The fantasy novel Die unendliche Geschichte by Michael Ende was first published in Germany in 1979.
For the English translation of the book, and for the film adaptation that followed, the title was changed to The Neverending Story.
One of the story’s main characters was the warrior Atreyu (originally spelled Atréju) who fought against the Nothing for the survival of Fantasia.
In 1985, a year after the movie came out, the baby name Atreyu appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the very first time:
- 1987: unlisted
- 1986: 5 baby boys named Atreyu
- 1985: 5 baby boys named Atreyu [debut]
- 1984: unlisted
The name dropped off the list after 1986, but returned in 1991, and it’s been on ever since.
In fact, it’s doing far better now than ever before:
- 2013: 117 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,409th]
- 2012: 122 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,371st]
- 2011: 125 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,344th]
- 2010: 130 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,310th]
- 2009: 103 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,572nd]
- 2008: 114 baby boys named Atreyu [rank: 1,446th]
Atari, another pop culture-invented baby name, has had a similar trajectory: on the list, off the list, then back again decades later.
I’d say both names have managed to outlive the things that inspired them originally.
Image: Warner Brothers, via IMDB