After Daenerys's GoT Twist, What If You'd Named Your Child Khaleesi?

In 2018, there were 560 Khaleesis born in the US alone

Warning: Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 5 below.

It might be something of an awkward week for parents who looked to Game of Thrones for baby-name inspiration, and chose to call their girls Daenerys or Khaleesi – only for the mother of dragons to turn to the dark side.

Both names have proved popular since the show began, remaining in the top 1000 girls’ names – in 2018, there were 560 Khaleesis born in the US alone – but naming a child after a magical princess perhaps feels somewhat different from naming a child after a mass-murdering warlord, which is what Daenerys appears to have become.


Khaleesi, meaning queen in Game of Thrones language Dothraki, is among the many titles of Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke. But one of the things that is both fun and knackering in the A Song Of Ice And Fire books is that author George R.R. Martin noticed that, in fiction, two characters rarely share the same first name. He therefore included several Roberts, a good few Jons and more than one Brandon. That presumably means there are also plenty of other Daenerys within the Game Of Thrones world – so yours isn’t necessarily named after the one burning a city with a dragon. Right?

Whether they’re in Game of Thrones or not, there is always risk when naming children after fictional characters if their stories are still ongoing, because who’s to say where the narrative will take them? Twisty-turny shows are always looking for new ways to surprise viewers, and moments like Dany’s are ratings gold.

Even long-finished series might pose problems if they do a Star Wars and come back. What if you don’t like the resurrected version? What if they re-cast it with your least favourite actor, or write the character really poorly? Even looking to real-life celebrities isn’t straightforward without a crystal ball to look to the future.

But then arguably, that’s true of any name you give your child: you could name them after your best friend, only to find that best friend in bed with your partner. You might choose a beautiful name only to find it’s adopted by a group or organisation you feel strongly against.

The thing is, if you look hard enough you can always find a reason not to use a name – if you want to be a dick about what someone’s called their child, you can be a dick about it. Enough bad people have done enough bad things that most names are likely to be represented somewhere. Would the actions of one bad John mean an end to Johns? No.

And Khaleesi is a pretty name, and means something nice. It’s arguable that its popularity means that it has already transcended the books it came from. This has happened before – the name Wendy was rarely used before J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, yet swiftly became a ‘real’ name.

There are enough Khaleesis that the name will have a life of its own, as they grow up and babies are named in turn after them. A kid in 2079 will be named after her grandmother Khaleesi – and people will think it’s a lovely name. Because that’s what it now is: a lovely name, and one that will long outlast the memory of someone called it doing something bad on a TV show.