Monday, January 21, 2008

Ranking Science Fiction Characters

A colleague recently introduced me to Google Fight, which let's you stage bouts between your favorite web celebrities based on the number of hits Google gives them.

Well, sort of. For example, if you take the two predominate figures of the longest-running science fiction franchises on US television, Google Fight gives you:

James T Kirk: 296,000 results
Jack O'Neill:      24 results

which is obviously screwy. Going to Google its own self gives you:

James T Kirk: 389,000 results
Jack O'Neill: 573,000 results

which is in some ways even screwier: is the Star Trek franchise so dead that its leading hero gets beat out by MacGyver? (4,870,000 hits, though “Angus MacGyver” gets 29,400)

Anyway, this led me to the task of ranking leading science fiction characters by real Google hits, not Google fight hits. Below are my results, feel free to add to them. The rules are:

  1. The Google search string must include the common name of the character, along with a name that distinguishes the work in which the character appears. Thus we'll search for “James Kirk Star Trek“ to distinguish Tiberius from the actor of that name.
  2. There are no quotation marks in the search string.
  3. Yes, I did search Harry Potter Harry Potter
  4. The rank will be the number that appears after the string “Results 1-10 of” on Google, i.e., we'll use the first count Google gives us.
  5. If you don't recognize the characters here, don't whine about it, just Google them. The choice of characters says more about me than you anyway.
  6. Don't give me any grief about using “Benjamin Sisko” rather than “Ben Sisko” either.
  7. If you don't like my definition of Science Fiction, well, frak.
  8. No, I don't know why the Kirk searches above and below disagree so strongly. Ask Google.

And the results:

Character Work Hits Comments
Harry Potter Harry Potter 10,400,000 You expected different?
Luke Skywalker Star Wars 2,870,000 The Force is strong in this one.
Han Solo Star Wars 2,370,000 Not bad here, either.
Hermione Granger Harry Potter 2,150,000 Even Ron likes Harry better than you, Hermione
Albus Dumbledore Harry Potter 1,260,000 Wonder how many hits are from this fall?
James Kirk Star Trek 916,000 The Captain Supreme
Death Discworld 792,000 HOW INTERESTING
Gil Hamilton Known Space 769,000 A very long arm
Lazarus Long Future History 730,000 Still read Heinlein, I see
Teal'c Stargate 539,000 Kree!
Spock Star Trek 452,000 That I am behind a gold-tattooed alien is not logical.
Daniel Jackson Stargate 368,000 Needs to Ascend again
Lucas Garner Known Space 337,000 Old codgers do all right here
Neo Matrix 335,000 Young twerps, too.
Jean Luc Picard Star Trek 280,000 Was ahead of Teal'c until the latter stopped shaving is head.
Jack O'Neill Stargate 257,000 It's a lot worse with only one L.
Trinity Matrix 257,000 Apparently chicks in leather don't do as well as you'd think
Kathryn Janeway Star Trek 238,000 Well, better than this, thank God.
R2D2 Star Wars 209,000 The highest-rated robot
Samantha Carter Stargate 168,000 Should have done nude scenes when they were on Showtime
Adama Battlestar Galactica 149,000 About half-and-half.
Benjamin Sisko Star Trek 132,000 Deep in your heart, you know he was the best Captain
Miles Vokosigan Vokosigan 103,000 Short smart punks apparently don't score as well as tall dumb Colonels.
Rincewind Discworld 67,700 Wizzards are soon forgotten, especially if they don't get any new book deals.
Samuel Vimes Discworld 39,900 Cops, too.
The Luggage Discworld 37,100 But it does iron your shirts.
Granny Weatherwax Discworld 33,800 Apparently being Good and Right doesn't make you popular, either.
Corwin Amber 37,800 Obviously in the wrong shadow.
Hari Seldon Foundation 35,400 Don't worry, his name is all over this one Encyclopedia.
Fafhrd Lankhmar 15,000 I guess swords aren't all that popular these days.
John Falkenberg Falkenberg's Legion 10,100 Johnny Christian, we hardly knew ye.
Dominic Flandry Flandry 9,580 Maybe I'm showing my age.
John Grimes Rim Worlds 9,200 You think?
Gray Mouser Lankhmar 8,960 Undoubtedly.
Louis Wu Ringworld 6,130 Boosterspice, Louis baby, Boosterspice
Kimball Kinnison Lensmen 1,020 Mentor might not like this.
R. Daniel Olivaw Robot 1,010 Robots of Doom, indeed.
Nessus Ringworld 548 Two brainless heads are apparently not better than one.
Tela Brown Ringworld 73 Heading this list must be unlucky.

And, as I said before, add your contributions below.