1. Idris Elba
Elba’s role as Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim introduced him to a brand-new audience of moviegoing teens and millennials, although savvy TV audiences already knew him from his run on HBO’s The Wire and his leading role in the BBC’s Luther. He’s good at Twitter, and he’s charming, attractive, and British: pretty much a recipe for an instant internet fandom.
2. Jennifer Lawrence
Lawrence may have become “America’s sweetheart” after her Oscar-winning role as Tiffany Maxwell in Silver Linings Playbook (not to mention her role as Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games series), but NOBODY loves her as much as the internet. Her easygoing, frank manner, and critical comments about Hollywood’s standards of beauty have endeared her to Tumblr, Twitter, and basically anyone who has an internet connection.
3. Mads Mikkelsen
Danish star Mikkelsen plays the titular character on NBC’s Hannibal, a new dark drama that traces the early years of Hannibal Lecter’s life before people realized that he was a cannibal. Though he rose to international fame in the 2000s with roles in 2004’s King Arthur and the James Bond film Casino Royale, from the moment Hannibal aired in April 2013, a rabid following developed around the program and the actors — and people don’t seem to mind that Mikkelsen’s character eats people in every episode.
4. Rinko Kikuchi
As Mako Mori in Pacific Rim, Kikuchi obliterated every trope of a stereotypical female character in an action movie. She was badass, she beat the boys, and, best of all, had a fully developed character arc. The internet fell in love with both the character and the actress, and never looked back.
5. Orlando Jones
Jones plays Captain Irving in Fox’s fan favorite Sleepy Hollow, but he has earned the ardent love of the internet by actively engaging with fans on Twitter and Tumblr. Unlike many actors, who seem wary of fandoms and all their idiosyncrasies, Jones embraces the (admittedly strange and wonderful) culture, and the internet has embraced him. Who would’ve thought the 7 Up guy would come so far?
6. Jaimie Alexander
Alexander plays the badass Lady Sif in Thor: The Dark World. (If you’re picking up on a theme here, you’re not wrong: The internet loves strong female characters.) Although it helps that Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster is widely disliked by most Marvel fans, Alexander’s portrayal of the warrior maiden made her the internet’s choice for the upcoming Wonder Woman reboot. Plus, she volunteers at children’s hospitals in her free time. In costume. This Kyle XY alumna has certainly grown up nicely.
7. Clark Gregg
Veteran actor Gregg’s return as the beloved Agent Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was one of the biggest moments for TV fans this year. In fact, he’s pretty much the reason most of the internet is still watching the program. And the fact that he also live-tweets each episode of the show and interacts with fans online has really added to the affection the internet’s had for him since The Avengers.
8. Rebel Wilson
Wilson’s role as “Fat Amy” in Pitch Perfect made her an instant favorite to the internet denizens after she first piqued some interest in a minor role in 2011’s Bridesmaids. It was only a short time before the Australian actress hosted the MTV Movie Awards and got her own show, ABC’s Super Fun Night.
9. Hugh Dancy
As criminal profiler Will Graham on Hannibal, Dancy played a man who’s slowly losing his mind throughout the show’s tense, cannibal-heavy first season. Much like it embraced his costar Mads Mikkelsen, the internet immediately fell in love with both Dancy and his character. The British actor had been a critical darling thanks to roles in the 2011 cult-centric film Martha Marcy May Marlene and 2009’s Adam, in which he played a young man with Asperger syndrome, but the Hannibal cast’s active engagement with its fans (such as acknowledging popular Tumblr memes, like flower crowns) sealed the deal for the internet.
10. Emilia Clarke
Clarke’s epic portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen in Season 3 of Game of Thrones caused everyone on the internet to root for her to win back the Iron Throne of Westeros. The warrior khaleesi is one of the most beloved characters on Tumblr, as is the actress who plays her.
11. Misha Collins
Although Collins has always been an online fandom favorite due to his role as Castiel in Supernatural, his outreach to fans over Twitter, telephone, and organized worldwide scavenger hunts easily made him a breakout star of the year.
12. Jenna Louise Coleman
Becoming the new companion in Doctor Who pretty much guarantees internet stardom. Although fans remain conflicted about Coleman’s character, Clara Oswald, there’s no denying that she’s become one of the most well-known faces on the internet.
13. Natalie Dormer
Her turns as the cunning Irene Adler in Elementary and the captivating, clever Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones made Dormer one of the biggest cross-fandom stars of 2013. It was only a matter of time, considering the former star of The Tudors will soon be seen in the final two movies of the Hunger Games franchise.
14. Tom Mison
Mison plays Ichabod Crane, a man out of time, in Fox’s surprise hit of the season Sleepy Hollow. He’s handsome, he’s British, and he’s starring in a cult favorite show. The internet love was inevitable.
15. Tatiana Maslany
Maslany stars in the BBC’s Orphan Black and delivers one of the best performances the medium’s seen in years. It’s impossible to watch the show without becoming a member of the Maslany fan club, especially since she plays seven characters on the series — so it’s inevitable viewers would fall in love with at least one version of her (if not all).
16. Tom Hiddleston
Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki in Thor: The Dark World was one of the most-anticipated performances of the year for the internet. Already one of Tumblr’s favorite celebrities, the actor’s press junkets and media appearances introduced him to a wider group of fans, who fell in love. Because why wouldn’t you?
17. Honorable Mention: Anna Kendrick
Kendrick’s lead role in 2012’s Pitch Perfect kept her in the public eye (and on the radio) in 2013, but it’s her unapologetic nerdiness and domination of Twitter that’s made the actress an internet favorite. A Twilight alumna who got more love from the internet for her work post-franchise? Impressive.
18. Honorable Mention: Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian Mckellen
These two seventysomething men figured out how to be the best people on Twitter in 2013 and subsequently won the internet. The end.
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