Revealed: The public’s all-time favourite on-screen characters of film, TV and gaming

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gaming

If search volume equated to Instagram followers, the Joker could charge $102k (£74.5k) for a sponsored post 
Rachel Green has the most Instagram posts hashtagged with her name of all sitcom characters (1 million) 
Pennywise, Chucky and Jigsaw are the most searched-for horror characters 
Games featuring Pikachu rake in highest revenue ($90 billion/£65.9 billion) of all the top gaming characters 

There are hundreds of iconic characters from film, TV and gaming who will forever be household names. But which characters are the public’s all-time favourites? New research by Currys looked at online search volumes and social media posts that talked about some of the most famous personalities from various media genres. Below you can find out who topped each list as the most legendary icons of their genre.

The most iconic gaming characters

If search volume equated to Instagram followers, Sonic could charge $67k (£48.9k) for a sponsored post 
Pikachu has the most Instagram posts hashtagged with his name of all gaming characters (7.4 million) 
Mario has appeared in the most games of all characters (259) 
Total revenue for the Pokemon game series ($90 billion/£65.9 billion) is higher than any other game, with second-placed Mario Bros lagging far behind ($30.3 billion/£22.2 billion) 

The world of gaming has transformed over the decades, but is it the high-definition characters of today that are the fan favourites, or the iconic cartoons of decades gone by? The answer appears to be the latter. The ever-so-speedy Sonic the Hedgehog raced to the top of the search volume ranks, followed by Pikachu and Pac-Man. It’s a similar story on Instagram, with Pikachu, Mario and Sonic receiving the most posts.

Rank
Character
Global Monthly Search volume
No. of Insta posts with name hashtagged

1
Sonic
6,700,000
3,273,487

2
Pikachu
3,700,000
7,430,874

3
Pac-man
3,000,000
1,642,920

4
Mario
2,100,000
5,559,810

5
Big Boss
712,500
2,800,000

6
Luigi
641,200
1,300,000

7
Lara Croft
607,700
735,000

8
Kratos
571,900
654,000

9
Yoshi
556,700
1,800,000

10
Diablo
490,900
1,100,000

The most terrifying horror characters

If search volume equated to Instagram followers, Pennywise could charge $15k (£10.9k) for a sponsored post 
Pennywise has the most Instagram posts hashtagged with his name of all horror characters (2 million) 
Hannibal Lecter has the highest average IMDb rating (rated 7.2) 

Although many of us would probably rather forget some of the most memorable horror characters, the fact that we can’t makes them all the more iconic. Taking first place for search volume and number of Instagram posts is killer clown Pennywise, who has really had a lasting impact on audiences. He’s followed by evil doll Chucky and Saw’s murderous mastermind Jigsaw in terms of search volume, and Dracula and Halloween’s Michael Myers in number of Instagram posts.

Rank
Character
Global monthly search volume
No. of Insta posts with name hashtagged

1
Pennywise AKA IT
1,500,000
2,000,000

2
Chucky
1,400,000
1,100,000

3
Jigsaw
967,000
844,000

4
Freddy Krueger
943,000
991,000

5
Michael Myers
798,000
1,200,000

6
Frankenstein’s Monster
673,900
124,000

7
Hannibal Lecter
635,000
332,000

8
Dracula
632,000
1,500,000

9
Slenderman
579,500
517,000

10
Eli
324,100
1,000,000

The Best-loved sitcom characters

If search volume equated to Instagram followers, Mr Bean could charge $11k (£8k) for a sponsored post 
Rachel Green has the most Instagram posts hashtagged with her name of all sitcom characters (1 million) 
Rachel, Monica, Ross and Phoebe from Friends have the joint highest average IMDb rating (rated 8.9)

There have been plenty of memorable sitcoms over the decades, each attracting die-hard fan bases. So, it’s interesting to see that the data reveals a landslide victory for Friends, with the cast beaten only by Mr Bean in search volume. Not only does this suggest that Friends could be the most iconic sitcom of all time, but it also answers the question many Friends fans have been dying to know – who is the most popular ‘Friend’? It turns out the on-screen couple, Ross and Rachel both take the crowns.

Rank
Character
Global monthly search volume
No. of Insta posts with name hashtagged

1
Mr Bean
1,100,000
568,000

2
Ross Geller
589,300
932,000

3
Rachel Green
509,400
1,000,000

4
Monica Geller
491,700
969,000

5
Joey Tribbiani
470,000
957,000

6
Will Smith
364,000
247,000

7
Phoebe Buffay
338,000
812,000

8
Bart Simpson
303,000
590,000

9
Jerry Seinfeld
273,000
125,000

10
Homer Simpson
266,000
688,000

The most legendary superheroes and villains

The Joker, Spider-Man and Black Panther are the most searched-for superheroes and villains in the world 
Batman has the most Instagram posts hashtagged with his name of all superheroes and villains (28.2 million) 
Black Panther has the highest average IMDb rating for all films he has featured in (rated 8.1) 

Who steals the title as the greatest superhero is a popular topic of debate. As is the Marvel vs. DC Comics rivalry. To settle these disputes once and for all, the data reveals that Batman, and his nemesis the Joker, take the victory as the most-searched-for and posted about characters. But if we’re basing the win on a majority vote, Marvel and DC Comics are neck and neck, with five characters each ranking in the top 10 – leaving the competition very much open between the two market leaders.

Rank
Character
Global monthly search volume
No. of Insta posts with name hashtagged

1
Joker
10,200,000
13,700,000

2
Spider-Man
7,200,000
20,500,000

3
Black Panther
4,400,000
6,000,000

4
Wonder Woman
3,800,000
9,300,000

5
Iron Man
3,400,000
16,600,000

6
Batman
3,200,000
28,200,000

7
Harley Quinn
3,200,000
6,600,000

8
Thor
2,800,000
10,900,000

9
Deadpool
2,700,000
6,100,000

10
Aquaman
2,600,000
2,500,000

Methodology

The top characters were identified using Google searches for the “top sitcom characters”, etc. From this, a list of approximately 100 characters was curated for each category, which was narrowed down to 15 based on the highest search volumes (found using SEMRush). Instagram hashtag counts are based on the number of posts hashtagged with the characters’ names, e.g. #Sonic, etc. Potential Instagram earnings were calculated by using the search volume for each character as a hypothetical ‘follower count’. With these figures, we calculated an earning per post based on an unspoken industry standard rate of $100 per 10,000 followers. IMDb ratings were calculated by averaging the IMDb rating of all TV shows or films the character has featured in. For gaming, we identified the total number of games the characters have featured in.