From a season 10 episode [vid] of the TV show Friends, a quote from character Phoebe Buffay, who had just legally changed her name:
Apparently you can change it to anything you want, so I thought, all right, here’s an opportunity to be creative. So, meet Princess Consuela Banana-Hammock.
From a Graham Norton Show episode [vid] that aired in October, 2014, in which comedian Stephen Fry gives actor Robert Downey, Jr., a baby name suggestion:
Could you, just as a favor, cause I know that, you know, some stars like to give unusual names, could you call him or her Uppy? Uppy Downey?
(Downey and his wife Susan welcomed a baby girl that November. But they didn’t name her “Uppy.” Her full name is Avri Roel Downey.)
Real Housewives of Potomac cast member Wendy Osefo told the story behind her name in an episode from late 2020:
For Wendy Osefo, being named after a popular fast food restaurant chain is a constant reminder of her family’s hard work and success.
“My parents came to this country with nothing. My dad worked at a fast food restaurant and one day he found out that he was being promoted to manager,” Wendy recalled on The Real Housewives of Potomac‘s November 8 episode. “He was so happy that to thank this country for giving him the opportunity to be a manager, he named his second daughter after that restaurant: Wendy.”
She added, “I am literally the embodiment of the American dream.”
From a Good Morning America article about the ’90s sitcom Saved by the Bell:
The names of characters came from people [executive producer Peter] Engel knew growing up.
“I knew a guy named Screech Washington. He was a producer. I said I’m not going to hire him, but I’m going to steal your name,” he said. “Slater was a kid who was in my son’s kindergarten class, Zack was named after my dear, dear friend, John DeLorean. […] His son’s name was Zack. Lisa Turtle was a girl I knew and Mr. Belding, Richard Belding, had been my cranky editor when I worked at Universal.”
From a season 1 episode of The Mindy Project:
Mindy: I want kids, four kids. Madison, Jayden, Bree and the little one’s Piper.
Danny: Are you kidding me with those names? You want a bunch of girls who work at the mall?
From a 2006 article recounting how BBC News mistook one guy named Guy for another guy named Guy:
The BBC interviewed the wrong Guy.
The network has apologized to its viewers for a studio mixup that resulted in a mystery man appearing on live television as Guy Kewney – an expert on Internet music downloads.
In fact the mystery man was Guy Goma, a Congolese man applying for a technology-related job with the British Broadcasting Corp., who followed an employee to the studio after a mistake at a reception desk, the corporation said late Monday.
From a blog post about an episode of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress:
Duvae, a 19-year-old bride from Utah, explained to consultant JB that her namesake is “duvet” because her parents knew she’d be a comforter in their lives.
From a 2009 episode of the The Rachel Maddow Show:
[T]he single, least important but most amazing thing about covering the life and times of Buddy Cianci for me was always the name of his wife. Buddy Cianci was married to a woman named Nancy Ann. Here name is Nancy Ann Cianci. Nancy Ann Cianci — the single, most awesome name in all of the names tangentially related to American political scandal ever. Nancy Ann Cianci.
From an interview with Emilia Clarke, following the Game of Thrones finale:
Q: I would guess that [the parents who] named [their daughters] Khaleesi in the spirit of empowerment. And yet the character has taken this rather dark turn.
A: I know! It doesn’t take away from her strength, though — it doesn’t take away from her being an empowered woman.
I think that, when you see the final episode, they’ll see there is a beginning and a middle and an end to her as a character. I think that there are people that will agree with her, because she’s a human being.
And Khaleesi is a beautiful name. [Laughs] It’ll all be forgotten in a minute! You know, and people will just go, “Oh, what an unusual name, how fabulous,” and the child will say, “Yes, yes. My parents just really liked the name.”
From a letter written by Mr. Rogers to a fan named Jason in 1987:
You asked me what my middle name is. When you care about people, you want to know more about them. My middle name is McFeely. I was named after my Grandfather McFeely. That’s the name we decided to use for the man who does the deliveries on our television visits.
The red carpet prank pulled on actress Jameela Jamil at the Golden Globes back in January:
Jameela Jamil’s name was spelled wrong on E! News during the red carpet show before the 76th annual Golden Globes.
In place of The Good Place star’s name, the network referenced a plot point from the show — that Jamil’s character, Tahani, is always outshined by her sister, Kamilah Al-Jamil.
Jamil herself was more than a good sport about the misnaming at the Globes. “This is legit the funniest thing I have ever seen,” the actress tweeted. “Tahani would DIE!”
From a season 12 episode of The Simpsons, in which Lisa meets a boy named Thelonious:
Thelonious: My name’s Thelonious.
Lisa Simpson: As in Monk?
Thelonious: Yes. The esoteric appeal is worth the beatings.
From an article about the name Brenton being trendy in Adelaide in the 1980s:
No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the US is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon.
The miniseries first ran on Australian television in October 1983 and was later broadcast on the American channel HBO in January 1984.
From comedian John Oliver‘s 2008 TV special Terrifying Times:
[A] friend of mine emailed me and he said that someone had created a Wikipedia entry about me. I didn’t realize this was true, so I looked it up. And like most Wikipedia entries, it came with some flamboyant surprises, not least amongst them my name. Because in it it said my name was John Cornelius Oliver. Now my middle name is not Cornelius because I did not die in 1752. But obviously, I want it to be. Cornelius is an incredible name. And that’s when it hit me — the way the world is now, fiction has become more attractive than fact. That is why Wikipedia is such a vital resource. It’s a way of us completely rewriting our history to give our children and our children’s children a much better history to grow up with.
From a 2020 episode [vid] of the competition show Penn & Teller: Fool Us:
You gave me this pen. And you gave me the pen with a joke — a joke about my name. You said, “Here’s a pen, Penn.”
When I was in grade school, it would be, “Hey Penn, got a pencil?” “Hey Penn, how’s pencil?” I should have an index of all those pen jokes that were told to me. I’d have over fifty, maybe more than that. It was amazing.
From a 1962 episode [vid] of The Dick Van Dyke Show, a conversation between main character Rob Petrie and his son, Ritchie Rosebud Petrie:
Rob: …and there’s no reason to look so sad, your middle name isn’t really Rosebud.
Ritchie: Yes it is, my birth certificate says it’s Rosebud.
Rob: Yes it does, but do you know why?
Ritchie: No, but I wish it was ‘Jim.’
Rob: Ritch, we have really a wonderful family. When they all found out that Mom and I were gonna have a baby, they all wanted to name you after somebody they loved very much.
(He then lists and explains all seven suggested names.)
Rob: So you see, Ritch, actually, your middle name is Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin, Ulysses, David. And, the initials to all of your middle names spells…
The above scene is referenced in an article about the 2019 Mad About You reboot:
On the original show, Theresa was portrayed by Burnett as a bit overbearing. But, she always brought extra love…and helped them name their daughter Mabel. When Jamie and Paul Buchman (Paul Reiser) couldn’t decide on a name for their baby, Theresa proclaimed that “Mothers Always Bring Extra Love,” an homage to The Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob and Laura explain Ritchie’s middle name. The Buchman’s decide to call their daughter Mabel.
From a season 3 episode of the TV show Friends, a quote from character Chandler Bing:
You know, I can handle it. Handle’s my middle name. Actually it’s the, uh…the middle part of my first name.
From an early 2016 episode [vid] of The Graham Norton Show in which comedian Kevin Hart talks about baby names following a discussion between Graham and Ice Cube about Cube’s birth name (O’Shea Jackson):
Lemme educate you on something. Black people are notorious for picking things that they saw one day and saying, “That’s my baby name.” That’s all that was. That’s all that was, Graham. It was nothing — there was no amazing story behind it. We’d love to tell you, yes, it actually came from a Irish forefather that did this…that’s not the case. His mother was reading the paper, and she was eating some cereal, and somebody in back said, “O’Shea!” She said, “That’d be a good name for the baby.” That’s it. That’s how it happened.
(Name quotes #41 includes a quote from O’Shea himself.)
From an interview with Chrishell Stause of the reality show Selling Sunset at Vulture.com:
I was not born in a Shell station. I hate to disappoint people that think I was. My mom was getting car work done, and an attendant at the station was helping her and keeping her calm. Obviously she couldn’t drive to the hospital then, so the ambulance came. I made it to the hospital, but she wanted to name me after him. He worked at the Shell station, so she just thought “Chris, shell” — let’s stick them together. And you know, Chrishell was born, quite literally.
From multiple episodes of the ’80s sitcom Newhart:
“I’m Larry, this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.”
From a mid-2013 episode [vid] of the TV show This Morning, in which British reality TV star Katie Hopkins argued in favor of judging children by their names:
- “A name for me is a shortcut, it’s an efficient way of working out what class that child comes from. Do I want my children to play with them?”
- “I tend to think children that have intelligent names tend to have fairly intelligent parents and they make much better play dates, therefore, for my children.”
- “I don’t judge people on their surnames but certainly I do make a very quick decision based on their first names and there’s a whole bunch of first names that I don’t like. I don’t like footballers’ names, I don’t like names after seasons of the year, I don’t like geographical location names, celebrity names, things like Apple.”
(Ironically, one of Katie’s three children is named India.)
From comedian Ali Wong’s 2016 stand-up special Ali Wong: Baby Cobra [vid]:
I’m just waiting for the right moment to, like, become a housewife, financially, you know? I want my husband to get us to, like, a certain point financially. I wanna get to the point as a couple where I can comfortably afford sliced mango. Know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about that Whole Foods mango. That $10-a-box Whole Foods mango that was sliced by white people. That’s the kind of income bracket I’m striving for. That’s when you know you’ve made it, when you’re eating mango that was sliced by a dude named Noah. I want Noah mango, Rebecca kiwi, Danielle pineapple.
From a season 3 episode [vid] of the sitcom Black-ish:
Bow: You’re not serious about naming our kid DeVante, are you?
Dre: What exactly is your problem with that name?
Bow: It’s unconventional, Dre. I grew up as Rainbow, ok? Rainbow. That was not easy.
Dre: Yeah that’s because Rainbow is the name that white people give cocker spaniels. DeVante is a great name, it has cultural significance.
Bow: DeVante is the name of the least important member of Jodeci.
Dre: No, the least important member of Jodeci was Mr. Dalvin and you know that.
From a 2012 episode of The X-Factor USA:
Simon Powell: Why were you called Panda?
Panda Ross: My mom, well, she was kinda, you know, in jail when she had me, and her cellmate was a white lady, she was black, and so, they just kinda came up with the name.
Images: Screenshots of Friends, BBC News, E! News, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Newhart