What do you do if you’ve named your baby after a genocidal maniac?
That’s the question facing thousands of parents in America this morning after last night’s Game of Thrones took a sudden and very dark turn in the story arc of one of the show’s chief characters.
In the world of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, Daenerys Targaryen is an exiled princess who yearns to reclaim a usurped throne. On the way there she liberates slaves, punishes their captors and gives birth (in a manner of speaking) to three dragons. These fantasy heroics inspired legions of real-world admirers, who turned her into a symbol of female empowerment.
Then, in last night’s episode, she wantonly slaughtered thousands of innocents in a fit of rage, becoming the very sort of tyrant she was previously dedicated to overthrowing.
That could spell trouble for the thousands of American parents who’ve named their babies after the character.
Data from the Social Security Administration show that since the HBO version of “Game of Thrones” first aired in 2011, at least 3,500 American girls have been named either ‘Daenerys’ or ‘Khaleesi’ (one of the character’s royal titles) in her honor. Included in this tally are a number of common misspellings (‘Kaleesi’ and ‘Danerys,’ for instance).
But since the database doesn’t include names that appear fewer than five times in a given year, the actual number of children named after the character is almost certainly higher.
“Khaleesi” alone was the 549th most popular name for girls in 2018, according to the Social Security Administration, ranking above such classics as Priscilla (575th), Anne (599th) and Rosie (619th).
Now many of those parents may be having second thoughts, underscoring the dangers of embracing fictional characters whose full story arcs have yet to be written.
At one point in the recent episode, Daenerys incinerates a peasant woman and her young daughter, perhaps a nod from the showrunners to the parents feeling betrayed after propping the character up as a symbol of girl power.