The most searched for pop culture characters of 2021

·Senior Editor
·4 min read

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These were the characters people were looking for online in 2021 (Sony Pictures/BBC/Universal)
These were the characters people were looking for online in 2021 (Sony Pictures/BBC/Universal)

Pop culture returned in a big way in 2021. Cinemas were filled with new movies, libraries stocked with new books, and TVs crammed with new series of your favourite shows.

In our era of pop culture franchises, they were inevitably often populated by familiar faces but not all fictional characters are created equally.

Creating a character with true impact is rare, which is why this list gives such a good insight into what kinds of things people want and expect from their fictional creations. It seems the answer is anthropomorphised creatures and people with amazing powers.

Read more: The most searched for movies of the year

These were the pop culture characters Yahoo users were searching for the most in 2021.

10: Loki

A still from Marvel Studios' Loki (Disney+)
A still from Marvel Studios' Loki (Disney+)

Tom Hiddleston's Loki has always been a popular character in the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the self-styled God of Mischief enjoyed a surge of interest in 2021 thanks to the launch of his hugely popular Disney+ show.

9: Tom and Jerry

Tim Story says the New York City chase in 'Tom & Jerry' was only limited by his team's creativity. (Credit: Warner Bros)
Tim Story says the New York City chase in 'Tom & Jerry' was only limited by his team's creativity. (Credit: Warner Bros)

Age is just a number for the perennially popular cartoon double act Tom & Jerry. Created in 1940, the cat and mouse act are in their ninth decade of entertaining kids, but they received a boost this year with the release of their first live action film.

8: Spider-Man

Detail from the new Spider-Man: No Way Home poster (Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios)
Detail from the new Spider-Man: No Way Home poster (Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios)

With Spider-Man: No Way Home breaking box office records with the second-biggest global box office debut ever, Marvel's webslinger has never been more popular, and that's reflected in the searches on Yahoo.

7: Ted Lasso

A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)
A still from Ted Lasso S2 (Apple TV+)

A surprise new entry here for Apple TV's fish-out-of-water American soccer coach, who returned in 2021 for the second season of his self-titled comedy. 

Read more: The most searched TV shows of the year

Portrayed by Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso has transcended his roots as a commercial skit into a bona fide sitcom icon.

6: Black Widow

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as Black Widow in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW. Photo by Jay Maidment. ©Marvel Studios 2020.
Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as Black Widow in Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW. (Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios)

Scarlett Johansson's Marvel character was finally afforded her own solo movie in 2021, and while it might be the last time we see Natasha Romanoff as Black Widow in the MCU, it opened the door to her replacement in the shape of Florence Pugh's Yelena.

5: Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot in 'Wonder Woman 1984'. (Credit: Clay Enos/Warner Bros)
Gal Gadot in 'Wonder Woman 1984'. (Credit: Clay Enos/Warner Bros)

Wonder Woman continues to outpace her DC cohorts Superman and Batman when it comes to search on Yahoo, which is perhaps a reflection of actor Gal Gadot whose grip on the role seems assured for now.

4: James Bond

James Bond (Daniel Craig) in No Time To Die (EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios/Nicola Dove)
James Bond (Daniel Craig) in No Time To Die (EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios/Nicola Dove)

Casino Royale — the book that introduced the world to Ian Fleming's James Bond 007 — turned 68 in 2021, but it was the enduring appeal of the 007 films that drove search for him in 2021. No Time To Die, the 25th Bond film, hit cinemas and became the biggest film of the covid-era.

3: Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Credit: Warner Bros)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Credit: Warner Bros)

There have been no new Harry Potter novels since 2007 and no new films starring Harry Potter since 2011, but The Boy Who Lived's appeal endures. Thanks to the timeless appeal of the books, and the continuing merchandising efforts, he gathers new fans with every new generation.

2: Peppa Pig

The child voice over artist for Peppa Pig earns more than you think. (BBC)
The child voice over artist for Peppa Pig earns more than you think. (BBC)

After dominating the 2020 version of this list, Peppa Pig has finally been dethroned as the easing of lockdowns led to parents relying less heavily on the animated character to entertain their kids.

1: Doctor Who

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 26/10/2021 - Programme Name: Doctor Who S13 - TX: n/a - Episode: Doctor Who - Ep 1 (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: *NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01HRS, TUESDAY 26TH OCTOBER, 2021* The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: James Pardon
Jodie Whittaker is the incumbent Doctor (BBC Studios/James Pardon)

Doctor Who has knocked Peppa Pig off the top of the most-searched characters list for the first time in 2021. Jodie Whittaker's incarnation returned for a third season in 2021, which was revealed to be her last full series in the role. She'll bow out of the show in 2022 (along with showrunner Chris Chibnall) with three specials ahead of the show's 60th anniversary year.

Before then, we have a New Year special Revolution of the Daleks to look forward to on 1 January, 2022.

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