How did “Money Heist” influence baby names?

The character Nairobi from the TV series "Money Heist" (2017-2021).
Nairobi from “Money Heist”

Eight thieves — six men and two women — all dressed in red jumpsuits, all donning Salvador Dalí masks — break into the Royal Mint of Spain (in Madrid) with the aim of printing 2.4 billion in Euros over 11 days, then making a clean getaway.

That’s what happens at the start of the Spanish-language crime drama series Money Heist, which became a worldwide hit in 2018, thanks to Netflix.

Upon the success of the first two seasons of the show (which had originally aired on Spanish TV in 2017), Netflix renewed Money Heist — producing and releasing three more seasons over the next three years.

Impressively, Money Heist: Part 3, Money Heist: Part 4, and Money Heist: Part 5 currently rank 5th, 3rd, and 2nd (respectively) on Netflix’s list of most popular non-English TV series of all time.

So…what does this have to do with U.S. baby names?

Characters from the TV series "Money Heist" (2017-2021).
The eight robbers of “Money Heist”

Well, to maintain their anonymity, the eight thieves went by city-inspired code-names: Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Nairobi, Rio, Denver, Helsinki, and Oslo.

While Moscow and Helsinki have never appeared in the U.S. baby name data, the six other city names have — and each one saw higher usage after Money Heist premiered on Netflix.

Let’s start with the biggest boosts…


Nairobi

(female character, played by Alba Flores)

Female usage of the baby name Nairobi began accelerating in 2018. (That massive jump in 2020 corresponds to a tragic Part 4 plot-twist.) Right now, the name is sitting just outside the girls’ top 1,000.

  • 2021: 241 baby girls named Nairobi [rank: 1,044th]
  • 2020: 215 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2019: 65 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2018: 37 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2017: 23 baby girls named Nairobi
  • 2016: 21 baby girls named Nairobi
Graph of the usage of the baby name Nairobi in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Nairobi

Rio

(male character, played by Miguel Herrán)

Male usage of the baby name Rio has risen significantly since 2018:

  • 2021: 396 baby boys named Rio [rank: 672nd]
  • 2020: 303 baby boys named Rio [rank: 776th]
  • 2019: 193 baby boys named Rio
  • 2018: 171 baby boys named Rio
  • 2017: 132 baby boys named Rio
  • 2016: 134 baby boys named Rio
Graph of the usage of the baby name Rio in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Rio

Denver

(male character played by Jaime Lorente)

The baby name Denver, which was already on the rise for boys, began rising even faster in 2018:

  • 2021: 577 baby boys named Denver [rank: 505th]
  • 2020: 540 baby boys named Denver [rank: 526th]
  • 2019: 422 baby boys named Denver [rank: 638th]
  • 2018: 370 baby boys named Denver [rank: 674th]
  • 2017: 273 baby boys named Denver [rank: 821st]
  • 2016: 268 baby boys named Denver [rank: 840th]
Graph of the usage of the baby name Denver in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Denver

Oslo

(male character, played by Roberto García Ruiz)

Male usage of the baby name Oslo has been rising steadily since 2018:

  • 2021: 49 baby boys named Olso
  • 2020: 38 baby boys named Olso
  • 2019: 29 baby boys named Olso
  • 2018: 22 baby boys named Olso
  • 2017: 14 baby boys named Olso
  • 2016: 12 baby boys named Olso
Graph of the usage of the baby name Oslo in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Oslo

Tokyo

(female character, played by Úrsula Corberó)

The baby name Tokyo, which had appeared in the data as a boy name a couple of times, finally debuted as a girl name in 2019:

  • 2021: 10 baby girls named Tokyo
  • 2020: 15 baby girls named Tokyo [peak usage]
  • 2019: 7 baby girls named Tokyo [gender-specific debut]
  • 2018: unlisted
  • 2017: unlisted
  • 2016: unlisted

Berlin

(male character, played by Pedro Alonso)

Male usage of the baby name Berlin increased slightly in 2019 and 2020:

  • 2021: 26 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2020: 29 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2019: 17 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2018: 11 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2017: 9 baby boys named Berlin
  • 2016: 5 baby boys named Berlin

Which of the above names to you like best? What other city names do you think work well as human names?

Sources:

P.S. Why were city names used as code-names on Money Heist? Álex Pina, the show’s creator, explained during an interview in 2018 that he’d been trying to come up with a theme for the code-names when, “one day, someone turned up with a T-shirt bearing the word Tokyo and that’s how it all began.”

3 thoughts on “How did “Money Heist” influence baby names?

  1. I know one man named Nairobi, born 1973 (which I only know because his birthday is the day before mine, so it stuck with me). I like that name on him, but none of the others from the tv show work very well as first names, in my opinion. Although maybe I would like them better in a Spanish-language show.

  2. Seeing as this is a Spanish crime drama series we’re talking about, I’m going to touch on the impact it had with regards to names given to Spanish babies.
    There are only two names on here that have risen thanks to ‘Money Heist’, Rio and Nairobi. Below are the number of babies receiving both names in the whole of Spain* (from INE) as well as Catalonia (Idescat):

    2021 (Catalonia): 34 boys named Rio (143rd), less than 4 girls named Nairobi
    2020: 77/23 boys in Spain*/Catalonia named Rio (276th/199th), 17/4 girls in Spain*/Catalonia named Nairobi (outside top 500/620th)
    2019: 44/5 boys in Spain*/Catalonia named Rio (388th/523rd), 6 girls in Spain* named Nairobi
    2018 (Spain*): 21 boys named Rio, 6 girls named Naibori
    2017 (Spain*): 8 boys named Rio, 4 girls named Nairobi
    2016 (Spain*): 8 boys named Rio, 1 girl named Nairobi

    * For this, I’m using the name data for people residing in Spain which includes those born abroad (basically overall number minus overseas number). As the threshold for a specific province (+ overseas) and decade is 5, the numbers for earlier years in the 2010s, where the number of overseas residents born in that decade were less than 5, may not be entirely accurate.

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