Whether you like to spend your October visiting charming fall towns, making your way through haunted houses or going apple picking, no Halloween season is complete without a great costume. And while some Halloween costumes, like witches, ghosts and Frankenstein’s monster, are classics, others come and go with the times. So, what was the most popular Halloween costume the year you were born or when you were growing up? To find out, we contacted Spirit Halloween to see which pop culture trends inspired the biggest costume for every year from 1983 to 2019.
TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images
In 1983, “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” was released in theaters, and while Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader are all solid costume options, it was Princess Leia who ended up being the most popular choice. Perhaps it’s because this is the movie where she donned her gold and brown bikini in addition to her classic white dress.
1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is one of the biggest Halloween movies of all time. While the movie’s villain, Freddy Krueger, remains a popular costume choice, it was the top pick during its release year.
Paul Kane/Getty Images
Hulkamania was running wild in 1985, brother! The exaggerated style of this wrestling star — with his tight red and yellow tank top and crazy bleach-blond mustache — is instantly recognizable, even to this day. Just don’t try doing his hairstyle at home.
If you loved love or luck or cheer or wishes back in 1986, chances are you loved the Care Bears. Characters from the classic, colorful ‘80s cartoon were the most popular costume choice of 1986.
Carl Court/Getty Images
Where’s Waldo? That’s one of the most mysterious mysteries of the ‘80s. But in 1987, you didn’t have to look too hard for this red-and-white striped, rounded glasses dude from the popular book series. He was everywhere on Halloween.
Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Known for her big bouffant and plunging neckline, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, hosted B-movie horror marathons throughout the ‘80s and made her leap to the big screen in 1988 with “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.” Costumes of the vampy character also leaped off the shelves.
If you’re in any city that loves Halloween, you’ll see tons of little Batmans walking around trick-or-treating. But following the release of Tim Burton’s “Batman” in summer 1989, the DC superhero was even more prevalent than he is today.
Cowabunga, dudes! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are the ultimate fun costume, with eye masks, turtle shell backpacks and plastic ninja weapons as accessories. These pizza-loving characters were the most popular Halloween costume of 1990, thanks to the popularity of their self-titled movie, which came out earlier that year.
JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP via Getty Images
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” came into theaters in summer 1991, and then a slew of tiny cyborgs took to the streets on Allhallows Eve to get Snickers and more of the most popular Halloween candies.
Batman may have dominated Halloween 1989, but 1992 was all about Catwoman. The popularity of Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in “Batman Returns,” which was released earlier that year, helped boost this comic book character’s star.
I love you, you love me, and Barney was everywhere in 1993. This jolly purple and green dinosaur, who taught kids about friendship and other lessons, was beloved by children everywhere in the ‘90s, making him the most popular costume of ‘93.
MIKE NELSON/AFP via Getty Images
“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” debuted in the United States in 1993, and the martial arts-packed show was a hit with kids as well as an instantly popular group Halloween costume for people trick-or-treating or going to parties together.
JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP via Getty Images
What was the top song the year you were born? If you were born in 1995, it would be “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio. And the top costume of that year? “Star Trek” characters.
You didn’t have to go to a real-life haunted house or hotel to get a good “Scream” in 1996. You would see plenty of Ghostface and costumes inspired by the hit horror film “Scream” everywhere.
Photo By Getty Images
Batman and Robin go together like macaroni and cheese. This ultimate couple or buddies costume was the top look of 1997 thanks to the popularity of the movie of the same name. No word on whether or not Mr. Freeze was a popular costume that year too or if he was iced out.
Photo By Getty Images
There are plenty of real TV and movie locations you can visit. South Park, Colorado, is not one of them. However, you can dress like Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Kenny and the rest of the gang. People have been doing it since 1998, when the Comedy Central show characters were the top costume of the year.
Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
When it comes to outdated fashion, a long leather trench coat and tiny sunglasses are definitely on the list of “please don’t wear.” But in 1999, this pairing was all the rage as a costume from the hit film “The Matrix.”
Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for BritWeek
Tie-dye and all things groovy never really went out of style, but the ultimate 1960s icon circa 2000 was Mike Myers’ Austin Powers character. Following the release of “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” in 1999, this velvet-suited, glasses-wearing international man of mystery was the top costume at the start of the new millennium.
Courtesy of Spirit Halloween
Ready, OK! Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri rocked the black, red and white cheerleader costumes for the Spartan Cheerleaders sketch on “Saturday Night Live” in the ‘90s, and this skit has since become the inspiration for couples’ Halloween costumes everywhere. It was especially popular in 2001.
Batman may have dominated the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the ‘00s were all about Spider-Man, thanks to the 2002 film starring Tobey Maguire as the web-slinging superhero. But don’t worry, Spider-Man is far from the most dangerous bug in the world.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” was released in the summer of 2003, and its swashbuckling tale and haunting shipwreck setting sent people into a pirate tizzy for Halloween that year. Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann — you saw them all and plenty of other pirate pals.
Spongebob Squarepants, that beloved childhood cartoon character, emerged from his pineapple under the sea to go trick-or-treating in 2004. This blocky yellow costume was the most popular of that year.
In 2005, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” was released, and a whole new generation of kids fell in love with the space opera. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader), Padme, Yoda and C-3PO are among the popular characters from this portion of the movie saga.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Though he wouldn’t run for president for another two years, then-Senator Barack Obama was a rising star in 2006, and thus, one of Spirit Halloween’s most popular costumes.
John B Hewitt/Shutterstock
“Spider-Man 3,” which came out in May 2007, featured your classic Peter Parker and Spider-Man but also brought the Black Suit into the mainstream, giving people two fashion options for this Marvel superhero.
Think back to 2008 and you’ll remember a swarm of roughly painted clowns with creepy smiles, stringy lime green hair and purple suits walking around eating Halloween treats while exclaiming, “How about a magic trick?” “The Dark Knight” and its super creepy villain, The Joker, were everywhere that year.
“Twilight” arrived in theaters in late 2008, and vampire mania hit America hard after that. The following Halloween, which was about one month before the release of “New Moon,” it was common to see Edward Cullen costumes at Halloween parties as well as traditional Draculas and other fanged creatures of the night.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
While some prefer their meat medium-rare, in 2010, pop star Lady Gaga made waves by rocking her meat as a dress. Whether Halloween revelers opted for a take on that outrageous outfit, a hair bow made out of hair, or a lightning bolt over one eye, there were no shortage of Gaga-inspired looks for Halloween 2010.
Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images
Today, the Jersey shore may be best known for its boardwalks that will take you back in time, but in 2011, the Jersey shore was known for, well, the TV show “Jersey Shore.” The tan, big bouffanted, slicked-back hairstyles of this show made for a fun couples or group costume idea.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
The Marvel Cinematic Universe may be a constant presence on streaming services and movie screens today, but in 2012, "The Avengers" was a new summertime blockbuster. The movie's stars, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow and more, were hugely popular costume choices.
Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for MTV
We may be used to Miley Cyrus’ wild antics today, but in 2013, the former Disney Channel star shocked America when she performed at the VMAs in a teddy bear bodysuit and twerked on singer Robin Thicke, who wore a Beetlejuice-esque black-and-white striped suit. The costume playing off of this performance, dubbed “Twerkin Teddy,” was Spirit Halloween’s top seller of the year.
Disney’s animated film “Frozen” hit theaters in November 2013, and the young (and young at heart) have not been able to let it go ever since. Anna, Elsa, Olaf and the rest of the gang have proven to be hugely popular characters, and their snowy attire was the top costume of Halloween 2014.
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Glamour
Caitlyn Jenner, father of Kendall and Kylie Jenner, came out as a trans woman on the cover of Vanity Fair in a huge moment for pop culture. Her simple white leotard was the top-selling costume of 2015.
Though Donald Trump had been a high-profile figure for decades, the businessman launched into the spotlight in 2016 when he ran for president of the United States. His black suits, wide red ties and signature orange, wispy hair made for the top-selling costume of 2016. Trump is running for reelection in 2020, and he’s sure to be a popular costume again this year. If you want to make sure you know how to vote in the 2020 election, here’s how to do so safely.
JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images
Disney’s “Hocus Pocus,” starring a trio of wicked witches, was released way back in 1993 but has since become a classic Halloween flick. The Sanderson sisters were the top-selling costume of 2017.
Fortnite, an online video game, debuted in 2017, and to say it’s been a sensation would be a bit of an understatement. Skins like Lynx, Drift and TomatoHead make for hugely popular costumes for kids and adults alike.
BARTOSZ SIEDLIK/AFP via Getty Images
Sometimes, it seems like Fortnite is everywhere, and that’s because it sort of is. This video game, which sometimes features cameos from musicians like Marshmello, was still hugely popular in 2019. Were you Drift in 2018? There were still plenty of options in ‘19: Giddy Up, X-Lord, Fishstick, Brite Bomber and so many more. And if all these Halloween costumes make you feel nostalgic, just wait until you reminisce about the most popular Halloween candy when you were a kid.
More from The Active Times: