(WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Westworld Season 1, Episodes 1–8. Make sure you're up to date before reading!)
When it was first announced that Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy would be teaming up to bring a HBO adaptation of Michael Crichton's #Westworld, viewers who love to delve deeper into a show knew they'd be in for a treat. Combining Nolan's acclaim for multi-layered stories like #ThePrestige and unorthodox narrative structure like #Memento makes him perfect for #HBO television. Needless to say, Westworld's first season is a huge hit, and the key to success has been the astonishing depth of Nolan and Joy's writing. A fantastic example of this is the names used for Westworld's characters. In fact, character names are so significant in the show that they can tell us a lot about a their nature and, perhaps more importantly, their fate.
From a storytelling perspective, it makes perfect sense for Westworld's hosts to have meanings behind their names. They're created for specific purposes and have carefully prepositioned characteristics before their "birth," so the park's creatives have every reason to give them names that are a perfect match. However, it's not just the hosts that have names that reveal a surprising amount of information about these characters and their storylines in HBO's Westworld. Starting with the (known) hosts, let's take a look at each major character, the history behind their name and what it means for the show's future.
Dolores Abernathy: 'Virgin Mary Of Sorrows'
As the park's porcelain-skinned darling, it's no surprise that this host was given the name "Dolores." In Spanish, the language from which the name originates, Dolores is short for "La Virgen María de los Dolores." This translates as "Virgin Mary of Sorrows."
Another reference that may end up being important is that one of the leading scientists in Crichton's original 1973 Westworld was called Dr. Arnold Abernathy. Whether Arnold's surname will be Abernathy in the show is still unknown, but it's still a possibility until his full name has been revealed.
Maeve Millay: 'Warrior Queen Of Fairies'
According to Irish legend, Maeve (or Medb in old Irish) was the "Warrior Queen of Fairies" and the goddess of intoxication. Much like the Westworld character, Medb was notoriously beautiful and had powerful sexual prowess. Given her recent escapades, it's certainly a fitting name and Maeve's mythical title as "Queen" could be a signifier that she will succeed in gathering an army of hosts sooner rather than later. But that's not all, as Maeve's surname is also significant. Millay refers to the American poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, who famously said:
"It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it's one damn thing over and over."
For Maeve, this quote has become less and less true. As the "warrior queen," have no doubt that she'll have her army very soon.
Teddy Flood: 'God's Gift'
Teddy Flood is a character that has kept us guessing throughout the first season. He initially appeared to be a guest at the park. Since we discovered he was a host whose backstory has been developed by Ford, this only makes him a bigger curiosity throughout Season 1. This is also represented in his name, which is just as contradictory as his backstory is to his character.
Theodore (Teddy's real name) comes from the Greek name Theodōros, meaning "God's gift," while Flood refers to the biblical flood. The Book of Genesis tells the story of God's cleansing of the earth in an attempt to undo his mistakes and make the world anew. Keeping both of these in mind, we probably should've known that Teddy was going to be important to the Man in Black's search for the maze.
Hector Escaton: 'The End Of The World'
Teddy isn't the only one whose name forewarns the end of the world. Hector's last name, Escaton, is very likely a reference to "eschaton," meaning "the final event in the divine plan; the end of the world."
"Immanentize the eschaton" means to attempt to end the world, but also to bring heaven to Earth, so Hector's part to play in Maeve's army isn't clear just yet. As his name has two meanings, it's still hard to say what Hector's future intentions are, but we can be certain that they'll be very important to the park's destruction.
Clementine Pennyfeather: 'The Merciful'
This is certainly one of Westworld's most in-your-face name references. Clementine means to be merciful and gentle, attributes that are synonymous with Clementine Pennyfeather. This was most memorably shown in the bedroom with William.
Clementine's name is also a reference to the western folk ballad, "Oh my darling, Clementine." Essentially, she's a host suitable for guests that find a rose-tinted view of the old West. Personally, I'm hoping that Clementine returns to the show far less merciful than her name suggests, thanks to some alterations by Maeve.
Armistice: 'The Peacemaker'
Another literal name by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan is "Armistice," meaning "a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting."
This could mean that Armistice will be involvement in the often-referenced "end of the world," bringing two parties together. However, this is much more likely to be the warring hosts. Perhaps upon realizing that her memories aren't real, she'll stop her search for vengeance and put her efforts into bringing down the park. Either way, it makes much more sense for an armistice to happen between the warring hosts, rather than an eventual armistice between hosts and humans — which is very bad news for Westworld staff!
Lawrence / El Lazo: 'The Noose'
Lawrence a.k.a. "El Lazo" is perhaps the best example in the show so far of a name that gave us more information than we first thought. In Spanish, El Lazo literally means "the loop," referencing the host's loops while also referring to a lasso and/or noose. So, while we waited patiently to discover who El Lazo was, it was possible to predict that El Lazo would be Lawrence — the man who has either been tied to a lasso or a noose throughout the entire show.
Bernard Lowe: Brave New World's 'Subservient Worker'
While some theorists claim that Bernard got his name because of the Germanic reference to being brave and strong, a popular theory is that Bernard is a host rebuilt in the image of Arnold. If this is the case, it would make sense for Bernard's full name, Bernard Lowe, to be an anagram of Arnold Weber.
However, there's also a more concrete reason for the AI's name. There's a main character called Bernard in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a novel that acted as inspiration for the show. Brave New World's Bernard acts as the main character for the first half of the novel, and is a typically subservient man working in a conditioning center. Sound familiar? Well, this is where things get really interesting.
As I previously mentioned, the hosts have a legitimate, logical reason to have names with a close relationship to their characteristics. However, when it comes to the (believed-to-be) humans of the show, there's less reason to include references that may predict their actions. However, this is exactly what's happened with Westworld, giving fan theorists plenty to read into. This is most notable with our leading man, Robert Ford.
Robert Ford: 'The Coward That Killed Jesse James'
I'm sure many historians, western aficionados and Brad Pitt fans will have picked up on this reference since the beginning. Robert Ford is the name of the gunslinger who famously assassinated the old west's most notorious outlaw, Jesse James. The bizarre nature of James's murder and his friendship with Ford is already beginning to parallel the working relationship between Robert and Arnold.
The gunslinging pair worked together as outlaws, with Ford acting as a half-fan, half-protege to Jesse James. Once Ford betrayed Jesse James, he went on a theater tour to earn money by repeatedly reenacting the murder. Not only should this remind us of the host's loops, but it could be a huge plot point regarding Arnold's fate. In fact, it could be a not-so-subtle hint that Robert had more to do with Arnold's death than he'll admit, with Arnold being praised by the Man in Black as the "true" creator of the park, just as Jesse James was the "true" glorified outlaw in the public's opinion.
Robert's strange family reunions in the park is also remarkably similar to the real Robert Ford's reenactments of the time he killed his friend. Either way, his name heavily hints that the Man in Black is right: Ford is just an imitator of Arnold's genius, and he was instrumental to his death.
Theresa Cullen: 'The Collector'
Theresa derives from the Greek verb, θερίζω, which means "to harvest." Similarly, her last name derives from "colligere," which means "to collect." Although her involvement in the show has come to an end, it's still worth mentioning that her name applied to her purpose in the park. This is because, due to her death, we can be certain that Theresa was human — disproving any notion that "human" characters have suspiciously appropriate names because they're actually hosts.
William The 'Resolute Protector' & 'Hollow' Logan:
William and Logan's names certainly give away the least out of all of Westworld's central characters. However, online theorists have noted that William means "resolute protector" in its German origin. Also, Logan derives from Gaelic's "lagan," a diminutive of "lag" meaning "hollow."
It's also worth mentioning that the popular theory that the Man in Black is actually William in a different time frame could, if proven, explain the importance of the Man in Black's real name. He certainly didn't seem like a "resolute protector" early in the season, but now we can't be sure.
Felix & Sylvester: 'The House Cats'
Just when you thought Nolan and Joy might be taking themselves incredibly seriously with Westworld, they prove that they're not afraid to have a little fun, too. Felix and Sylvester are butchers in the show and they share the names of famous cartoon cats. Not only that, but each character shares characteristics with the cat they're named after. While Felix is the curious, apathetic and friendly type, Sylvester has been far less caring for Maeve's existential crisis. This is reflective of Felix the Cat and Looney Tunes's Sylvester.
I know what you're thinking: I'm really stretching here. But there's a huge amount of evidence to support this playful reference from the writers. Felis Sylvestris is a species of wild cat that has evolved into domesticity, referring to the pair's work at the park. Furthermore, the way Felix gives life to a small bird while Sylvester wants to catch and kill it really hammers home these references. However, it's also not looking good for Westworld's butchers. As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat.
Looking for more Westworld theories? How about this video below that explores the possibility of Arnold's true identity?
Keep up with all the original Movie Pilot original video content right here.
Was there something we missed? Do you believe these character names have importance to the show's storylines? Let me know what you think about this with a comment below.