What the most-Googled searches of 2023 tell us about the year


The news we followed, the people who fascinated us, the culture and trends that grabbed our attention — Google’s “Year in Search” data for 2023 sheds light on the top trending topics Americans wanted to know about this year.

From celebrities and athletes to TV shows and box-office hits, people across the country turned to the search engine for answers to pressing questions like “How often do you think about the Roman Empire?” and recipes for McDonald’s hit beverage of the year, the Grimace Shake.

While we may not have gotten all the answers, here’s what some of the top searches in the U.S. have to tell us about the past year:

The stories we followed

This year, the world was shocked by the war in Israel and Gaza, which was Google’s most-searched news story of the year. Following the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the militant group Hamas, Israel vowed to destroy the group and launched airstrikes and a ground operation into the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas.

A missile explodes in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike
A missile explodes in Gaza City during an Israeli airstrike on Oct. 8, 2023.

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images


The second most searched story of the year, according to Google, was the frantic search in June for the OceanGate Titan submersible, which vanished on a dive to the Titanic shipwreck site with five people aboard. Tragically, everyone on the tourist vessel was killed when it imploded under the pressures of the deep sea.

Americans also did a lot of searching for updates on hurricanes, with Hurricane Hilary, Hurricane Idalia, and Hurricane Lee rounding out the list of top 5 most-searched news stories. 

The people we were curious about

NFL player Damar Hamlin became the No. 1 most-Googled person on the list after the Buffalo Bills defensive back collapsed on the field in cardiac arrest during a Jan. 3 game. Hamlin has since made a full recovery and returned to play this season. Hamlin was also Google’s most-searched athlete of 2023.

Damar Hamlin
Damar Hamlin #3 of the Buffalo Bills after a game on Sept. 19, 2022.

Timothy T Ludwig / Getty Images


Actor Jeremy Renner was the No. 2 most-Googled person in the U.S. in 2023 following a New Year’s Day snowplow accident that left him hospitalized with over 30 broken bones. Renner was run over by the vehicle while trying to protect his nephew. He has since made a remarkable recovery. Renner was also the No. 1 most-Googled actor of the year.

Also high on Google’s list is the NFL’s Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs who helped bring home a Super Bowl victory in Feburary. Kelce, who was the No. 3 most-Googled person and No. 2 most-Googled athlete in the U.S. this year, has also been publicly dating pop superstar Taylor Swift since July. 

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce
Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have dinner at Waverly Inn on Oct. 15, 2023, in New York City. 

Gotham/GC Images via Getty Images


Ranking 4th and 5th on the most-Googled people list were former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlsonwho was ousted from the network in April, and internet personality Lil Tay, whose death was falsely reported in August.

The nation also searched for information on a number of beloved celebrities we lost in 2023, with “Friends” actor Matthew Perry‘s death being the most-Googled of the year. Perry was found dead at his home in Los Angeles at age 54 following a ketamine overdose in October.

Matthew Perry shooting
Matthew Perry shooting “Friends” in 1998.

Mathieu Polak/Sygma via Getty Images


Iconic singer-songwriter Tina Turner, TV host Jerry Springer, “Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffet, and singer and activist Sinéad O’Connor filled out the top 5 on the list of most-Googled celebrity passings of 2023.

What kept us entertained

Barbenheimer” dominated the U.S. box office, with the Greta Gerwig-directed “Barbie” and biopic “Oppenheimer” smashing records in their July joint-opening weekend. The two films were Google’s No. 1 and No. 2 most-searched movies of 2023 in the U.S.

Barbenheimer

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Alejandro Gómez Monteverde’s “Sound of Freedom,” the 2022 Oscar-winner “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” and the third installment of popular Marvel franchise “Guardians of the Galaxy,” occupied the third through fifth spots on the most-Googled films list.

“The Last of Us,” starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey and based on the popular video game of the same name, was the most-Googled television show in the U.S. in 2023. Pascal was also the fifth most-Googled actor.

Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal attend an event for HBO’s “The Last Of Us” on April 28, 2023 in Los Angeles.

FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO via Getty Images


When it comes to music, the controversial country hit “Try That in a Small Town” was the most-Googled song of the year, and the musician behind it, Jason Aldean, the most-Googled singer of the year in the U.S. in 2023. The track amassed widespread attention in July following the release of its music video, which depicted protesters confronting police officers.

2023 Country Thunder Wisconsin - Day 3
Jason Aldean performs onstage at Country Thunder Wisconsin

Joshua Applegate / Getty Images


Recipes, memes and more

In one of the more surprising results, McDonald’s Grimace Shake was the No. 1 most-Googled recipe in the U.S. in 2023. The purple milkshake inspired a viral TikTok trend this summer, with users trying Grimace’s berry-flavored beverage and then pretending to die.

The top Google search that began with the phrase “How often…” was in response to another viral Internet trend that encouraged users to ask men, “How often do you think about the Roman Empire?” The question took the No. 1 spot on Google’s most-searched trend list in the U.S. as well. 

The most-searched “Explained” query on Google was “The Menu explained,” referring to the 2022 film starring Ralph Fiennes as a celebrity chef, and Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult as a couple who dine in his restaurant.

And finally, the most-Googled meme in the U.S. of 2023 was Kevin James, referring to an image of the actor with his hands in his pockets and smirking at the camera. 

Kevin James On 'The King Of Queens'
Promotional portrait of actor and comedian Kevin James, in character for his role on the TV sitcom “The King of Queens,” late 1990s.

TONY ESPARZA / Getty Images


Google’s top search lists

See more of Google’s top-searched lists below, and read the U.S. data in full here:

News:

  1. War in Israel and Gaza
  2. Titanic submarine
  3. Hurricane Hilary
  4. Hurricane Idalia
  5. Hurricane Lee

People:

  1. Damar Hamlin
  2. Jeremy Renner
  3. Travis Kelce
  4. Tucker Carlson
  5. Lil Tay

Passings:

  1. Matthew Perry
  2. Tina Turner
  3. Jerry Springer
  4. Jimmy Buffet
  5. Sinéad O’Connor

Actors:

  1. Jeremy Renner
  2. Jamie Foxx
  3. Danny Masterson
  4. Matt Rife
  5. Pedro Pascal

Athletes:

  1. Damar Hamlin
  2. Travis Kelce
  3. Brock Purdy
  4. Lamar Jackson
  5. Jalen Hurts

Musicians:

  1. Jason Aledean
  2. Ice Spice
  3. Oliver Anthony
  4. Peso Pluma
  5. Joe Jonas

Songs:

  1. Try That in a Small Town – Jason Aldean
  2. Rich Men North of Richmond – Oliver Anthony
  3. Unholy – Kim Petras and Sam Smith
  4. Ella Baila Sola – Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma
  5. Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 – Ice Spice and PinkPantheress

Movies:

  1. Barbie
  2. Oppenheimer
  3. Sound of Freedom
  4. Everything Everywhere All At Once
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

TV Shows:

  1. The Last of Us
  2. Ginny & Georgia
  3. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
  4. Daisy Jones & The Six
  5. Wednesday

Recipe:

  1. Grimace Shake
  2. Lasagna soup
  3. Chicken cobbler
  4. Black cake
  5. Pumptini

Meme:

  1. Kevin James
  2. Ohio
  3. Police girl
  4. Folding chair
  5. Smurf cat

Trends:

  1. Roman empire trend
  2. Moon phase trend
  3. AI yearbook trend
  4. Instagram notes number trend
  5. Fruit Roll-Ups trend

Explained:

  1. The Menu explained
  2. No One Will Save You explained
  3. Silo explained
  4. Reptile explained
  5. Israel Palestine conflict explained



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