Movies + TV

Move Over, Zombies . . . Charting the Course of Pop Culture's Oversaturated Characters

Who will take over as most oversaturated character? Is it the season of the witch? Could pirates sail off with the prize? We charted their courses through pop-cultural history.

When Pirates of the Caribbean became a hit in 2003, it broke a curse that's plagued swashbucklers since Errol Flynn's The Sea Hawk in 1940. Soon after, shirtless vampires reigned, only to jump the shark a few years later. With Starz' Black Sails and NBC's Crossbones on the horizon, we wonder: Are pirates the new bloodsuckers? Has American Horror Story: Coven rekindled our love of witch kitsch? And can either unseat those hard-to-kill undead?

1985: George A. Romero wraps his original Trilogy of the Dead with Day of the Dead.
1994: Italy's Cemetery Man is DOA Stateside.
2002: 28 Days Later makes over $80 million worldwide.
2004: Critics love horror parody Shaun of the Dead.
2010: AMC's The Walking Dead rises.
2013: World War Z is an unexpected box-office hit.

1987: The Witches of Eastwick conjures comedy gold.
1996: Cult-classic-to-be The Craft inspires a generation of sexy witch costumes.
2001: Harry Potter launches the highest-grossing movie franchise ever.
2005: Bewitched, the movie, fails to charm.
2009: ABC's Eastwick stars . . . we can't remember.
2013: American Horror Story: Coven cements Ryan Murphy's status as king of camp.

1986: The curse claims Polanski's Pirates.
1991: Dustin Hoffman captains the cast of Hook.
1995: Rom-com disaster Cutthroat Island.
2003: Pirates of the Caribbean.
2007: Mark Burnett's Pirate Master sinks.
2014: John Malkovich gets a beard for Crossbones.
Executive producer Michael Bay gets all historical with Black Sails.

—Laura Bolt

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