30 Most Iconic Popculture Moments Of The Past Decade

It's been a big ten years for popculture.

30 Most Iconic Popculture Moments Of The Past Decade
Avengers Assemble. Credit: Marvel

It's been a very big ten years for popculture. The Avengers assembled for the first time, Thirteen Doctors united to save Gallifrey for the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, Dragons returned to the world on Game Of Thrones, Stranger Things became a phenomenon, and Baby Yoda won hearts.

Following on from a round-up of the last decade's most memorable heroic sacrifices, here's a list of some of the most iconic popculture moments from the last decade.

1. 'I volunteer as tribute!' (The Hunger Games)

To save her little sister, Primrose, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to be District 12's Tribute in the Hunger Games, a horrific contest in which twenty-four children are forced into a battle to the death.

Hunger Games mania dominated the early 2010s. The film made stars of Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth, and children everywhere took up archery in the hopes of emulating Katniss. The scene where Katniss volunteers to save Prim inspired many a meme. While The Hunger Games popularity has not proved quite as enduring as other YA franchises, its early dominance still earns it a place on the list. Interest in the franchise will likely be revived by the upcoming prequel film.

2. Molly Weasley defeats Bellatrix Lestrange. (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows part 2.)

There are many memorable moments in the final Harry Potter film, but for it's accuracy to the book, combined with pure awesome, this one takes the cake. After her daughter, Ginny, faces a near miss at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange, Molly Weasley steps up to take on the insane witch, uttering the unforgettable line:

"Not my daughter, you Bitch!"

Better still, Molly wins, showing everyone exactly why the Weasley matriarch is not to be messed with.

3.'Hello, I'm The Doctor.. Basically, run.' (Doctor Who, 'The Eleventh Hour')

After the departure of David Tennant's hugely popular Tenth Doctor, the future of the revived Doctor Who was in doubt. However, fans needn't have worried. In the closing act of 'The Eleventh Hour', The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, calls the alien Atraxi back to Earth and delivers an epic speech about his role as the planet's protector.

Beginning from this moment, Smith's Eleventh Doctor, with his love for bow-ties, fezzes, and fish fingers and custard, pushed Doctor Who onto the world stage in a way that few Doctors have managed before or since.

4. Hiccup rides Toothless for the first time (How To Train Your Dragon)

The bond between Hiccup and his rescued Night Fury dragon, Toothless, is cemented when the pair fly together for the first time. After a few moments of panic when Hiccup briefly falls from Toothless's back and loses the cheat sheet helping him control the dragon's new mechanical tail, he realises that he can control things better when he is relaxed. Hiccup ditches the cheet-sheet, letting himself be one with Toothless.

The music playing during this scene, 'Test Drive' by John Powell, has become one of the most recognisable pieces of cinematic score in recent memory.

5. The Birth of Daenerys's Dragons (Game Of Thrones)

Game Of Thrones, the TV series based on George R.R Martin's 'A Song Of Ice And Fire' novels, proved a surprise hit when it first aired in 2011. Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, became one of the show's breakout characters.

In the final episode of Season one, after the death of her husband, Khal Drogo, Daenerys places a trio of petrified dragon eggs given to her at the beginning of the series on Drogo's funeral pyre, before stepping into the flames herself, her followers initially believing that she was choosing to die with her husband. The following morning, however, they find her, naked and covered in soot, but unharmed, cradling three baby dragons.

This scene, in which Daenerys becomes the Mother of Dragons, remains one of the most enduring images in the show's history.

6. The Avengers assemble for the first time. (The Avengers)

In 2012, Marvel Studios managed a seemingly impossible feat by bringing all it's greatest big-screen heroes together in The Avengers. After struggling to get along for most of the film, the group finally puts aside their differences when New York comes under attack by the alien Chitauri.

The scene in which the six Avengers all come together for the first time remains one of the most memorable moments in any Marvel film, and the score by Alan Silvestri quickly became one of the most iconic themes of all time.

7. 'Let It Go' (Frozen)

Frozen is easily the most well-known Disney animated feature of the past decade, and it's inspirational, horribly catchy theme song, 'Let It Go', is a big part of the reason why. In fact, 'Let It Go' transformed Frozen into a very different film than was originally planned. Initially a more faithful adaptation of Han's Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, with Elsa as the villain, the film was reworked to make Elsa a more sympathetic figure after the writers decided that 'Let It Go' didn't feel like a villain song.

It didn't take long for the internet to be flooded with covers and parodies of 'Let It Go', continuing for years after the film was released. There's no greater sign of popculture significance than a good parody.

8. The Doctors save Gallifrey (Doctor Who, 'Day Of The Doctor')

2013 saw the much loved sci-fi series Doctor Who celebrate it's milestone fiftieth anniversary. Obviously, a big event was needed in order to celebrate this, and luckily writer Steven Moffat delivered. Since the series was revived in 2005, The Doctor was portrayed as the Last of the Time Lords, his home planet Gallifrey having been destroyed during a huge off-screen event, the Time War. This all changed in the fiftieth anniversary special, 'The Day Of The Doctor'.

Most of the special focuses on three incarnations of The Doctor, leading up to the. Matt Smith's Eleventh, David Tennant's Tenth, and the previously unseen War Doctor, leading to the point in time in which The Doctor was forced to destroy Gallifrey to prevent the Time War from ravaging the rest of the Universe. Instead, The Doctors find a way to spare Gallifrey by relocating it to a pocket universe. Every incarnation of The Doctor whom existed at that point arrives to help, including the future Twelfth. This leads to a breathtaking shot of thirteen Tardises surrounding Gallifrey, working together to end the Time War.

Seven years after it's release, 'Day Of The Doctor' still tops many Doctor Who 'best of' lists.

9. The Red Wedding (Game Of Thrones)

Fans of Game Of Thrones, particularly those who hadn't read the books, were left in shock by the closing minutes of Season three, episode 9, 'The Rains Of Castamere'. While visiting The Twins for the Wedding of his Uncle, Edmure Tully, to Roslin Frey, King In The North Robb Stark, his wife Talisa, mother Catelyn Stark, and most of the Stark Bannermen are slaughtered on the order of Lord Walder Frey. The massacre was carried out as revenge for Robb breaking an earlier marriage pact with the Freys after he fell in love with Talisa.

After a season that was relatively low on big deaths, some fans had probably been lulled into a false sense of security. The Red Wedding was a brutal reminder that no-one is safe on Game Of Thrones, and remains one of the series most memorable scenes.

10. Dance-off to save the Universe (Guardians Of The Galaxy)

Guardians Of The Galaxy was easily one of the biggest risks taken by Marvel Studios. A movie with a genetically engineered raccoon and a talking tree among the major characters was always going to be a bit left of centre. However, the film quickly became one of the most successful entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, producing one of the franchise's most beloved scenes.

Peter Quill interrupts the villainous Ronan's victory speech to challenge him to a dance-off. Ronan thinks Quill is insane, but he successfully distracts him long enough for Drax and Rocket Raccoon to repair and fire a weapon that shatters the hammer in which Ronan has hidden the Power Stone. The scene exemplifies everything about the Guardians as a team: Silly, but effective.

11. The identity of the Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is widely considered one of the best films in the MCU, with the above battle on the bridge one of it's best scenes.

Comic book fans were likely aware of the first of the film's two major twists the moment the title was revealed. For those not versed in comic history, however, the reveal that the deadly Winter Soldier is actually a brainwashed Bucky Barnes, Cap's presumed dead best friend, proved quite a shock. The reveal remains among the most memorable MCU moments.

12. 'Chewie, we're Home' (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

After Disney purchased Lucasfilm, fans were left eagerly awaiting the release of new Star Wars movies. The reception to Disney's efforts has been mixed. For the most part, fans have responded more positively to spin-offs like Rogue One and Solo than to the sequel trilogy. However, the sequels have given us a few great moments, particularly the following one from The Force Awakens.

After stealing the Millenium Falcon from Unkar Plutt and escaping First Order forces on the Desert planet Jakku, Rey and Finn plan to reunite BB-8 with the Resistance. Before they can set off on this quest, the Falcon is snatched up by a larger ship. Rey, Finn, and BB-8 hide moments before the ship is boarded.. By it's rightful owners, Han Solo and Chewbacca.

"Chewie, we're Home."

The much loved duo's return to the Falcon was one of the big buzz moments of The Force Awakens trailer, and fans loved it just as much in the final film.

13. The Airport battle (Captain America: Civil War)

The events of Captain America: Civil War changed the relationships in the Marvel Cinematic Universe forever. After the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, political forces believe the Avengers need to be put in check, introducing the Sokovia Accords, which would place control of the team in the hands of the U.N. Iron Man believes the team should sign the accords, while Captain America does not.

The conflict ultimately leads to the divided team engaging in an epic battle at a German airport. The airport battle is iconic for a number of reasons, including the debut of Spider-Man in the MCU, and the first time Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man.

14. Eleven (Stranger Things)

Netflix Original series Stranger Things became a surprise smash hit for the streaming service when it premiered in 2016. Viewers were quickly drawn into the show's 80's setting and strong Steven King vibe.

The show's break out character is the super-powered Eleven, played brilliantly by Millie Bobby Brown. It's hard to choose just one iconic moment. The character herself became an almost instant popculture icon.

15. Quicksilver saves everyone (X-Men: Apocalypse)

It's no secret that X-Men: Apocalypse is one of the lesser loved movies from the Fox X-Men franchise. However, Apocalypse did give fans at least one awesome moment.

Arriving in search of his long-lost Father, Magneto, Quicksilver finds Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters about to explode. What follows is a humorous slow-motion sequence of Quicksilver, gifted with super-speed, rescuing the many residents of the School, including a dog and a goldfish, in the seconds before it completely explodes, all set to the tune of 'Sweet Dreams Are Made Of this'.

It is due to scenes like this that fans believe Quicksilver is one of the few examples of a character being better used outside of the MCU than he was within it.

16. Dormammu, I have come to bargain! (Doctor Strange)

As the first movie to begin exploring the more mystical side of the Marvel universe, Doctor Strange was another risk for Marvel Studios. However, like Guardians Of The Galaxy, Doctor Strange became a hit, praised for its performances, and impressive digital effects.

Towards the end of the film, when all hope seems lost, Doctor Steven Strange forms a cunning plan to defeat the monstrous Dormammu. He traps both himself and Dormammu in a time loop, eternally bargaining for Earth's fate. Strange only agrees to break the loop if Dormammu will leave Earth for good.

Aside from inspiring many memes, the scene is memorable for being the moment in which Strange fully sets aside his own selfish desires to become a true hero.

17. The birth of Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad)

While a success at the box office, Suicide Squad suffered with critics. Though most agreed it was an improvement over earlier DCEU entries, the film was plagued with issues. Despite the weaknesses, there were a few strong points.

For the most part, both critics and fans loved Margot Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn. The flashback scene detailing how Dr. Harleen Quinzel became Harley Quinn is both immersive and chilling.

18. Baby Groot (Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2)

Though the original Groot is killed in the first Guardians Of The Galaxy film, a brand new Baby Groot sprouts from a twig salvaged by Rocket Raccoon. While the sprout is cute from the start, he's become even cuter by the time the plot of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 begins.

The original plan was for Groot to be full grown again in Vol.2. Keeping him as a baby was a decision made later in the writing process. It's a little scary how close we came to missing out on Baby Groot's cuteness.

19. Diana crosses No-Man's Land (Wonder Woman)

As the DCEU's first film to focus on a female hero, some saw Wonder Woman as a risky move. But Wonder Woman is already a legend, and the movie was a hit with critics and fans alike.

After learning the plight of those left behind in the small town of Veld, Diana Prince believes something must be done to help them. Unfortunately, Veld is on the other side of No Man's Land. Diana's allies believe the situation is hopeless, but Diana dons her Themysciran armour and attempts the crossing anyway. Miraculously, she makes it, going on to free the people of Veld. This is the moment in which Diana truly becomes Wonder Woman.

20. The birth of the Thirteenth Doctor (Doctor Who)

When Peter Capaldi announced his departure from Doctor Who, there was, understandably, lots of talk about who would replace him. Quite a few names were suggested, including Kris Marshall, and Sacha Dhawan, who later became the newest incarnation of The Doctor's Best Frenemy, The Master. Many sources expressed the opinion that it was time for a woman to take the role, though few believed it would actually happen yet. So, it came as a pleasant surprise when actress Jodie Whittaker was announced as the Thirteenth Doctor.

In the closing scene of the 2017 Christmas Special, 'Twice Upon A Time', the dying Twelfth Doctor delivers a speech offering advice to his future self, before regenerating into Whittaker's Thirteenth Doctor.

"Oh, brilliant!"- The Thirteenth Doctor.

While some fans feared how the change would affect the show, they needn't have worried. Though the writing for Thirteen's episodes has been a bit hit and miss so far, Whittaker's performance can't be faulted. She is The Doctor.

21. 'He's a friend from work!" (Thor: Ragnarok)

Many fans credit Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi, was credited for breathing new life into the Mighty Avenger. The new direction was praised by fans and critics.

After being captured and forced to participate in the Grand Master's gladiator-style 'Games', Thor is elated to find himself facing off against his fellow Avenger, The Hulk, uttering one of the film's most memorable lines.

"He's a friend from work!"

Interestingly, the line was not originally in the script. It was suggested to Chris Hemsworth by a boy visiting the set with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

22. Black Panther is nominated for Best Picture.

Black Panther, the first MCU film to star an African-American hero, was a smash hit upon it's release in 2018. It broke multiple records, including highest grossing film by a Black director, and highest grossing superhero solo film. It continued to break new ground when it received a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars, the first comic book film to receive such an honour.

Most fans were pleased to see Black Panther nominated, seeing it as a good step towards improving the reputation of comic book movies in the wider film industry. While it didn't win the big one, Black Panther did take home three other Oscars for Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and best Production Design.

23. Miles Morales takes a leap of faith (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse)

Late in 2018, Sony released Into The Spider-Verse, the first animated Spider-Man film. The film was loved by fans and critics alike, praised for both its story and unique visuals. Some have declared it as one of the greatest animated films of all-time.

With Miles Morales, the newest Spider-Man, still struggling to master his new abilities, his fellow Spider-people set off to save the world without him. Desperate to know when he will be ready to be Spider-Man, Miles receives a piece of advice from his mentor, Peter B. Parker:

"It's a leap of faith."

In the film's most memorable sequence, Miles takes his leap, truly becoming Spider-Man for the first time. The 'leap of faith' sequence was used in Into The Spider-Verse's first trailer, but nobody knew just how important it would be to the final film.

24. The Snap (Avengers: Infinity War)

Ten years worth of MCU storytelling came to a head in Avengers: Infinity War. Still divided after the events of Civil War, the Avengers fight on multiple fronts to keep Thanos from obtaining the powerful Infinity Stones.

However, in a twist that shocked many (particularly those without knowledge 0f the comics), Thanos wins, a simple snap of his fingers erasing half the Universe, including some of Marvel's greatest heroes. Fans had to wait nearly a year to see the storyline resolved in Avengers: Endgame.

25. Cap is worthy (Avengers: Endgame)

Avengers: Age Of Ultron features a scene where, while celebrating a victory over Hydra, the Avengers take turns trying to pick up Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Steve Rogers seems to shift the hammer slightly, distressing Thor, but doesn't pick it up. The moment sparked many fan theories, but we didn't see a true pay-off until Avengers: Endgame arrived four years later.

With Thor stuck at Thanos's mercy, we see Mjolnir move, but it is not Thor who summoned the hammer, but Cap. Thor happily declares:

"I knew it!"

Theatres everywhere erupted in cheers when this moment occurred.

26. Arya Stark kills the Night King (Game Of Thrones)

The final season of Game Of Thrones gets off to an interesting start, with nearly all of the show's major characters gathering at Winterfell for the upcoming battle against the Night King and his army of the dead. The battle arrives in episode three, 'The Long Night'.

While Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Theon Greyjoy make valiant attempts to end the villain, Arya Stark ultimately gets the kill, arriving just in time to save her brother Bran. It is a moment with awesome pay off, as Arya utilises nearly every skill she learned throughout the series to get the job done.

27. Portals (Avengers: Endgame)

The main goal of the surviving Avengers in Endgame is to revive all those lost after Thanos's snap, called 'The Decimation' in-universe. While The Hulk performs a Decimation-reversing snap when after The Avengers gather the stones, it is not immediately clear whether it worked.

Right when all hope seems lost, Cap standing alone against Thanos's army as his teammates lay injured elsewhere, hundreds of portals open across the battlefield, as the previously decimated heroes arrive to help. Cap's next line says it all.

"Avengers.. Assemble!"

28. Scarlet Witch takes on Thanos (Avengers: Endgame)

One of the most heartbreaking moments of Avengers: Infinity War is the scene in which Wanda Maximoff is forced to kill Vision, the man she loves, to keep Thanos from obtaining the Mind Stone in Vision's head. Tragically, she is then forced to watch Vision be killed again when Thanos simply rewinds time.

In Endgame, Wanda gets her revenge as she intercepts Thanos on the battlefield, besting him in a fight before beginning to tear off his armour. Only Thanos desperately ordering a missile strike stops her from delivering a killing blow.

This scene has become even more important with Kevin Feige's statement that Wanda Maximoff, soon to officially become the Scarlet Witch, is one of the most powerful Avengers.

29. 'I Am Iron Man' (Avengers: Endgame)

Iron Man was the hero who began the MCU, so it is only fitting that he was the one to strike the winning blow in the Avengers' greatest battle yet. Sadly, it came at the cost of his own life.

After managing to swipe the Infinity Stones from Thanos, Tony Stark performs his own snap, killing Thanos and his army.

"And I.. Am.. Iron Man."

Sadly, the power of the Stones is too much for a human body, and Tony passes away soon after.

30. Baby Yoda

Just when we thought the decade was done giving us icons, in toddles The Child, more commonly known as Baby Yoda. Ever since his first appearance in the closing scene of The Mandalorian's first episode, Baby Yoda has won fans all over the internet.

With season two of The Mandalorian confirmed, this cute little guy isn't going away anytime soon.

Here's to another decade of great popculture moments!

entertainment
Kristy Anderson
Kristy Anderson
Read next: Best Customizable Games
Kristy Anderson

Passionate About all things Entertainment!

See all posts by Kristy Anderson