Discussing baby names with my husband was about as much fun as that time I broke my toe doing a back walkover. We couldn’t agree on anything and were in serious danger of leaving the hospital with a nameless babe, a dilemma that’s probably all too familiar if you’ve ever tried to choose a moniker for a human. This survey found that 75% of new parents bicker over just that and it’s the top cause for arguments among expectant parents. My partner and I fell squarely into this majority. The thing is, I knew there were a few names he’d go for—anything involving “Darth” or the quintessential Star Wars anti-hero, “Han”—but I wasn’t sure a rogue-inspired name would be a good fit just because it would put an end to our heated debates. Villain names may be a thing, some more popular than others, but what’s the deal with them? 

What are Villain Names?

Literature, mythology, and pop culture are the inspiration behind a class of names referred to as “villain names.” These “dark names” or “anti-hero names” ring eerie and ominous and evoke images of mystery and mayhem. It’s hard to think of the name “Darth”  and not feel a deep sense of intimidation and dread—or break out into a lightsaber battle—even if he is one of film’s most famous fathers.

Related: What Were the Most Popular Baby Names 100 Years Ago

Star Wars isn’t the only pop-culture franchise that’s given parents a slew of sinister name choices. Over the years, the Marvel Universe, DC Comics, Harry Potter, and even Disney have contributed to this list. And then, of course, let’s not forget the OG names taken from traditional folklore or classic mythology. Parents are choosing from all of these categories, some more than others, and we certainly don’t want to keep you in the dark, so here are 17 popular “villain names” you might consider or come across in the playground. 


This one first entered the baby name lexicon in 2004, one year before the release of the final prequel, Revenge of the Sith. In 2014, Anakin debuted on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Top 1000 Names at number 959 and has steadily risen in popularity, since reaching 543. Anakin means “warrior” in Sanskrit, but it’s best known as the greatest villain/redemption story in the Star Wars saga. 


This DC Comics supervillain has superhero strength and stamina, most recently portrayed by actor Tom Hardy in the 2012 movie The Dark Knight Rises after making his comic-book debut in 1993. With Old English and Slavic origins, the name Bane means “cause of distress” or “annoyance”—and picking a baby name sure can be the bane of your existence. But this one is a slow burn, sitting at number 5640 in U.S. Births


You might think this name is “strange” (Harry Potter fans totally got that reference). Still, this villainess’s name from the magical Wizarding World is derived from the Latin word bellum meaning “war” and translated as “female warrior.” Today, Bellatrix doesn’t hold a space on the 1000 list, but 35 baby girls in 2021 were enchanted with this no-nonsense moniker. 


Horror movie fans know the antichrist character Damien from the Omen movie franchise, which began in 1976. Damien is derived from the Greek “Damianous” which means to “tame” or “subdue.” In 2023 this name for the ages was holding steady at number 330, according to the SSA. 


You might be surprised to know that this name has been on the Top 1000 list since 1901. Dexter hit its stride in 2010—four years after the premiere of Showtime’s popular drama series about a serial killer. The moniker with Latin origins comes from the Old English “dyer,” as in the occupation of “one who dyes,” and also means “right-handed.”  The name continues to hold a place on the SSA’s list of the Top 1000 Names, coming in at 700. 


The opening of the first Harry Potter movie saw the name Draco first “apparating” in the muggle world, and it has been out there ever since. With roots going back to ancient Greek, Draco is the Greco-Latin word meaning “serpent” or “dragon.” Nameberry ranks it at 694 in popularity out of 1000, and in 2021 the SSA tallied 160 boys named Draco.  


Believed to be of German roots meaning “spear” or “truth,” this name first floated into the zeitgeist in the early 1900s, hovering at number 279 according to the SSA.  Recent generations will recognize Elvira Mistress of the Dark, who hosted a weekly horror movie show called Elvira’s Movie Macabre from 1981 to 1993. Though it was number 927 on the Top 1000 chart in 1981, Elvira has since fallen off and is now ranked nationally at 1804. 


From Ancient Greek meaning “amber” or “shining,” Elektra was a woman of fierce justice in Greek Mythology involved in a classic revenge tale—helping to kill her mother and her mom’s lover because they murdered her father. This ancient name has never electrified the top of the name lists, so if you’re looking for an uncommon moniker rest assured that at last count only 18 baby girls in 2021 were named Electra.  


Forcing (yep, Star Wars pun) its way onto the name charts in 2016, Kylo has only risen in popularity. The American moniker has multiple meanings, including “sky” and “created name.” It’s also thought to be a variation of the more traditional name, Kyle, which means “narrow spit of land.” Adam Driver’s performance as the villain Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequels made this name famous, reaching number 405 on the charts in 2023. 


The ultimate supervillain and nemesis to DC Comics hero Superman, Lex (Luther) first appeared on the scene in 1940. A nickname for “Alexander” meaning “defender of mankind,” the proper name has been on the SSA charts since 1900. Based on 100 years of data, the SSA estimates the population of people named Lex to be 2471, and its counterpart Alexander tops the charts at number 27. 


Derived from the Akkadian word “lilitu” meaning “of the night,” Lilith gets her fame from Jewish folklore: As Adam’s first wife, she was banished from Eden for not submitting to him (not an evil act if you ask us, but some stories accuse her of harming children and expectant moms). In more modern times, TV shows like Cheers, True Blood, and even a popular music festival (Lilith Fair) all celebrate this ancient name. Barely squeezing in on the SSA charts in 2010, it has slowly risen and now shines bright at number 232. 


The ultimate trickster, this god from Norse Mythology is “burdened with glorious purpose.” Possibly derived from the Germanic word meaning “lock,” Loki is the god of mystery and deception. First appearing in Marvel comics in 1962, actor Tom Hiddleston brought this mischief-maker to life in the 2011 movie Thor. Loki has recently been falling in popularity, but it’s still the 1237th most popular boy name. 


A name of Welsh origin meaning “sea-born” or “of the sea,” Morgan gets her fame from the Arthurian legend. Morgan le Fey, possibly one of the best-known fairy enchantresses, is King Arthur’s half-sister and worst enemy. Books like The Once and Future King and popular movies like Excalibur all illuminate her complex journey. This centuries-old moniker moved onto the Top 1000 Names in 1976 and has continued to rise and fall. Today, she holds on proudly at 247. 


You might not immediately think “villain” with this well-known name, but those who know “Norman Bates” from Hitchcock’s film noir Psycho can never forget. From English origins meaning “northerner,” the name Norman has been a staple on the name charts, peaking in 1931. Over the last several years it has fallen fast in popularity, but is holding steady at 906. 


Yep, we’re going to open this box and tell you that this name of Greek origin means “all gifts.” According to mythology, Pandora was the first mortal woman and the gods gifted her a box—but told her not to open it. Curiosity overcame her, and in opening the box she unwittingly unleashed evils like sickness and death into the world. This name mysteriously appeared on the Top 1000 list in 1952 at 784 before disappearing. Today, Pandora isn’t very popular at number 5357


This name knows a little magic as the comedic villainess in Disney’s classic The Little Mermaid. Ursula has roots in Latin and is translated from the word “ursa” meaning “little female bear.” A popular name in the Middle Ages, Ursula appears here in modern times on the SSA list at number 912. Falling off the Top 1000 in 1983, Ursula is now ranked as the 1126th most popular name in the U.S. with an estimated population of 28,050. 


The epic The Godfather trilogy introduced many unforgettable characters, not the least of which is head mobster Vito Corleone. The name Vito comes from the Latin word “vita,” meaning “life.” This calculating character rose to fame through Marlon Brando’s portrayal in the first Godfather movie. Falling in popularity since 1980, the last calculation ranked Vito at 1657 in 2022.

Are Villain Names a good idea?

Drawing a quote from Shakespearean anti-hero Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” That’s to say that names aren’t inherently bad or good, and your kiddo won’t be evil if they’re named after a bad guy. But if your association with a “villain name” (or any other name for that matter) gives you negative vibes, there are plenty of other options to consider. In the end, pick a name that feels best to you, which is just what my husband and I ended up doing. No, it wasn’t Darth, but Morgan was on my shortlist.

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