How did “Black Panther” influence baby names?

The character T'challa (played by actor Chadwick Boseman) from the movie "Black Panther" (2018).
T’challa from “Black Panther

The much-anticipated movie Black Panther, which comes out today, is already guaranteed to be a success (based on strong advance ticket sales).

Even better? The film features lots of great names, many of which are currently uncommon.

The one I’m really keeping my eye on is T’challa, which was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1970s:

  • 1977: unlisted
  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 8 baby boys named Tchalla [debut]
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: unlisted

(This was around the time the comic book character, who had been introduced in the ’60s, started being featured in his own storylines.)

Other character names from the movie include Shuri, W’Kabi, Nakia and Okoye. And some of the actors have notable names as well (Chadwick, Danai, Letitia).

How much of an impact do you think Black Panther will have on baby names in 2018? Which Black Panther name has the potential to see the greatest increase in usage?

Update, 2021: So what happened?

T’challa didn’t return in 2018, but it looks like the names Chadwick, Letitia, Nakia and Shuri were affected by the film:

202030 baby boys5 baby girls17 baby girls7 baby girls
201920 baby boysunlisted29 baby girlsunlisted
201837 baby boys8 baby girls28 baby girls9 baby girls
201728 baby boysunlisted7 baby girlsunlisted
201618 baby boysunlisted21 baby girlsunlisted

And the untimely death of actor Chadwick Boseman in August of 2020 seems to have given the name Chadwick a second boost in 2020.

4 thoughts on “How did “Black Panther” influence baby names?

  1. I see Shuri and Danai as having a lot of potential. Shuri seems to be the character everyone leaves the movie talking about, and her name works as a modern twist on classics like Sherry and Sharon. And Danai is both a genuine Zimbabwean name, and a nice way to honor a Daniel or Danielle in the family tree. The BabyCenter graph for the name already shows a sharp uptick, suggesting the actress is having some influence already.

    T’Challa is an unusual sound for an American boy’s name, and the superhero may be too much to live up to. On the other hand, maybe the current relative popularity of names like Elijah and Isaiah will make T’Challa feel more natural?

  2. Interesting thoughts on T’Challa! You’re right — it’s reminiscent of several trendy male names. Also reminds me of Abdullah (which isn’t as popular as Elijah, but still sits well within the top 1,000).

    I’m very interested in seeing what happens with Shuri. I got that same impression — she really seems to be the breakout character.

  3. My name is T’Challa and I’m a female born in 1974. Of course my name came from the comic book character Black Panther because my father was a big fan back in the 1970’s. Only difference is the way my parents chose to pronounce it. My name is spelled the same but pronounced (ta-sha-la) instead of ta-cha-la).

  4. Hi T’Challa! Thank you for the story.

    Interestingly, one of the writers of the comic book series pronounced it differently as well. In a late issue of Jungle Action (1972-1976), he had the character state that the pronunciation was “challa,” no T-sound. Which must have been confusing, because at least one earlier issue made it clear that the pronunciation was “ta-challa.” (More on the pronunciation controversy here: How Do You Pronounce Black Panther’s Name?)

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