The Most Popular Halloween Costumes From Each of the Last 20 Years


Everyone wants to be the clever one at the Halloween party. This year, for example, there's bound to be a sea of Trumps and Cecil the Lion-slaying dentists. But what did the holiday parades look like two or even 20 years ago?

We'll tell ya! Based on an infographic put together by costume mega-chain Spirit Halloween on the hottest pop culture-inspired ensembles, these are the most popular Halloween costumes of the last 20 years. Don't feel bad about that velvet Austin Powers jacket you have hidden in the back of your closet. You're obviously not alone.


1995: Star Trek crew

Starfleet uniforms have been a viable Halloween costume for Trekkies since 1966, but they really got a chance to shine in 1995, when Star Trek: Voyager (aka the one with Red from Orange Is the New Black and that silvery lady with numbers for a name) premiered.

Flickr/Nathan Rupert

1996: Scream

Back in 96, lazy people on Halloween only had to pick up a mask and a black robe, thanks to Wes Craven's first Scream movie. Even lazier people could just wear their finest beige sweater and say they were Drew Barrymore.

Flickr/Dave Keeshan

1997: Batman and Robin

With every new superhero movie comes a wave of updated costumes... even if the movie in question is universally reviled Batman & Robin. Mercifully, most people skipped the Batnipples.

Flickr/Stephen Little

1998: South Park kids

We'd only known Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny for a year when orange parkas became a trendy Halloween must-have. Although the only necessary part of a South Park costume was the winter outerwear, truly committed Kennys brought their own blood squibs.

Flickr/Robert Patton

1999: Neo

If you have a leather duster, it was probably because you were one of the legions of Neos during Halloween of '99. And if you weren't, carry on, we don't know your life.

Flickr/Gene Han

2000: Austin Powers

The fun guessing game of "Elton John or Austin Powers?" peaked in the new millennium, before Goldmember convinced everyone it was time to revert to the original Mike Myers costume: Wayne Campbell.

Flickr/Charles Willgren

2001: SNL Spartan cheerleaders

Cheerleader costume? Boring. But add "Spartans" to your sweater and some chants about Paula Abdul to your repertoire and suddenly, you're Will Ferrell. And no one was more popular than 2001 Will Ferrell.

Flickr/Nathan Rupert

2002: Spider-Man

Remember when there was only one live action Spider-Man movie? What simpler times those were.

Flickr/Robert Ziegler

2003: Captain Jack Sparrow

One little pirate movie was all it took for dudes with dirty hair and thumb rings asking "Why is the rum gone?" to be gods. Thanks a lot, Johnny Depp.

Flickr/Nathan Rupert

2004: SpongeBob SquarePants

Wearing knee socks and high-waisted shorts simultaneously is a questionable life choice. There was a SpongeBob movie in 2004, though, so this happened quite a lot. 

Flickr/Terry Robinson

2005: Darth Vader

When Revenge of the Sith hit in 05, Star Wars fans came out in droves dressed as General Grievous and Jar Jar Binks. But the ones with self-respect retreated to the classics, as a nerdy defense mechanism.

Flickr/Eddy Milfort

2006: Barack Obama

Barry earned his own mask a solid two years before he got the Oval Office or either of those fancy Portuguese water dogs. In 2006, he was just a senator with a single book under his belt and a smile that made Millennials swoon. 


2007: Spider-Man (again)

Come on, guys, did you have to reward Spider-Man 3?!

Flickr/Minowa Naitoh

2008: The Joker

Remember when every single dude between the ages of 12 and 35 decided to dye his hair green and ask people if they wanted to see a magic trick? That was in 2008, and no, none of you were half as convincing as Heath Ledger.

Flickr/Nathan Rupert

2009: Vampire

Vampires are a perennially popular costume, but they found a whole new life (ha!) after Stephenie Meyer's sparkly bloodsuckers hit the big screen.

Flickr/Phong Nguyen

2010: Lady Gaga

Many Diet Cokes and cigarettes were wasted to copy Lady Gaga's "Telephone" music video style. Admittedly, it was way cheaper than springing for the bedazzled "Bad Romance" bath house look.

Flickr/Nathan Rupert

2011: Snooki and The Situation

2011 was the year The Jersey Shore went to Florence, and the cast's horrifying encounters with actual Italians inspired people to spray-tan themselves orange and scream about grenades. The Situation was the simpler costume here -- just GTL, put on an Ed Hardy shirt, and order the foulest rail tequila possible -- but committing to a Snooki bouffant meant you could carry pickles around all night. Point Snooki.

Flickr/Pat Loika

2012: The Avengers

You had your choice of Captain America, The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Iron Man, Thor, Nick Fury, Agent Colson, or Maria Hill -- you just had to get shawarma after the party.


2013: VMA Miley Cyrus

Spotted frequently with Robin Thicke -- who was somehow an even creepier Beetlejuice than Michael Keaton -- VMA Miley was actually the more modest Miley Cyrus costume option in 2013. To anyone who attempted Wrecking Ball, we hope you finally got all that drywall dust out of your buttcrack.


2014: Elsa and Anna

Over a year after Frozen ruined parents' lives forever, people still couldn't let those Elsa and Anna costumes go. That's a joke based on the movie's hit song! Thank you and good night.

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Kristin Hunt is a staff writer for Thrillist, and wonders where her 2014 Halloween costume, Tina Belcher, ranked on the spectrum. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.