The 50 Biggest Highlights of the 2010s

The 2010s brought us Hamilton, streaming services, and so much Beyoncé.

Beyonce close up at Lion King Premiere in 2019
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It doesn't seem like that long ago that we were closing out the aughts and welcoming in the 2010s. But in the blink of an eye, here we are, about to enter the 2020s. Of course, there were many challenging and controversial moments in the past decade, both on global and personal scales, but there's nothing like the end of one chapter and the start of another to look back on all the reasons we have to be thankful. From innovative technology that's changed our lives, to vaccines that've made the world a healthier place, to pop culture revolutionaries like Beyoncé and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, to long-time sports curses that were broken—the 2010s have seen a lot of highlights. Let's take a look back at the 50 things from the last decade that we're thankful for.

1
New Star Wars Movies

rogue one star wars
Lucasfilm/IMDB

Fans of Star Wars have been burned before—just mention the name "Jar Jar Binks" around any fan of the original trilogy. But when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and subsequently announced the franchise would be returning in 2015 with some of the original characters and actors, there was reason for a new hope, if you will. True to their word, Disney released the J.J. Abrams-directed The Force Awakens in 2015—and most fans were delighted to see the world they loved brought back to the big screen. Since then, the Star Wars universe has expanded to supplementary films like Rogue One and Solo, with more on the way.

2
Hamilton

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Shutterstock

It's truly the unlikeliest of pairings: Broadway, hip-hop, and the guy on the $10 bill. However, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda managed to not just make it work, but to make it a massive success. Starting with an 818-page biography of the Founding Father, Miranda turned the life and struggles of Alexander Hamilton into a musical in 2015, and it went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2016. Even more impressive, thanks to Miranda, kids who previously had trouble finishing their American history homework can now rap eloquently about the origins of the U.S. federal government.

3
Smartphones

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iStock

Whether you're an Apple or Android person, smartphones have undeniably changed not only the way we communicate, but also the way we find and process information. Yes, many lament our struggles to put down the phone, but in so many ways, these devices have made our lives easier. When was the last time you got truly lost in a new city? How long did it take you to settle that bar bet over Dolly Parton's character's name in 9 to 5? How far away is the most remote friend you've texted today? While smartphones can be a mixed blessing, they've still given us a lot to be thankful for.

4
Angry Birds

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iStock

Speaking of smartphones, these handheld devices have also revolutionized video gaming. In 2009, the Finnish company Rovio Entertainment introduced us to a group of irate avians who would stop at nothing to retrieve their eggs from the green pigs who had stolen them. Yes, we're talking about Angry Birds. To date, there have been 25 games and spin-offs in the series, 2 movies, a U.S. and international theme parks, dozens of toys, and a cookbook. Even if you think they've gone overboard, you probably owe Angry Birds a debt of gratitude for allowing you to kill time in a waiting room or two over the past ten years.

5
Beyoncé

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Yes, she's been around since the '90s, but we must always remember to be grateful for Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. She welcomed in the 2010s with "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and proceeded to drop four more albums within the decade. In that time, she's gone on four world tours (two with her husband, Jay-Z) and won thirteen Grammy awards (for a grand total of twenty-three). In 2016, she pushed boundaries with her Super Bowl halftime performance of "Formation" and the subsequent release of the concept album Lemonade. It remains to be seen what Queen Bey will do in the coming decade, but whatever it is, we're grateful to be able to listen and watch.

6
Streaming Services

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Shutterstock

Ten years ago, the phrase "streaming" probably made you think of water. Now, it refers to services that put massive libraries of TV shows, movies, and other video content right at our fingertips. Netflix debuted their video-on-demand service in 2007, but it wasn't until 2013 that they started releasing their own original content, and Hulu and Amazon weren't far behind. Physical forms of media like video tapes and DVDs have fallen by the wayside now that you can find pretty much anything you want to watch with the click of a button. All of us who've ever had a video tape unravel or DVD scratch couldn't be more grateful.

7
The Cubs' World Series Win

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Sporting events are polarizing—as they say in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," if your team doesn't win, it's a shame. But even people outside Chicago found reason to celebrate when the Cubs baseball team broke their 108-year losing streak and finally won the World Series in 2016. Of course, that meant the Cleveland Indians had to go home with its 68-year championship drought intact. Nonetheless, five million fans attended the Cubs' victory parade, grateful to no longer be the butt of many a sports joke.

8
Downton Abbey

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Focus Features/IMDB

The past few years have seen TV overtake movies as real prestige entertainment. Increased budgets and production standards have drawn the best writers and actors from the silver screen to the small screen, and as viewers, we're the ones who have benefitted. Take the British drama Downton Abbey, for example. It became an unusual favorite after its U.S. debut in 2011, captivating audiences not with action sequences or special effects, but with the human drama of an aristocratic family in the 1910s and '20s. And if you had to pick just one element of the show to be thankful for, we can only assume you'd go with Dame Maggie Smith's bone-dry one-liners as the Dowager Countess.

9
Marie Kondo

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It's the simplest of premises: Don't hang on to junk that doesn't make you happy. However, the woman who taught it has become an international sensation for her philosophy of living. Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo published The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in 2011, and her Shinto-based approach to cleaning, called the KonMari Method, asks the cleaner to treasure what they have and give away anything that doesn't "spark joy." Kondo's fresh perspective on cleaning and organizing has helped people around the world live in more mindful and less cluttered homes.

10
Marriage Equality

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Shutterstock

In much of the Western world, the 20th century marked the expanding of civil rights to various historically oppressed groups, including women and racial minorities. We still have quite a long ways to go when it comes to making true human equality a reality, but we took another step closer this past decade when it came to marriage. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marriage, following the precedent of many other English-speaking countries. Love is truly a cause to celebrate.

11
3D Printers

3D Printer Printing Prototypes
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This decade may not have brought the hoverboards that Back to the Future promised us, but we did take a huge step into the future in the 2010s with 3D printing technology. These printers typically create objects by adding layer on top of layer of material, usually some type of plastic, until the desired shape is achieved. Sure, they can create toys and tools, but these printers can also put out entirely customized medical implants or prostheses to replace bones and other body parts. One day, doctors may even be able to print out whole living organs!

12
The Cinematic Superhero Takeover

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Comic book nerds rejoice—it's been your decade! While there had been a smattering of superhero movies over the years, the genre really came into its own in the past decade. Marvel kicked off the trend, releasing not just individual movies for comic book favorites like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, but creating an interconnected cinematic universe with room for the likes of Black Panther with its all-black cast and the female-fronted Captain Marvel, as well. And the DC Universe had even greater success with the record-breaking smash Wonder Woman. Of course, some will argue that we've reached the point of too much of a good thing, but we've undoubtedly had some big wins from the superhero genre in the 2010s.

13
Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai
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Not all heroes wear capes. Exhibit A: Malala Yousafzai, an activist for female empowerment and education in Pakistan at an age when most of us couldn't think farther ahead than the next homework assignment. At 15, a member of the Taliban attempted to assassinate her for her work. She survived being shot in the head and evacuated to Britain for her own safety; her 2013 book, I Am Malala, became an international bestseller, and she became the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize the following year. Her bravery and refusal to back down in the face of persecution serves as an example to the millions of young people seeking to make positive change in the world.

14
The Cloud

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You may not understand it, but you almost certainly use it. Just like video content has switched from physical media to streaming services, so has data and processing power switched from personal devices to "the cloud." This term is just shorthand for the process of cloud computing, in which data storage and computing power are handled not by our individual devices but by distant servers. The technology has allowed our devices to hold more music and photos and stream videos faster. Plus, you no longer have to worry about your back-up files getting deleted or going missing—and that's a huge step in the right direction!

15
N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth Trilogy

Hugo Award-winning author, , reads and answers questions at the Seattle Public Library in Seattle, WA
Christy V. Henderson / Alamy Stock Photo

Great works of fantasy literature tend to be described as epics—think Lord of the Rings or the Earthsea series. This decade has seen an addition to the canon with author N.K. Jemisin's books The Fifth Season (2015), The Obelisk Gate (2016), and The Stone Sky (2017), collectively known as the Broken Earth trilogy. And the fact that Jemisin is an African-American woman—and the only author to win a Hugo Award for best novel three years in a row—just makes it all the more revolutionary.

16
Lady Gaga

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Shutterstock

It's hard to believe it's only been 10 years since the world was first introduced to Lady Gaga. Although she began performing in 2001, Gaga didn't become a household name until the release of her 2009 album The Fame Monster. Soon after, she was wearing a dress made of raw meat to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and 16-inch heels to meet President Obama. Although she's toned down her fashion in recent years, she continues to re-invent herself: In a matter of a decade, she's become an actress, an Academy Award winner, and an activist. If there's one thing Gaga is not, it's stagnant.

17
Serial 

Serial podcast logo
Courtesy of Serial

Before the last weeks of 2014, few people had heard the name Adnan Syed, and even fewer cared whether there was a pay phone outside of a Best Buy in Baltimore in 1999. Then Serial, a podcast hosted by journalist Sarah Koenig, introduced the country to the facts of Syed's case. Millions downloaded and listened along to find out whether Koenig could uncover evidence of Syed's innocence. The following two seasons never could quite replicate the buzz of the first in 2014, but the show did succeed at getting many listeners into the world of podcasts.

18
Fortnite

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Although it's barely been around for two years, the video game Fortnite has an enormous impact on more than just the gaming world. Even if you've never played, you've likely seen children or teenagers or some very flexible adults flossin', which the game popularized.  Love it or hate it, there's no denying Fortnite's staying power.

19
Game of Thrones

game of thrones
HBO

For the sake of argument, let's set aside those last two seasons and talk about the journey, not the destination. HBO's Game of Thrones introduced us to George R.R. Martin's fictional land of Westeros, home to dozens of feuding nobles, their terrible secrets, and precisely three dragons. Although nearly the entire run of the show, from 2011 to 2019, was marked with some controversy, we cared about the characters and rooted for our favorites to find some happiness in a world where no protagonist was safe from the axe. The fact that it had to end at all was a large part of the problem.

20
LeBron James

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Anyone who has watched LeBron James play basketball can't deny that he's one of the best there's ever been. Millions waited to hear the results of his polarizing decision to leave his hometown team in Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat in 2010. He won two championships with the Heat, and then returned to the Cavaliers to win one more. But since 2018, James has been a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Although some basketball fans have trouble getting past James's extended time in the spotlight, he feels his own most important achievement is the school he opened for struggling elementary students last year. And we can all be thankful for that, right?

21
The Good Place

the good place
Fermulon/IMDB

NBC gave Michael Schur, showrunner of The Office and co-creator of Parks & Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, free rein to create a half-hour comedy of his choosing. What he came up with in 2016 is nothing like any other show on TV. The Good Place begins with four humans starting their afterlives in a sort of secular heaven that bears the show's title, but it's impossible to summarize more than that without spoiling anything. The show takes a deep dive into moral philosophy and features characters who actually change and grow as their stories progress, which is unusual for a comedy show. Now in its fourth and final season, it's one of the funniest things to hit TVs in the past decade.

22
"Uptown Funk"

uptown funk
Royal Studios via YouTube

"Uptown Funk," by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, has been nearly inescapable since it debuted in 2014. The song spent 14 weeks atop Billboard's Hot 100 list in 2015, putting it behind only Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men's "One Sweet Day," Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito," and eventually Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus' "Old Town Road" for the longest-lasting No. 1 hit. But it's almost certainly "Uptown Funk," with its funk-pop rhythm, that will be played by wedding DJs from now until the end of Western civilization.

23
The Expanded Harry Potter Universe

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Shutterstock

When she released Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007, the last of the seven books in the series, J.K. Rowling swore she was done with the universe of Harry Potter and his friends. However, after writing a few adult mystery novels under a different pen name, Rowling returned to Hogwarts, writing short stories, the story for the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the screenplays for two Fantastic Beasts films, with the potential for more down the line. While fan reactions to some of this expanded material has been mixed, the fictional universe remains as popular and captivating as ever.

24
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the hate u give
Fox 2000 Pictures/IMDB

When the original Harry Potter series ended, many publishers rushed in to fill the void in young adult fiction, and as a result, the genre has given us some of the best new authors and titles of the last decade, like Angie Thomas's 2017 The Hate U Give. Although it's aimed at teenagers, the story deals with some of the heaviest topics in the news over the past decade, namely racism, police shootings, and trauma. It remained on The New York Times bestseller list for 80 weeks and was adapted into a movie in 2018, showing how strongly it resonates with a broad audience.

25
Vaccines for Zika and Ebola

Close-up medical syringe with a vaccine.
iStock

In 2015 and 2016, many parts of the world were hit hard by the Zika virus, a disease that is particularly dangerous to developing fetuses. The West African Ebola virus outbreak was more geographically contained, but the disease is so deadly that its mere presence terrified the world. Luckily, epidemiologists have been working ceaselessly to create vaccines to prevent the spread of these viruses. While none have yet been approved for clinical use because of the lengthy review process, compassionate use protocols have seen the rVSV-ZEBOV used against Ebola and several experimental vaccines used against Zika with promising results.

26
Mad Max: Fury Road

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Warner Bros./IMDB

George Miller's return to the Mad Max universe could have easily been drowned out by the glut of reboots, reimaginings, and sequels released in movie theaters in the 2010s. But anyone who saw it on the big screen in 2015 knows why it stands out. From the very look of the cinematography, you can't deny Fury Road's place in Miller's post-apocalyptic pantheon. Tom Hardy has such a powerful screen presence that he hardly needs to speak as the titular Max, and Charlize Theron's Furiosa is an unstoppable force leading what amounts to one long chase sequence through the desert. Between the aerial stunts, the lightning-fast editing, and that guy playing a flame-throwing electric guitar, watching Mad Max: Fury Road is a truly cinematic experience.

27
Pokémon Go

pokemon go
iStock

Millions of Pokémon fans' dreams came true in 2016 when game developer Niantic finally gave them the ability to catch the fantastic creatures in real life. OK, so you still can't actually find a real-life Snorlax, but Pokémon Go gives players the opportunity to go outside and "find" exclusive creatures all over the world. By using your phone's camera, you can spot the animated characters superimposed over your physical location and use in-game tools to catch them. Although the game featured some technical issues and led to unforeseen consequences—such as players getting injured by walking around without paying attention to where they were going—it offered an entirely new way to game and brought a whole community of Pokémon fans together.

28
Adele

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Shutterstock

How did we handle break-ups before Adele? She kicked off the decade with her hit album 21, which was her age at the time she recorded it (though it's hard to believe from the maturity of her voice and her lyrics). After taking some time off to rest her vocal cords and recover from throat surgery, she released 25 in 2015 and embarked on another world tour. People of every age relate to her songs about heartbreak, forgiveness, and nostalgia, though few can imitate her soaring vocals. She's thought to be releasing another album in December 2019, which will give us even more to be thankful for as we enter the 2020s.

29
Steven Universe

steven universe
Cartoon Network/IMDB

Creating an animated series that appeals to both children and adults is no easy feat. Creating one that does so and also maintains a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes is nearly impossible. However, Rebecca Sugar managed to do all this with Steven Universe, a coming-of-age series about a boy who lives with a group of aliens called the Crystal Gems that premiered in 2013. It manages to be funny without being cynical and uplifting without being saccharine. In addition to the show's compelling characters, it includes positive representations of LGBTQ characters, an aspect that made it the first animated series to win a GLAAD Media Award in 2019.

30
The McElroys

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Shutterstock

If you haven't heard of the McElroy Brothers—oldest brother Justin, middle brother Travis, and baby brother Griffin—and their dad, Clint, you're probably not a fan of podcasts. The brothers, originally from West Virginia, started out in 2010 making a silly advice podcast called My Brother, My Brother and Me as a way to stay in touch with each other. A 2014 special episode where they played Dungeons & Dragons with their dad ended up spinning off into a new show, The Adventure Zone, which quickly became a massive hit of its own. The McElroys' delightful banter, zany humor, and flair for storytelling make for a consistently amusing listening experience.

31
Alexander Ovechkin

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Shutterstock

If there's one name in hockey that every American knows, it's Wayne Gretsky. But they ought to get to know Alexander Ovechkin, too, because he may overtake Gretsky in total goals scored during the course of his career. Russian-born Ovechkin, often called "Ovi" or "Great Eight," was a first-round draft pick for the Washington Capitals in 2004, and he soon became the face of the team. Since then, he's been the NHL's MVP three times and won nearly every trophy there is, finally leading the Caps to win the Stanley Cup in 2018.

32
The Star Trek Revival

star trek discovery
CBS/IMDB

Any true Trekkie will tell you that Star Trek never really went away, but it did come roaring back to the public consciousness with the 2009 action-packed big-screen reboot of the original series. It introduced Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew to a whole new generation of viewers, and soon CBS was keen to start a new TV series as well. Star Trek Discovery premiered in 2017, and it will soon be followed up by Picard, a further exploration of Sir Patrick Stewart's character from The Next Generation, as well as an animated series called Lower Decks, expected to hit CBS All Access in 2020. With no end of new material in sight, Trekkies have a lot to be thankful for.

33
The #MeToo Movement

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There's a lot of talk these days about "slacktivism"—that is, paying lip service to a cause, usually on social media, without actually doing anything real for it. However, with #MeToo, the very act of posting one's story of sexual assault or harassment on social media was the movement, a way to let other survivors know they aren't alone and a way to tell the world that this is a real, pervasive problem. Started by activist Tarana Burke and popularized by actress Alyssa Milano in 2018, this hashtag has forced us to have difficult conversations about the ways power and gender intersect.

34
Keanu Reeves

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Shutterstock

We've learned in recent years not to take for granted any public figure who is a genuinely good person and treats everyone with respect, and in that vein, it's important to be grateful for Keanu Reeves. Say whatever you like about his acting, but he's a stand-up human being who gives large parts of his earnings to charity anonymously and will always stop to help a fan in need. The John Wick series, which had a strong showing since its 2014 debut, proves that he's still a verifiable movie star, and his cameo in 2019's Always Be My Maybe shows that he's more than willing to poke fun at his own image.

35
Tinder

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Shutterstock

Tinder has changed the way people meet. Online dating services have been around as long as the internet, but the location-based Tinder app, launched in 2012, has turned the matching process into a game. Phrases such as "swipe left/right" have made their way into the popular lexicon, and many married couples today have met on Tinder. While people who are only looking for a quick hook-up can certainly find what they want on the app, the past few years have shown that people are still looking for the same things in relationships they always have been, and Tinder merely facilitates the meeting.

36
My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder logo
My Favorite Murder

The ways that people perceive and talk about crime are always changing, and the latest trend consists largely of women who aren't afraid to say that they're fascinated with murder, kidnapping, and other violent crimes. Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark of the podcast My Favorite Murder, which debuted in 2016, have been two of the leading voices in this trend, each discussing one crime (or disaster) per week. They make it clear that their fascination with murder isn't prurience but rather curiosity combined with a very real threat of violence that women have to live with every day.

37
The Mass Effect Trilogy

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Shutterstock

The first Mass Effect game came out in 2007, and it received a decent amount of accolades. However, it was Mass Effect 2, released in 2010, that really set the gaming world on fire. Part of the draw was that the decisions made by anyone who had played the first Mass Effect affected the storyline of the sequel—and the visuals, the narrative, and the character development all received high praise from reviewers and players alike. The conclusion of the trilogy, released in 2012, had a controversial ending, but that hasn't stopped spin-offs in the form of other games, tie-in novels, action figures, and fan films.

38
Usain Bolt

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Shutterstock

Most world records are broken by small increments, particular in short-distance speed events—a single hundredth of a second can separate No. 1 from No. 2. Every now and then, however, we'll see an athlete who represents a huge leap forward of human achievement. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is one of those athletes. He won gold in the 100m and 200m in three consecutive Olympics. When he broke the world record for the 100m dash, he did so by more than a full tenth of a second—the largest margin since electronic timing began. Although Bolt retired in 2017, his records are likely to stand for a long time.

39
BTS

BTS
Shutterstock

Korean pop music is to the last decade what British pop was to the 1960s—a worldwide phenomenon. And though the seven-member group BTS (short for Bangtan Sonyeondan, or Bangtan Boys) isn't the first K-pop group to hit the world stage, they are The Beatles of the genre. In fact, in 2019, they became the first band since The Beatles to have three albums top the Billboard charts in the span of a year.

40
Stranger Things

stranger things
21 Laps Entertainment/IMDB

Featuring a combination of supernatural phenomena, talented child actors, and '80s nostalgia, Stranger Things, which premiered on Netflix in 2016, is one of the streamer's most talked about shows. Though the streaming service rarely releases viewership numbers, it claims that 64 million people watched the third season in the first month after it was released. Adults and teenagers alike relate to the characters trying to figure out what's going on in their fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, with walkie-talkies as their only technological aid.

41
Taika Waititi

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Shutterstock

Although director Taika Waititi has thus far only directed one major Hollywood film, it was a doozy. Thor: Ragnarok, released in 2017, was the highest-grossing film of the Thor trilogy. Waititi has been working even longer in his home country of New Zealand, writing and directing such cult favorites as the TV series The Flight of the Conchords (HBO) and What We Do in Shadows (FX). The fact that he's now getting his due in Hollywood is infinitely gratifying to his many fans.

42
The Thirteenth Doctor

jodie whittaker
Shutterstock

As the longest-running science-fiction television show in history, Doctor Who has gone through as many changes as its title character. Despite the recent version's modern sensibilities, the fact remained that the Doctor—an alien time-traveler who regenerates into a new body every few years—had always been a man for no real in-story reason. After much outcry, the thirteenth regeneration of the Doctor was played by British actress Jodie Whittaker. Whittaker, who stepped into the role in 2018, has spoken at length about Doctor Who's female fans, particularly young girls, who have expressed enormous gratitude for her taking on the challenge.

43
The Lego Movie

the lego movie
Warner Bros. Pictures

It seemed like a shameless cash grab: a movie about a toy that was only made to sell more of the toy. But 2014's The Lego Movie turned out to be a surprisingly clever riff on childhood whimsy. Without giving away any spoilers, there's a very good reason to have a generic Lego man, Gandalf, Batman, pirates, and 1980s Space Guy (among others) all fighting the bad guys together. Every detail of the film, like the use of human-made "pew pew" sounds for the laser guns, is thoughtful and charming—even grown-ups can truly enjoy watching it with kids. And thankfully, we got a sequel in 2019.

44
Web Series

Woman holding iPhone with video service YouTube on the screen
Shutterstock

Kids aren't watching as much TV these days—but they are watching plenty of YouTube. In the past decade, the phenomenon of the web series—a show filmed for and released on the internet, usually on YouTube—gained increasing popularity, particularly since you don't need a monthly subscription to watch these shows. A number of hit web series, like Broad City and Drunk History, even got picked up by networks to be small screen shows. Since the barriers to entry are low—anyone with a phone can make or edit video—this platform allows people without Hollywood resources to put their creative efforts out there.

45
Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out (2017)
IMDB/Universal Pictures

The best horror—whether a book, TV show, or movie—holds a mirror up to society and forces us to look at ourselves, twisted but still recognizable. Jordan Peele's directorial debut, 2017's Get Out, was that kind of movie, showing us the horrifying secret behind a family of "nice" white people when their daughter brings home an African-American boyfriend. Peele, primarily known before the movie as a comedian, shocked everyone with his skill as a director, his dark sense of humor, and his ability to find—and probe—racial pressure points. And his 2019 follow-up effort Us shows that we can continue to expect great things from Peele.

46
Dungeons & Dragons

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Shutterstock

As things once considered "nerd culture" have moved into the mainstream, the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has seen a resurgence in popularity. It features prominently in Stranger Things, and actors such as Wil Wheaton, Vin Diesel, and Joe Manganiello are all proud to be players. The fifth edition of the game, released in 2014, streamlined many of D&D's mechanics and has proven immensely popular. The game can function as a method of storytelling, so a number of podcasts and web series—most notably, Critical Role—follow groups of players on their characters' adventures.

47
Margaret Atwood

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Shutterstock

Now that The Handmaid's Tale has been made into a television series—and certain aspects of the book seem more prescient than ever—Margaret Atwood should be on everyone's reading list. Her most recent book, 2019's The Testaments, is a long-awaited sequel to Handmaid's Tale, but Gilead isn't her only dystopian setting. Her MaddAddam trilogy—Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013)—explores an apocalyptic future where genetic engineering and corporatization have spiraled out of control. Her stories are often dark, but never without hope—and we've been thankful to have her perspective for the past decade.

48
The Walking Dead

the walking dead
AMC via YouTube

Thus far, the 21st century could be called "the age of the zombies," with the undead creatures taking over contemporary entertainment, from World War Z to iZombie. But perhaps no piece of zombie pop culture has been more widespread than The Walking Dead, a comic book series that was turned into a TV show on AMC in 2010. The show is in its tenth season now, and for a time, it was the most watched show on the planet.

49
Spider-Man Movies

spider man far from home
Sony Pictures Releasing

Even if you know nothing about comic books or intellectual property rights, you've probably picked up on the fact that there has been an excess of Spider-Man movies in the past few years. Marvel sold the character's movie rights to Sony many years ago, and Sony had to keep making Spider-Man movies in order to maintain those rights. However, Sony finally agreed to share the rights with Marvel and Disney in 2015, allowing Spidey to join up with the Avengers for 2016's Captain America: Civil War and the Marvel movies that followed. In short, whether you're a Tom Holland fan or a Tobey Maguire admirer, Spider-Man fans have had more than enough to be thankful for when it comes to movie versions of their favorite superhero.

50
Tom Holland's Lip-Sync of "Umbrella"

tom holland lip sync
Comedy Central via YouTube

Spider-Man actor Holland may not have saved the world when he lip-synced and danced to Rihanna's "Umbrella" on the show Lip Sync Battle in 2017, but he certainly became an internet sensation. A trained dancer, Holland began the performance by soft-shoeing to "Singin' in the Rain"… until the beat dropped and his suit came off to reveal a corset and fishnets. What followed, though, was no goofy drag routine; between the excellent choreography and Holland's confidence, the number became an unexpectedly sexy performance that made you want to get up and dance yourself. The clip, which has been viewed more than 40 million times, is a complete blast to watch, and for that, we are thankful.

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