Halloween is no longer a holiday for tired old witches and toothless vampires. Now, pop culture commands our costume choices and major moments throughout the year serve as inspiration. Whether it’s a viral video, the highest grossing film of the year or a pop princess, what makes the headlines usually makes it onto the high street on Halloween.
But tapping into the zeitgeist means keeping your finger on the pulse of pop culture for an entire year. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a big Halloween theme because you haven’t watched all of Game of Thrones, would you?
Luckily, our number nerds are on the case. They’ve taken this year’s top pop culture picks and tested them against the nation’s Google search preferences over the last 12 months to find out what we’ll be wearing this October 31st. So if you need a little inspiration or just want to check you’re on trend, take a look at our top 10 pop culture searches for Halloween costumes this year.
1. The Joker and Harley Quinni
Taking the top spot, and set to dominate the streets this Halloween, is a classic cast of supervillains. The nation’s top costume choices this year are The Joker and new favourite, Harley Quinn. The dastardly pair even managed to push Batman himself way down the list of DC characters appearing in 2016.
2. Alice in Wonderlandii
Missing the top spot by a country mile but still curiously popular, Alice, of Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass fame, is the second most popular Halloween costume from pop culture.
With its wealth of fantastical characters and ever-present sense of unease, it’s no wonder Alice and all those she encounters are Halloween costume favourites, and there’s no doubt they’ve been given a helping hand with the release of Through the Looking Glass earlier this year.
3. Game of Thronesiii
After another season of gruelling deaths and Machiavellian scheming, fans searched for Game of Thrones Halloween costumes 520 times in the last year. Add the nation’s searches for separate characters, however, and this bumps Game of Thrones up to the number 3 spot.
Daenerys Targaryen costumes were most popular, while Jon Snow achieved an impressive second place. Despite such a huge cast most characters appear in the data, even some of the dead ones, such as Joffrey and the unlamented Ramsay Bolton.
Stars of the Despicable Me trilogy - Despicable Me 3 is set to hit screens next summer – and the spin-off Minions last year, these yellow, pill-shaped, bumbling servants of evil are set to be another favourite among the Disney-inspired Halloween crowd this year.
5. Star Warsv
Whether it was the sublime Episode Seven or the ridiculous Laughing Chewbacca Mask Lady video that inspired fans, this Halloween is not going to be short of Star Wars supporters.
While collectively Star Wars costumes weren’t as popular as Game of Thrones, a smaller, central cast meant that individual characters fared better. Aside from Daenerys and Jon, most Star Wars characters received more searches than the line-up in Game of Thrones.
Darth Vader remains most popular, although newcomer Kylo Ren was second, followed by Chewbacca. Leia, Rey, Han Solo and Boba Fett remain well-liked while the leading men, Luke Skywalker and Finn, brought up the rear.
6. Kim Kardashianvi
Many may question her enduring popularity but Kim Kardashian certainly has costume appeal. And the search volumes don’t lie - second to the inimitable Star Wars legacy is no mean feat for the reality TV star and, in sixth position, it’s possible we may see more Kim this autumn evening than we’ve ever seen before.
While the revelation in virtual reality gaming that was Pokémon Go has already begun its declineviii, its impact on pop culture – for better or worse - makes it a Halloween costume favourite for 2016.
Pikachu was individually most popular followed by Ash and Pokémon Trainer. Most other Pokémon, including Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Jigglypuff and Dragonite get a look-in somewhere in the data. Expect a host of Pocket Monsters on your doorstep this Halloween.
The revival of Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent and the portrayal of her fall from grace may have appeared in cinemas two years ago now, but the film’s popularity – it grossed $758 million globallyx - means the magnificent Maleficent still casts her spell over Halloween revellers.
9. Harry Potterxi
If the eight-part legacy of Harry Potter wasn’t enough to put ‘Harry’ costumes in the top ten, then the release of the series’ sequel play and script, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, just sealed the deal. Selling more than 4 million copies in the UK, US and Canada in the first week it was releasedxii, it’s unsurprising that a plethora of Potters are due to take to the streets this October.
10. The Walking Deadxiii
Airing just in time for Halloween, season 7 of The Walking Dead will hit UK screens on Monday 24 October. Unlike many pop culture contributions this Halloween, Walking Dead fans might actually muster a genuine shriek of fear from the public, as armies of the undead and wounded survivors take to the streets.
Costumes that didn’t quite make the list
Despite the series finale airing around 3 years ago, Breaking Badxiv remains popular although it just misses the top 10 this year.
The Ghostbustersxv revival, with its all-female line-up, also dropped just shy of the search volumes required to make the top 10. But you can be sure the ghost removal squad will still make an appearance this October.
Wild card prediction
Search volumes are only part of the prediction and we’ve decided to put our own wild card entry into the mix for the title of most popular pop culture Halloween costume this year.
Netflix original drama, Stranger Things, saw immense popularity this summer, with its mix of Sci-Fi, nostalgia, and other-worldly demons that we think are perfect for resurrection this Halloween.
But one thing’s for sure, whether it’s Pokémon, Potter or Stranger Things that you prefer, our search data says pop culture costumes will be a major fixture among the line-up this Halloween.