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Revealed: What we Googled most in 2023

Late actor Matthew Perry, the hunt for the missing Titanic submersible, and summer blockbuster Barbie were among 2023’s most searched for topics, Google has revealed.

The Friends star’s death in October, aged 54, was looked up more than any other celebrity who died this year.

June’s hunt for the Titan sub, which sparked a five-day scramble after it disappeared on its journey to the famous ship’s wreckage, was only beaten by the Israel-Hamas war as the top news item.

Barbie being the most searched for film should come as no surprise, given it’s 2023’s box office number one.

Here are a few of the most eye-catching top 10s.

News:

Turkey’s devastating earthquake in February and a trio of hurricanes were among other notable world events that had us searching this year; along with two mass shootings, India’s historic moon landing, and the dramatic outbreak of conflict in Sudan. Notably, there’s no sign of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

1. Israel attacks/Gaza war
2. Titanic submarine
3. Turkey earthquake
4. Hurricane Hilary
5. Hurricane Idalia
6. Hurricane Lee
7. Maine shooting
8. Nashville shooting
9. Chandrayaan-3
10. War in Sudan

Smoke and debris rises over Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as seen from southern Israel, December 11, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Image:
Smoke and debris rise over Gaza, amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas

People:

NFL star Damar Hamlin was the world’s most searched for person following his collapse during a game in February, having suffered cardiac arrest. We also wanted to know about the wellbeing of actor Jeremy Renner after he was injured in a snowplough accident.

1. Damar Hamlin
2. Jeremy Renner
3. Andrew Tate
4. Kylian Mbappe
5. Travis Kelce
6. Jenna Ortega
7. Lil Tay
8. Danny Masterson
9. David Beckham
10. Pedro Pascal

The UK version of this list came out looking quite different, with only Renner, Tate, and Beckham making the cut. It instead saw Huw Edwards and Phillip Schofield as the top two – both broadcasters were taken off-air following revelations about their private lives.

Damar Hamlin
Image:
Damar Hamlin topped the global list…

Deaths:

Beyond the entertainment world, there was huge interest in the disappearance of mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, who vanished after dropping off her children at school in Lancashire in January. She was later found dead, prompting criticism of the police.

1. Matthew Perry
2. Tina Turner
3. Sinead O’Connor
4. Ken Block
5. Jerry Springer
6. Angus Cloud
7. Nicola Bulley
8. Jane Birkin
9. Jimmy Buffett
10. Lance Reddick

The UK’s list featured a few unique entries, notably chat show host Paul O’Grady, football legend Bobby Charlton, and Harry Potter actor Michael Gambon.

Sir Bobby Charlton
Image:
Sir Bobby Charlton, the England football legend, and (below) Michael Gambon in Harry Potter

Michael Gambon in Harry Potter

Actors:

Three of the top five were more famous for off-screen incidents this year, with Renner joined by convicted rapist Danny Masterson and Japanese actor Ichikawa Ennosuke, who was given a suspended prison sentence for apparently assisting his parents’ suicide.

1. Jeremy Renner
2. Jenna Ortega
3. Ichikawa Ennosuke
4. Danny Masterson
5. Pedro Pascal
6. Jamie Foxx
7. Brendan Fraser
8. Russell Brand
9. Kiara Advani
10. Matt Rife

Actor Jeremy Renner arrives for the premiere of the television series Hawkeye at El Capitan theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November, 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Image:
Jeremy Renner

Films:

The year’s most unlikely double act – Barbie and Oppenheimer – are top of 2023’s worldwide box office and Google search trends, beating Hindi action epic Jawan and Sound Of Freedom, an unexpected hit about child trafficking which some critics accused of stoking QAnon conspiracy theories.

1. Barbie
2. Oppenheimer
3. Jawan
4. Sound Of Freedom
5. John Wick: Chapter 4
6. Avatar: The Way Of Water
7. Everything Everywhere All At Once
8. Gadar 2
9. Creed III
10. Pathaan

Britons proved themselves to still be fans of the once all-conquering Marvel universe, as Guardians Of The Galaxy came third here thanks to the latest film. We were also more interested in The Menu and Killers Of The Flower Moon, likely because we were looking up quite how long it is (a cool three hours and 26 minutes).

Ryan Gosling as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in Greta Gerwig's new Barbie film. Pic: Warner Bros
'Kl-lee-uhn' Murphy as Oppenheimer. Pic: AP
Image:
Like two peas in a pod…

Musicians:

Shakira’s tax affairs that had people talking this year, as the Colombian pop star reached a deal with Spanish authorities to avoid a €14.5m fraud trial. Joe Jonas’ divorce from Game Of Thrones star Sophie Turner saw him shoot up the rankings, while Smash Mouth were hit by the death of frontman Steve Harwell.

1. Shakira
2. Jason Aldean
3. Joe Jonas
4. Smash Mouth
5. Peppino di Capri
6. Gino Paoli
7. Tom Kaulitz
8. Kellie Pickler
9. Jose Luis Perales
10. Anna Oxa

Sam Smith topped the UK list, perhaps driven by them cancelling a raft of shows earlier this year. And conspicuous by her absence from the global chart, Taylor Swift sneaked in at 10.

Pic: AP
Image:
World number one Shakira… Pic: AP

Sam Smith attending the Fashion Awards 2023 presented by Pandora held at the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London. Picture date: Monday December 4, 2023. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire
Image:
…and UK number one Sam Smith

TV shows:

This list rubbed off on the previous actors list, too. The Last Of Us, HBO’s adaptation of the PlayStation game, starred Google’s fifth-most popular actor Pedro Pascal, while Jenna Ortega was the lead in Netflix’s Wednesday.

1. The Last Of Us
2. Wednesday
3. Ginny & Georgia
4. One Piece
5. Kaleidoscope
6. King The Land
7. The Glory
8. That ’90s Show
9. The Fall Of The House Of Usher
10. Shadow And Bone

The Last Of Us had to settle for second in the UK, where it was shown on Sky. It was beaten by Happy Valley, with Luther’s and Black Mirror’s returns also securing spots on the top 10.

Pic: HBO/Sky Atlantic
Image:
The Last Of Us made the TV and (below) gaming lists. Pic: HBO/Sky Atlantic

Games:

More success for The Last Of Us here, despite not actually having a new game released in 2023. It came second to Harry Potter title Hogwarts Legacy, which was a huge sales hit but also generated headlines due to JK Rowling’s controversial comments about transgender issues.

1. Hogwarts Legacy
2. The Last Of Us
3. Connections
4. Battlegrounds Mobile India
5. Starfield
6. Baldur’s Gate 3
7. Suika
8. Diablo IV
9. Atomic Heart
10. Sons Of The Forest

You can find more lists, including a country-by-country breakdown, on Google’s Year In Search website.

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