Comic-Con 2016 is here, and with it are exciting announcements from upcoming movies, games, television shows, and so much more. Cosplayers will be getting their costumes out once again, and the floor will be bustling with all of the excitement that comes with “geek culture.” With new things like Doctor Strange, Injustice 2, and Suicide Squad all set to play a part, there’s plenty to be excited about no matter what fandom you’re from.
In honor of the upcoming Comic-Con, eBay has released information on what franchises have made the most money in the past ten years on eBay, which obviously leads into how big each fandom is in that time. The numbers are staggering, and go to show how much “geek culture” has evolved in such a short time. What was generally looked down upon a few years ago is now fully embraced by the community and even encouraged. Everybody has something they love now, and with new franchises on the horizon, it’s only going to expand in the next few years.
In celebration of San Diego Comic-Con, we’ve comprised a list of the biggest fandoms based on how much money has been made off of them (using those eBay numbers of course); some of them were surprising, others… well, not so much. We’re sure you’ll see what we mean. Without any further delay, here are the top fifteen greatest fandoms of the past decade.
15. South Park – $8.7 M
Starting out as some of the first viral videos on the internet, South Park would eventually become its own beloved TV show. This adult sitcom/satire takes people through the misadventures of four young boys throughout their hometown. As with many great stories, the premise isn’t what’s interesting, it’s how the premise is handled that makes it good. South Park finds enjoyment in satirically poking fun at other things whilst making self-referential humor and crude jokes. Sounds kind of like “Deadpool the Show”. In all honesty, if you’re a fan of the “Merc With a Mouth,” there’s a lot to love here, and the fanbase will be the first people to tell you that. In the past ten years, this franchise has made $8,784,974 in total on eBay. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of South Park, but it’s not hard to see why people love it so much. The show has a way of dealing with the real issues in our world today while at the same time cracking jokes about how people are handling it. It’s a weird mixture of different kinds of humor and storytelling, but as the numbers have proven, it’s a weird mixture that works.
14. X-Men – $11.9 M
You have to give FOX credit where credit is due. Despite some missteps here and there, they seem to be the only company that can do a Marvel property justice other than Marvel. Since 2000, the X-Men have been a household name brought more and more into the spotlight by movies like Days of Future Past and the recent X-Men: Apocalypse. In the time they’ve grown as a film franchise, there have been many games, movies, Legos, and all kinds of other merchandise to promote these characters. While not currently as beloved as some other Marvel properties, they are the only Marvel characters on this list. Making a total of $11,947,018, people can’t seem to get enough of the X-Men. As a matter of fact, X-Men cosplays are some of the best of the entire convention (anyone remember that rad Apocalypse cosplay?). While the future of the X-Men franchise seems a little foggy, they still manage to be some of the most beloved characters to this day. Despite their successes though, I’m still hoping that FOX and Marvel can reach a deal or something because I want to see Wolverine in Avengers: Infinity War, or all of Xavier’s school for that matter.
13. Doctor Who – $21.2 M
Once you hear those futuristic sounding tones, you know exactly what show has been turned on. Doctor Who is one of those shows that you dislike until you actually understand what’s going on. For example, at first glance, it seems like they can’t keep an actor and just switch them every season, when fans of the show are aware that’s not the case at all. Doctor Who is a monument to how great television can be- once you start an episode you never know exactly what you’re in for. When your main character is a Time Lord who can travel to anywhere in time and space through use of a technologically advanced telephone booth, all predictability goes out the window. Doctor Who has since become an epic celebration of classic TV that brings people back to their childhoods when space travel was something new, and the possibilities were endless. Doctor Who is whimsical, magical, astounding, and fun even to this day. The franchise sits on a hefty $21,209,540, and considering you can buy pretty much anything with a TARDIS on it these days, I’m not that surprised at all. As Doctor Who progresses, it seems only to get better, and if that continues, the fandom will only grow as well.
12. Game of Thrones – $22.1 M
Game of Thrones is one of two franchises on this list that I’ve never spent any time with (for various reasons which I won’t go into). However, there’s no denying the praise and following that has come with this show. Game of Thrones is like a Hard R version of The Lord of the Rings, and while that can hurt the show at times, the benefits have more than outweighed the shortcomings. Game of Thrones is so popular that it has even gone ahead of the books which the show was originally based on. With dragons, Whitewalkers, and the coming Winter, there seems to be no small amount of epic tales for fans to follow. Due to its popularity, Game of Thrones edges out on Doctor Who just slightly with a sizable $22,115,854 made in the past ten years. When choosing between these two shows, I suppose it becomes a personal preference between sci-fi and fantasy (there are exceptions though). Regardless, the show has become so popular that even people that have never watched it have a general idea of the plot just because so many fans are buzzing about it constantly.
11. Naruto – $23.4 M
This is the other franchise that I’ve never spent any time with. However, Naruto is one of the most beloved anime series of all time (outmatched only by the first season of Pokemon), and with things like powerful foxes, Ninjas, awesome fight scenes, and lovable comedy, how could it not be a great franchise? The Naruto fandom is also some of the most devout people that I’ve ever met. They not only watch the show, but they play the video games, dress up as the characters, read the manga it’s based off of, and can’t say enough good things about it. It’s difficult not to have a good show when you adapt it from the fourth best-selling manga series in history. Critics give the show much praise for its storytelling, dialogue, direction, and mostly the characters; from the brash Naruto, to the serious-minded Sasuke. Naruto is definitely one of those franchises that you have to get into before you really start to love it, but once you start going down that road, there seems to be no return. If you go to Comic-Con and see somebody dressed like an anime ninja, odds are that they’re dressing up as somebody from this show. In the past decade, this franchise has made $23,471,413 on eBay.
10. The Lord of the Rings – $41.3 M
Now we’re talking. Not only do I identify myself in this fandom, I am also undeniably proud of it. The Lord of the Rings is my favorite movie series of all time, and it’s going to take everything in my power to not rave about it continuously. Based in the land of Middle-Earth, The Lord of the Rings is full of strange and unlikely creatures like Hobbits, Dwarves, Balrogs, Trolls, and Ringwraiths. The story that takes place in this world is one of an absolutely epic scale. The battles are immense, the characters are diverse, and the soundtrack is memorable in every way, shape, and form. It’s an incredible journey that you never want to end, and it’s a world that you want to be a part of. Since then there have been countless games, toys, Lego sets, and more from these three movies released back in the early 2000s. It says a lot about the quality of a film that the love for this franchise can still go on years after their release, and rank number ten on this list. The Lord of the Rings jumps quite far from Naruto by making a total of $41,323,469. And if you’re interested in watching the movies now, don’t worry, they aged very well.
9. The Walking Dead – $54.6 M
Zombie stories are a dime a dozen these days, but when a zombie story has done really well, people are going to go nuts about it. Case in point: The Walking Dead. What started as a cute little experiment on AMC has quickly evolved into one of the most beloved shows currently on air. With an impressive cast featuring the talents of Jon Bernthal and Norman Reedus, there’s a lot to love with each and every performance. Despite some run of the mill plot twists and death scenes, there is something special about The Walking Dead. That being said, it is not my favorite zombie story (that would belong to The Last of Us), but it still strikes an emotional chord and a moral imbalance that should be present in a post-apocalyptic TV show, and the fandom will never let you forget that. Any time spent in social media, you’ll see references to this show sprinkled throughout, while Sunday nights become a storm of raving about the latest episode. The Walking Dead currently sits at a horrifyingly good $54,635,144.
8. The Legend of Zelda – $83 M
You can’t make a list on the biggest fandoms of the past decade and not expect to write about one of the greatest game series of all time. What’s most impressive about The Legend of Zelda is that despite how successful it is, the franchise only has the games that has gotten it up this far. There are no TV shows (I’m not counting the cartoon), no movies, or anything like that. All you need is a Nintendo console, and you’re good to go. The Legend of Zelda has defined generations for how they imagine adventure video games, and have even inspired other developers to create games like Skyrim and Darksiders. What’s even more interesting about Zelda is that you could go your entire life and just play the games, but those that really want to learn more can look at things like Hyrule Historia and really get everything out of it they can. Just like the games themselves, the franchise, too, only gives based upon the work you put into it. The franchise has made $83,046,559, and is only shaping up to get better with the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the way. It’s a great time to be a part of this fandom.
7. Harry Potter – $84.7 M
Where social media has been sprinkled with The Walking Dead, Harry Potter has saturated it. A series of seven books telling the story of a young boy who found out he was a wizard captivated readers with the very first installment. Then as the story progressed, the story slowly became darker and more intense as our protagonist discovered he was the only one who could take down the villainous Lord Voldemort. It’s a marvel of storytelling that was later skillfully adapted into eight enjoyable movies. Since then, the fanbase has gone crazy. One look on social media, and you’d think that the Deathly Hallows Part 2 still hadn’t come out yet. Despite Harry’s story ending, the love for him is still alive and well, to the point where a prequel movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is set to come out in November of this year. Not only has this beast of a franchise made $84,791,533, but a Harry Potter item is sold on eBay every 75 seconds. There is no shortage of fans for the Wizarding World, and it seems that there will be no shortage for many years to come (until they try to remake the movies, that is).
6. Superman – $96 M
It doesn’t surprise me that the Man of Steel managed to make this list, what surprises me is that he managed to beat out Harry Potter. But, when considering what a cultural icon Superman has been for the past eight decades or so, it becomes clearer. The age old story is of the Last Son of Krypton coming down from his dying planet to Earth and being raised as Clark Kent. He set the standard for all superheroes after him, and brought the whole “secret identity” thing to the table. Everybody knows who Superman is, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who actively hates him. Since his glory days, Superman has fought monsters like Doomsday, tactical geniuses like Batman, and gods like Darkseid. When a war comes to Earth, you can be sure that the Man of Steel will be there to save the day. Once you hear that sonic boom, you know that he is not going down without a fight. The fan base loves him too, with Superman making a total of $96,015,809 in the past ten years alone. Not bad for a guy that uses glasses as his only disguise.
5. Star Trek – $112.3 M
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Even though Star Trek hasn’t been as active as some other franchises, that hasn’t stopped the true fans from still pouring their wallets into it. The countless voyages the crew of the Enterprise made will never leave the memories of anyone who fell in love with them all those years ago. Now with recent installments like Star Trek: Beyond and a new Star Trek show on the horizon, it seems the perfect time to get back into Star Trek. In the past ten years, Star Trek managed to scrounge a total of $112,305,369, and how can you really be surprised? Star Trek is one of those untouchable franchises that will never be lost because of how it is remembered by those who watched the originals years ago. Then the love will be further rekindled if the new show and future reboots turn out to capture the magic that was once present.
4. Pokemon – $173.4 M
This is another one of those fandoms which I shamelessly belong to. Starting in the late ’90s as a cute idea to raise and battle your own little pets, it has since grown into a cultural phenomenon thanks to an anime, multiple films, a card game, plush toys, and the most popular app in history: Pokemon GO. I have been a fan since the original and Red and Blue, and as the count of different Pokemon has grown, so has my love for the franchise. There is something still unique about raising and battling your Pokemon across multiple generations and being able to transfer them to every new game you get. Pokemon is one of those franchises that will always be loved and not looked down upon because it does something that not many other things do these days- it appeals to the young child in all of us. It gives an opportunity to escape reality and go on the adventures we were never able to. It has raked in $173,476,395; do I even need more proof than that? I must also mention that Pokemon has an incredible selling rate, with one item on eBay purchased every 28 seconds. Even if you don’t like Pokemon, you can’t escape the reality that it will always be popular.
3. Transformers – $178.2 M
This one kind of shocked me a bit. There is little to no love for the Transformers movie franchise (I’m including myself in that statement), which is pretty much the only mainstream media Transformers has done for quite some time, then again, it is a franchise designed to sell toys. To be honest, the toys are some of the coolest contraptions ever created. Having a robot that could transform into a tank, plane, or even a dinosaur was probably the greatest toy idea ever (just behind Legos of course). The love for these robots that are “more than meets the eye” is apparently so popular that they even outperform Pokemon in sales, but only just. The franchise has brought in $178,227,137 over the past ten years, with one item being sold per minute. The Michael Bay movies might be terrible, but you really can’t argue with those numbers. Even then, most of the devout fans find their love in the old cartoons, video games, and so forth. The only reason Bay is still making these movies is because they’re bringing in a lot of money with movie tickets and merchandise.
2. Batman – $216.6 M
It brings inner joy to my heart to see that my favorite franchise is number two on this list. If you thought it was hard for me not to rave about The Lord of the Rings or Pokemon, you haven’t seen anything yet. Batman is the classic story of a boy who saw his parents murdered in front of his eyes. In order to make sure things like that never happened again, he began his crusade against crime years later as the Batman: an icon that would forever strike fear into the scum of Gotham. Batman has only gotten better as time has ticked on, especially in his movies and video games. The Arkham games are the best superhero games of all time, and regardless of how you feel about Batman V Superman, you can’t argue that Ben Affleck’s performance was the best part of the film. On top of that, you can pretty much buy anything with a bat logo on it, from a shower curtain to blankets to phone cases, etc. Batman is a legend, and will always remain so. His fans agree as well, leading to the Batman franchise making $216,670,864 in total, with one Batman item sold every 38 seconds. One could probably become Batman with that kind of money.
1. Star Wars – $593.7 M
Was there ever any doubt? Star Wars is not only a cultural icon- it is THE cultural icon. The original Star Wars movie redefined what audiences could expect from a blockbuster, and inspired all kinds of movies after it, even to this day. Star Wars is a legend, a legacy, and a monument. Even if the current movies released end up being terrible, you can still go to Comic-Con and see people decked out in Stormtrooper or Darth Vader gear. That’s how beloved this franchise is. The people don’t care if the new movies or shows turn out bad, they will still love Star Wars – and that’s not a bad thing. Games are still being made, their line of Legos will never end, they even have their own brand of Macaroni and Cheese! There will never be any dethroning Star Wars from the top spot, more than doubling the money made by #2 Batman. Star Wars has brought in a jaw-dropping (you may want to sit down) $593,765,974 over the past ten years, with one item being sold every fourteen seconds on eBay. And to think this ‘Empire of Merchandise” all started with one man’s idea of a new kind of movie.