory, a brilliant techie on new legal drama Bull. While Cable has a history of use as a surname, it’s almost completely unknown as a given name. And yet, with names like Gabriel and Abel so popular it does seem like it has potential – though perhaps more for a boy.

Raimy Frequency is one of two time travel/crime dramas debuting this season. The premise is borrowed from a 2000 movie: a deceased NYPD detective can communicate with his child – now grown, and also an NYPD detective – via ham radio. In the movie, the grown child was a son named John. For television, it’s a daughter – and her name is the very unusual Raimy.

Rufus – That second time travel/crime drama show is NBC’s Timeless. In this case, a trio of investigators travels back in time to stop a villain intent on re-writing history. They include historian Lucy, soldier Wyatt, and computer programmer Rufus. Saintly, historic, and once in steady use, Rufus has been on the small screen before, thanks to Gossip Girl, but has yet to make a comeback.

Chale King of Queens alum Kevin James is back with a new sitcom, this time called Kevin Can Wait. James plays a recently retired cop; Chale is his daughter’s fiancé. Chale brings to mind favorites like Caleb and Chase. It’s pretty much an invention for the television series, so if we see it popping up in birth announcements, the show probably gets credit.

What are your favorite television character names? Any good new ones from this season that I’ve missed?

About the author


Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at

View all of Abby's articles


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