However, the 1984 film rom-com Splash, starring Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, unwittingly launched the name into popularity.
In the film, which was released by Walt Disney Studios’ label Touchstone Pictures, a mermaid girl rescues a young boy from drowning and returns to land to find him 20 years later while posing as a normal woman.
Hannah, who plays said mermaid-woman, tracks down her now-adult love interest, played by Hanks, in New York City. She learns to speak by watching television, but still can’t say her mermaid name out loud because it’s “hard to say in English.”
So, she and Hanks start brainstorming names that she could go by, when the pair walks past New York’s Madison Avenue.
“Madison! I like Madison!” the mermaid says.
“Well, Madison’s not a name,” Hanks’ character laughs.
Eventually, he agrees to the unconventional name, and the mermaid goes by Madison for the rest of the film.
It seems that parents in the 1980s and ’90s liked the moniker as well, because by 2001, 18 years after Splash was released, Madison was ranked the second most popular name for girls in the United States — an unprecedented 550,000 percent increase in usage, according to Behindthename.com.
TikTok users — including a handful of Madisons — were shocked by the name’s strange and recent origin story.
“pov: you’re a madison scrolling through a sea of madisons,” added another.
“I cant believe Tom Hanks invented Madison,” said a non-Madison.
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