Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Keeping Up with the Millers

No. Not the Joneses. The Millers.

Last night you may have watched Wentworth Miller in ''Prison Break.'' He played Michael Scofield, the structural engineer who plans to break his brother out of prison.

Miller. That seems like a pretty common name. I wonder. Is that surname also common in TV Land? Yep. Turns out that Miller is the most common surname in television history. More than 50 primetime network TV series have featured a character having Miller for a last name.

What's the second most common surname? You're probably guessing Smith. Johnson. Williams. Jones. Maybe even Brown. All good guesses since these names ARE the five most popular surnames according to the United States Census Bureau. It has to be one of these, right? Nope. None of them. The second most common TV character name is....Cooper. Cooper? Yep. All the way down there at #62 on the list of most common names in the United States--but very popular on TV. Do the Brits really influence American TV that much?

And what about the surnames Brown and White? How does TV do with names that may reference race? These names are apparently very taboo for TV characters. Brown is the 15th most popular TV name (US Census: 5) while White is the 60th most popular TV name (US Census: 14).

Just click on "(+/-)popular surnames" to see the 10 most popular surnames for TV characters in primetime network TV history.

(+/-)popular surnames

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