For many of us millennial mamas, the early aughts (aka the early 2000s) bring back fond memories of evenings spent gathered around the TV with our besties, watching our favorite weekly shows. The characters on those shows are ones we still reference today, so if you’re looking for a baby name, those characters may be the inspiration you need. Just like the fashion trends of the times (that’s right, denim miniskirts and tube tops have made a comeback), names can also be cyclical.
For example, Lucas was the heartthrob on One Tree Hill, and his name has been a popular one for a while — it’s ranked in the top 10 for the past 10 years, according to Babycenter. Or, if you want your baby to be the outlier in the crowd, you’ll find names that will automatically make people think of their early aught’s namesake.
From the Sopranos cliffhanger ending that fans are still debating to the TV couples that we always think about fondly (what do you think Seth and Summer are up to these days?), you can’t go wrong with naming your baby one of these names inspired by those television shows from the early aughts.
Played by Rachel Bilson on The OC, Summer is the fun, hilarious sidekick to Marissa. Name your own cutie this name, which reflects the most joyous and happy season of the year.
Best friend to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander was the only one in the gang without supernatural powers, yet he grew to become extremely brave and courageous. The name is the short form of the more common “Alexander,” and fittingly with the character, it is of Greek origin, meaning “defender of the people.” We predict this name may rise in popularity since “X” names are trending for 2023.
Another name from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow was Buffy’s best friend who was sweet, trusting, and sometimes naive. The name Willow is of Old English origin and means “willow tree,” which is known to be elegant and graceful.
Kooky, neurotic, and lovable, the sitcom Scrubs was ahead of its time to have a female character, played by Sarah Chalke, with the male-oriented name Elliot. Today, gender-neutral names are very popular, but Elliot isn’t one that we hear too often. For the kid who’s going to stand out as delightfully unique, this is a great name.
This name became popularized thanks to the iconic series Dawson’s Creek, which ran on the WB (remember that dancin’ frog?) from 1998 through 2003. The name Dawson has both English and Hebrew origins as a derivative of the name David. In Hebrew, it means “beloved” or “favorite,” and in English, it is a nickname for the Jackdaw (a type of bird).
Joey was another gender-neutral name we saw on our early aughts screens, played by Katie Holmes. Suitable for a baby boy or girl, the name has English origins meaning “God will increase.” It is also the name for a baby kangaroo, and we can’t help but think what a cute themed nursery that would be.
Charmed aired for eight seasons, and Piper was the Halliwell sister that kept their family glued together. Currently ranking as #97 on Babycenter’s top 100 names for 2022, it is a musical-sounding name with English origins meaning “flute player.”
Portrayed by Hilarie Burton, this One Tree Hill character dealt with a lot of loss, which made her known for her strength and independence. In Latin baby names, it means “regal” and can be used for either gender.
Any One Tree Hill fan of the time certainly had a crush on Lucas (played by Chad Michael Murray). Lucas has remained a popular male name for several years, currently ranking as #6 on Babycenter’s top 100 names for 2022. The name is the Latin form of the Greek name “Loukas,” which means “bringer of light” — appropriate for the joy a new baby will bring to your family!
While more people are probably familiar with the irreverent comedy now, Arrested Development actually first aired in the early aughts. David Cross portrayed oddball Tobias, a name with Hebrew and Greek origins meaning “God is good.” Great for the kid who is destined to bring lots of laughs.
Another name from Arrested Development, Maeby was a witty and cunning character portrayed by Alia Shawkat. The meaning of the name is “a bitter one,” and while that may not align with what you hope for your baby, we appreciate the uniqueness of the name itself and its sing-songy pronunciation.
For those of us who were watching true, quality, award-winning TV in the early aughts (not knocking anything else on this list), The West Wing was sure to be a part of the weekly rotation. Leo McGarry was one of the main characters, and that name has blown up in popularity over the last decade. Currently ranking as #10 on Babycenter’s top names of 2022, Leo is the Latin word for “lion,” the king of the jungle (and soon to be your household).
Another name from The West Wing, Martin Sheen portrayed President Josiah Bartlett. Josiah does have a presidential ring to it — as well as biblical since it’s derived from Hebrew origins that mean “fire of the Lord.” Currently #42 on the top baby names list, it comes with the great nickname Jed, which is what Mr. President often went by on The West Wing.
Our favorite mafia princess, Meadow Soprano, has a name that evokes feelings of warm weather and nature. The name first gained popularity in 2001, no doubt thanks to The Sopranos.
2004 brought us Lost, and if you were frightened to get on a plane during that time, it’s totally understandable. With Lost came Sawyer, the “bad boy” on the island. Of English origins, Sawyer means “woodcutter” and fits in the gender-neutral category.
Gilmore Girls showed us one of the best mother-daughter relationships around, so it makes sense to name your baby girl Rory in hopes of the same! It is currently one of the most popular gender-neutral names, ranking #13 on Babynames.com’s list. The name has Gaelic origins, meaning “red king.”
Chloe Sullivan on WB’s Smallville was curious and ambitious, making her a great namesake for your little one. The name Chloe means “blooming” or “fertility” in Greek, as well as has Protestant roots stemming from “yellow or green color.” Color names are predicted to be one of the biggest trends of 2023.
Fans are still not over Logan Echolls’s ending on Veronica Mars, which aired from 2004-2007. Honor his memory by using this name for your little boy (or girl). Logan is an old Gaelic name that means “little hollow.” Initially more popular for boys, it’s rising as a gender-neutral option.
For six years, sitcom fans enjoyed Malcolm in the Middle about a zany and less-than-perfect family. Malcolm, played by Frankie Nunez, is discovered to be an advanced genius. Name your own smartypants this moniker, which has Scottish origins meaning “devotee of Saint Columba.”
In the early aughts, we saw a lot of characters that reflected our own emotions of the time. Anyone who ever had to move to a new town and start over felt for Ephram, one of the leads of Everwood. This unique name doesn’t fall on any top naming charts, which works for parents looking for that one-of-a-kind name.