The fan favourites
From heroes and villains to comedy protagonists and their hillarious sidekicks, there are countless characters who will go down in history for their memorable portrayals on screen. So, to find out which characters have truly captured the world's attention we explored search volumes, social media posts and more to identify the most legendary TV, film and gaming icons to date.
Who steals the title of ‘greatest superhero’ is often up for debate – throw villains into the mix and you’ve got an even bigger dispute. And let’s not even get started on the Marvel vs. DC Comics rivalry. So, to settle the discussion once and for all, we investigated who the public’s true favourite is.
Firstly, to settle the Marvel vs. DC battle – or rather, not settle it at all – there’s no clear winner, with each landing five characters in the top 10 most searched-for superheroes and villains. And, on an individual basis, it turns out the world’s rooting for the bad guys, with Batman’s nemesis, the Joker coming first for the number of global online searches (10.2 million per month). He’s followed by the web-spinning Spider-Man (7.2 million) and ultra-strong Black Panther (4.4 million). It’s Batman himself who tops the charts for the number of social media posts hashtagged with his name though (28.2 million) , followed by Spider-Man (20.5 million) and Iron Man (13.7 million). Talking of social media, if search volumes equated to Instagram followers, the Joker could be raking in a whopping $102k (£74.k) per sponsored post. Now that could buy him a lot of custom-made suits.
The Gaming Greats
The quality of video game graphics has come on in leaps and bounds over the years. But do the life-like interpretations of gaming characters make them more popular or are the classic icons of yester-year the ones that hold a place in people’s hearts?
The answer appears to be the latter. The ever-so-speedy Sonic the Hedgehog raced to the top of the list with 6.7 million global searches per month. He’s chased (but certainly not caught) by the cheeky Pokemon Pikachu (3.7 million) and ever-hungry Pac-Man (3 million). Over on social media, it’s Pikachu receiving the most love with 7.4 million posts hashtagged with his name. He’s joined in the top three by moustached Italian Mario (5.6 million), and Sonic (3.3 million). If Sonic decided to start up a career as an influencer, he could pocket $67k (£48.9k) per sponsored post. Perhaps it’s time to hang up his running shoes?
The Christmas icons
For some, the festive period hasn’t really started until they’ve watched a Christmas movie. So, it’s up to the characters from the top festive flicks to bring the Christmas cheer, right? Of course, there’s a jolly old man who naturally takes centre stage, but who else is topping the list of favourite Christmas characters?
Although he famously hates Christmas, the Grinch has grumbled his way into first position for the most monthly global searches (668.8k). He’s accompanied in the top trio by mischievous Gizmo from Gremlins (527.4k) – another somewhat controversial entrant on the list – and Krampus (446k), a horned demonic beast who scares children at Christmas. This isn’t exactly the uplifting selection we were expecting. On the social media front, Jack Skellington of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1.4 million) ranks highest for hashtagged posts, joined by Gizmo (1 million) and the Grinch (718k).
The Sitcom Superstars
Sitcom characters are created to become household names, with the success of comedy programmes pretty much hinging on the public falling for the cast. But with so many amazing characters to choose from, which ones win the popularity contest?
The childishly eccentric Mr Bean tops the list for receiving the most searches (1.1 million per month), but it’s otherwise a landslide victory for ‘Friends’ within the sitcom genre. Friends’ loveable palaeontologist, Ross Geller (589.3k) and romantic interest, Rachel Green (509.4k) take second and third place for monthly global searches. The Friends gang also dominate social media, with Rachel Green (1 million), Monica Geller (969k) and Joey Tribbiani (957k) making the top three for posts hashtagged with their names. The theme tune may have promised they’d always be there for you, but the public have certainly stood by them.
The Horror Heavyweights
Some of the most famous horror characters are harrowing enough to haunt your nightmares for many years. And, though this doesn’t make them memorable in the most positive sense, it certainly makes them iconic. So, which is the most notorious horror character of all time?
In terms of monthly search volumes, Pennywise, the shapeshifting clown from ‘IT’ comes in first in the list (1.5 million). He’s trailed by killer doll Chucky (1.4 million) and ‘Saw’ antagonist, Jigsaw (967k). On social media, Pennywise tops the ranks again with the most posts hashtagged with his name (2 million), followed by the blood-sucking Dracula (1.5 million) and the ‘Halloween’ series’ masked slasher, Michael Myers (1.2 million). Heaven forbid Pennywise started producing Instagram content; the evil clown could be looking at earning $15k (£10.9k) per post, and we don’t want to know what he’d do with that amount of money.