Throughout Friends’ 10-year run, baby names is a theme that shows up over and over. From the very first season, where a normally combative Ross and and Susan agree on a baby name for their first child with Carol (remember Ben?) to the episode where Rachel gives birth and “steals” the baby name Emma that Monica has been saving, there’s a lot of talk about monikers. (Do I even have to mention Princess Consuela and Crap Bag?) But nobody has as much conversation surrounding his name as Chandler Bing (aka Miss Chanandler Bong) and I think he’d be delighted to know that his fictional self inspired a whole bunch of baby Chandlers. Even if he wanted to rename himself Clint.
Baby names all have to start somewhere, and it’s pretty incredible to think about how one just takes hold of a culture and becomes popular for a generation of new babies. It is the perfect example of a zeitgeist; One pregnant person hears the name Ashley in the early 1980s and boom, there’s three in every preschool class for the next decade. Hollywood makes a movie starring a hunky Brad Pitt as Tristan Ludlow in Legends of the Fall and suddenly there are a million baby Tristans. And, believe it or not, Matthew Perry plays a beloved, awkward, self-deprecating BFF named Chandler Bing and changes the baby name popularity charts forever.
I know. Chandler. It doesn’t really feel like a name that belongs to anyone except Chandler Bing, right? But in the early ’90s, it was slowly creeping along the top 1000 popular baby names for boys, hitting #348 in 1994.
And then Friends premiered.
In 1995, the name jumped to #177 — a whopping 171 places in one year — and then coasted in the top 500 baby names until 2017. (It’s still in the top 1000.)
Even better? The name Chandler — which is French and stems from the word “chandelier” and means “candle maker” — was a steady girl choice in the ’90s, too. There isn’t much of a jump from when Friends premiered — it went from #444 in 1994 to #353 in 1995 — but it’s interesting to note that the name actually became less popular for girls as time went on. It’s easy to surmise that Chandler Bing became such a household name that it no longer felt like a gender neutral option, despite Phoebe’s insistence on naming one of her brother’s daughters Chandler. (“Chandler’s a girl! Chandler’s a girl!”)
But hey, you know what girl name does take quite a leap from the ‘90s that you can pin on Friends? Phoebe. Which goes from #813 in 1994 to #580 in 1995.
Chandler Bing’s name clearly has a journey on the show. From trying to change his own name (and Joey and Phoebe building up his confidence) to Monica being less-than-thrilled with the idea of changing her last name after marriage (“Let’s call the kid Geller and let Bing die with me”) to finding out that Chandler literally goes by “Toby” at work rather than correcting a co-worker, it’s a lot. But as the world has shared over and over again, Chandler Bing, despite his unique name, was the kind of guy worth naming your baby after.
Clearly Millennial parents know that as Chandler stays steady at #640 for boys and hangs on at #924 for girls. But I’ll have you know, Chandler Bing, that the name Clint hasn’t been on the top 1000 list since 2000. Could you be any more popular?