Why does Martha call Donny Baby Reindeer? Explained

The meaning behind
The meaning behind 'Baby Reindeer' explored (via Netflix)

Netflix's Baby Reindeer is the perfect binge for fans of psychological thrillers. Released on April 11, 2024, to critical acclaim, the dark comedy miniseries follows Donny, a struggling comedian and bartender, who becomes the victim of a woman's obsession.

After a kind gesture at a bar, Donny begins to get stalked by Martha. She sends him thousands of messages, emails, voicemails, and gifts as she repeatedly follows him and threatens his loved ones. Throughout the show, she keeps calling him a "baby reindeer."

In the final episode of the series, it is revealed that Martha had a childhood toy of a baby reindeer that was a source of comfort for her during dark times. Donny reminded her of her stuffed toy, which is why she calls him "baby reindeer" in the show.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for the Netflix miniseries, Baby Reindeer.

The story behind Donny's "Baby Reindeer" nickname

Donny and Martha at a bar (via Netflix)
Donny and Martha at a bar (via Netflix)

The first episode of the Netflix show introduces Martha as a lonely woman who sits in sad silence at a bar. The bartender, Donny, takes pity on her and offers her a cup of tea for free.

This small exchange starts a chain of events that derails Donny's life in a traumatic way. Martha begins to flirt with him and calls him various nicknames, one of them being "baby reindeer." She begins sending him hundreds of text messages and emails that make him quite uncomfortable.

Martha also shows up uninvited to Donny's comedy show and repeatedly interrupts his act. Her obsession soon turns dangerous as she sends abusive messages to his ex-girlfriend Keeley and physically attacks Teri, a transwoman he is secretly dating.

Jessica Gunning as Martha (via Netflix)
Jessica Gunning as Martha (via Netflix)

In the end, Donny reports Martha to the police. However, they inform him that she can only be arrested if she makes a threat. This prompts Donny to listen to her voicemails, combing through thousands of them in order to find some incriminating evidence. Eventually, Martha threatens to stab Donny's parents, which gets her arrested.

During her trial, Martha pleads guilty and is sentenced to nine months in prison and five years of probation. Despite the stalking finally ending, Donny feels lonely and enters into a state of depression. He begins listening to Martha's voicemails as a source of comfort.

Richard Gadd as Donny (via Netflix)
Richard Gadd as Donny (via Netflix)

While sitting at a bar, Donny listens to one of Martha's messages where she reveals:

"I had this wee cuddly toy when I was young. Went with me everywhere. Earliest memory I have, I think, was Christmastime. This old photo of me, sitting with this paper hat on my head and this baby reindeer beside me."

She continues:

"Anyway, this reindeer was this cuddly, fluffy thing. It had big lips, huge eyes, and the cutest wee bum. I still have it to this day. It was the only good thing about my childhood. I’d hug it when they fought. And they fought a lot, you know?"

This reveals that Martha did not have a happy childhood. While other sources of unhappiness besides her parents fighting are not disclosed, it can be understood that her toy was a source of comfort for her. The voicemail continues:

"Well, you are the spit of that reindeer. The same nose. Same eyes. Same cute wee bum. It means so much to me. You… You mean so much to me."
A still from the show (via Netflix)
A still from the show (via Netflix)

Donny breaks down into tears as he listens to Martha's words. When the bartender asks after him, Donny realizes that his wallet is not on him. In a scene mirroring the first episode, the barman takes pity and gives him the drink for free.


Based on a true story, all seven episodes of Baby Reindeer are currently available to stream on Netflix.

Quick Links

App download animated image Get the free App now