Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out! Depending on with whom you talk, the movie is either a masterpiece or a smoldering pile of bantha poodoo. I’m content enjoying it for the movie it is, and I’ll let other people realize the futility of constantly trying to chase down and re-live the ethereal emotional moments of their childhood like they’re some sort of drug. Whether you liked Last Jedi or not, though, one thing’s for certain: Star Wars is popular.
Looking for a way to avoid the fan civil war going on in message boards right now, I went on a search of something more tangible, something like data. That turned into the search for the series’ most popular characters, something that should unite fans of all stripes. To do so, I consulted Google Trends and paired off 32 of the movies’ characters into a competitive bracket, with four characters in each bracket, a tournament if you will. Follow along as I present the numbers behind the MOST POPULAR STAR WARS CHARACTER.
(Disclaimer: I’m using a simple data set to compare characters — Google search numbers – and I’m only looking at the past five years. While some characters from the new movies weren’t out five years ago, I’ve weighted the search results to determine the trend of their popularity and made some arbitrary decisions along the way. Also, you’ll notice a “Note” on each graph. That marks an adjustment that Google made to their criteria on January 1st, 2016 and coincides with a spike in results as data is “caught up” with the results that follow that date.)
The Creep Division
In this bracket, we’ve got Orson Krennic, the Imperial officer in charge of the Death Star project in Star Wars: Rogue One. He’s joined by stalker-y Kylo Ren and Kylo’s master, Snoke. To close the bracket all, they get the withered Grand Moff Tarkin. Here’s a chart showing their Google popularity over the last five years:
As is pretty evident, Kylo Ren takes the prize here, despite a late up-tick for Snoke and some renewed interest in Tarkin around the time Rogue One came out. Orson Krennic, on the other hand, barely registers a blip. Moving on …
The New Wave Division
This bracket consists of heroes we’re only now getting to meet: Rey, Finn, and Poe. They’re joined in the pod by the heroine of Rogue One, Jyn Erso. Jyn’s at a disadvantage, having not even survived a single Star Wars movie.
Nobody stood a chance here. Rey destroyed the competition, getting only a bit of a fight from her competition during the run of The Force Awakens. Even a year later, Jyn Erso was unable to beat out Rey’s popularity during a time when Rey wasn’t even in a movie!
The Droids We’re Looking For Division
Everyone loves BB-8, but how does his popularity surge in recent years compared to that of C-3PO or, more competitively, R2-D2? And did K-2SO make enough of a run last year to take this division?
Despite BB-8’s sudden surge in popularity, this one’s a lot closer if you look at the average interest over time on the left side of this chart. As expected, K-2SO didn’t put up much of a fight. Despite BB-8 having the lower all-time average, I’m going to give little roundy the win here over R2-D2 based primarily on the fact that, leading up to The Last Jedi, BB-8 got more of a bump than Artoo. Don’t like it? Make your own blog post!
The Jedi Master Division
Now we’re getting out of the heavy emphasis on recent movies with this division. It pits division favorite Yoda against number two seed Obi-Wan Kenobi and their Jedi Master comrades, Mace Windu and Qui-Gon Jinn. Each of these characters has at least some sort of fan base, so will it make the match closer than the previous three? Let’s see:
This was definitely the closest battle yet. Yoda is the clear winner here, but Obi-Wan puts up a consistently good fight. I am particularly surprised that Qui-Gon has as much interest as Mace Windu, based solely on Mace Windu’s Samuel L. Jackson-like appearance and purple lightsaber. At this point, I’d have to say that Yoda, coming out of a division as tough as this, is the early front-runner for most popular character.
The My Kind Of Scum Division
This hive of scum and villainy is headlined by uber-gangster Jabba the Hutt and bounty hunter supreme Boba Fett. Also in the running here is our buddy Lando Calrissian and, with a very outside shot, Boba’s daddy, Jango Fett. Let’s see how they square off!
And our first upset arrives! Boba Fett defeated Jabba this round based on a much higher spike in 2015. Many would say that Boba should’ve been my first seed in this bracket and I can’t argue that, even though I went with Jabba. I was surprised to see the few times when Lando and Jango both put up a good fight. It seems both have pretty good fan support even if they would never be considered the most popular.
The Old Wave Division
In what could be the most controversial bracket, top seed Han Solo takes on second seed Jar Jar Binks. Yes, Jar Jar is a high seed here because, at least for this data set, Jar Jar’s infamy could be considered a type of popularity. The two of them are joined by Chewbacca and pilot extraordinaire, Wedge Antilles. Can Jar Jar’s luck bring him a division crown?
This division indeed turned out to be a close battle, but not in the way I thought! Jar Jar did have some good numbers, but the battle here clearly is between Han Solo, who has the higher spike, against Chewbacca who benefits from still being alive in the series. After consulting with my war council, I’m ready to announce that the winner here is CHEWBACCA! Though Han Solo had the highest spike, Chewbacca still fared pretty well in that time period. When Chewbacca suddenly spiked in 2016, Han Solo did not, and so I pick that as the place where Chewie upended his partner and took the lead. Big upset!
The Sith Division
This is the division that I’ve been waiting the longest for. We’ve got the character that I presume will win, top seed Darth Vader, against red-hot fan favorite Darth Maul. They are of course joined by Emperor Palpatine and the much less loved Count Dooku. Let’s see how this one shakes out!
This one went pretty much as I expected, although I thought Darth Maul would at least clear his rivals pretty well. Given the results, Darth Vader definitely looks like he’ll be moving through his competition in the next round toward what could be a route in the finals!
The Skywalker Division
Our last division pits Luke Skywalker against his sister, Princess Leia. Also matching up against them is clan daddy, Anakin Skywalker, and his secret wife, Queen Amidala. Important to note here is that Anakin gets none of the Darth Vader votes, as Google counts those search terms separately. If Anakin is going to come out on top, he’ll need to rest upon his fame – or infamy, rather – from the three prequels (and, yes, a short ghost cameo at the end of Return of the Jedi).
A great match for the head of the Skywalker clan ensued and we’re going to give this one — in a close match — to Luke over Leia. Leia’s spike was huge indeed, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that it was influenced by the death of Carrie Fisher. Had Leia continued to dominate Luke after that, she would have won this bracket, but it’s apparent at the tail end of the search timeline that Luke has already begun to climb up and over his sister once again.
Now that we’ve gone through each of the eight divisions, we’ve got our semifinals ready to go. We’ll pit four winners against each other in two separate semifinal matches and the winners from that will compete head-to-head in one final Google trends super-fight!
Semifinals & Most Popular Character!
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