Like porn, Internet Boyfriends are hard to define — but also like porn, you know them when you see them. And 2018 was downright lousy with them.
Some were fresh faces we’d never encountered before. (Well, most of us. We see you, Lady Who’s Been Crushing On Winston Duke Since Person of Interest.) Others were guys we’d known about for years, but started seeing in a whole new light. And still more were dudes we already loved, but somehow came to love even more within the past 12 months.
What unites them is the way they brought so many of us together in 2018. These guys weren’t just our crushes, they were everyone’s crushes, and we collectively got personally invested in a way we don’t for just any pretty, famous face.
We retweeted their photoshoots, pored over their photos, traded idle fantasies about what it’d be like to date them. Since it was a collective project, we couldn’t escape them even if we wanted to, and we didn’t want to. (Not coincidentally, Internet Boyfriend-ness tends to peak when they’re promoting a project.)
If the internet had lockers, these fellas would’ve been taped up in every single one of them. If the internet had desks, their initials would be carved into them. The internet has neither of those things, but what we do have are year-end listicles. So here they are: our Internet Boyfriends of 2018.
We saw him in: The Olympics, Dancing With the Stars.
We applauded when: He called out Mike Pence.
Figure skater Adam Rippon was one of the biggest stories of one of 2018’s biggest events, and deservedly so. As the first openly gay man ever to compete for Team USA at the Olympics, he was an inspiration to many.
But what really won us over was his, well, Adam-ness: his dazzling style on the ice, his irrepresible presence off of it. There’s something so appealing about a guy who’s unapologetically himself, and and no one seems more comfortable in his own skin than Rippon.
Where we’ll see him next: Unclear, but he definitely wants to stay famous.
We saw him in: Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
The moment we fell in love: “We are vegetarians.”
Imagine how hot and charming you’d have to be to stand out in an ensemble that also includes Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, and Daniel Kaluuya. Winston Duke is that hot and charming. We walked into Black Panther never having heard of the guy, and walked out knowing we’d never forget his name.
It’s not just that he’s super tall and built like [gestures wildly at all of that]. It’s that this dude’s got layers. As M’Baku, he’s fierce and funny and fearless; as Duke, he radiates intelligence and sensitivity. In other words, he’s the walking, talking embodiment of “get you a man who can do both.” And you know what? We think we will.
Where we’ll see him next: Jordan Peele’s Us with Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong’o, then Avengers: Endgame with all the other Marvelites.
We saw him in: Barry, and we heard him in Ralph Breaks the Internet.
His big transformative scene: Gene Costineau wasn’t the only one impressed by that monologue in the Barry premiere.
We knew and loved Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live, of course. But it wasn’t until Barry that he started inspiring headlines like “Bill Hader Is Totally Kind of Hot” and “Bill Hader Is a Babe and It’s Time We Recognized This” and “I’m Watching Barry for Bill Hader’s Hot Face Muscle.”
Yep, turns out when he’s not distorting his face for laughs, Hader is pretty dang handsome. Beyond that, though, Barry was the ideal showcase for his many gifts: He does comedy and drama, he writes and directs as well as acts. We can’t wait to see what new sides he’ll show us next.
Where we’ll see him next: More Barry, plus It: Chapter 2 as the older version of Stranger Things‘ Finn Wolfhard.
We saw him in: A Quiet Place, Amazon’s Jack Ryan, the Mary Poppins Returns press tour for his wife.
His most winning quality: His enduring love of Emily Blunt, a woman who is not us.
The Office‘s Jim Halpert was practically an Internet Boyfriend before Internet Boyfriends were even a thing, but 2018 was the year John Krasinski evolved into a different kind of Internet Boyfriend. Specifically, the Hot Dad kind. There he was in his dystopian knitwear and his fugitive beard, protecting his family against literal monsters at the end of the world. We die.
And hey, the fact that he spent all of the Quiet Place and Mary Poppins Returns press tours gushing about his beautiful wife didn’t hurt matters, either. Actually, forget Internet Boyfriend — 2018 Krasinski was total Internet Husband material.
Where you’ll see him next: You can see more of him right now in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.
We saw him in: Avengers: Infinity War, plus Broadway’s Lobby Hero if you were lucky enough to get tickets.
The best thing he did in 2018: That glorious face-mane.
We went back and forth with this one, because Chris Evans has been too big for too long to be a proper Internet Boyfriend. But he is on the list this year for one reason and one reason only: his Infinity War beard.
It turned squeaky-clean Captain America into something else entirely, and made us all the more horrified at the prospect of losing him in the not-too-distant future. Honestly, of all the things Thanos took in Infinity War, we might miss Beard the most.
Where we’ll see him next: Avengers: Endgame (😢), Rian Johnson’s Knives Out.
We saw him in: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Atlanta: Robbin’ Season, a bunch of Childish Gambino stuff. Dude’s been busy!
But the real highlight was: The music video for “This Is America.”
Donald Glover has always been adorable and brilliant. In 2018, though, he was sexy.
He spent the entire Solo: A Star Wars Story press tour basically being Lando Calrissian, which is to say suave enough to pull off lines like “Buckle up, baby.” He danced around shirtless in “This Is America,” and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t notice how good he looked while he tackled serious issues with serious art. He blew our minds again and again in Atlanta: Robbin’ Season, and became the talk of the Emmys thanks to Teddy Perkins.
In short, this guy knew not only how to grab our attention, but what to do with it once he had it. If only more non-internet boyfriends were half this interesting.
Where we’ll see him next: Whatever Guava Island turns out to be. Also, he’s Simba in The Lion King.
We saw him in: Set It Up and Saturday Night Live, but mostly Ariana Grande-related pap shots and social media posts.
His defining moment: BDE.
Until 2018, Pete Davidson was just that cute young guy on SNL. But a certain whirlwind romance raised his profile, which consequently made a whole lot of people look up, lean in, and wonder just what it was about this dude.
The answer? It’s his Big Dick Energy. Which is not really about having a big dick at all (though his then-fiancée had some nice things to say on that front), but about projecting a low-key kind of confidence. Davidson’s 2018 wasn’t all smooth sailing, for sure — but it did make him the face of BDE, and there are worse ways to spend a year.
Where we’ll see him next: More SNL; the gender-swapped What Women Want reboot What Men Want; the Sundance comedy Big Time Adolescence.
We saw him in: Set It Up, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
He’s a keeper because: He knows how to lose gracefully.
Before Peter Kavinsky, there was Charlie. Set It Up (and later Guernsey) turned Glen Powell, previously known as John Glenn in Hidden Figures and the “average-sized dick” guy in Everybody Wants Some!!, into a romantic lead, and he took to it like a duck to water.
He’s got a grin to make anyone grin back, a warmth that sparks chemistry with basically anyone, and to top it all off, he just… seems like a really nice guy. The kind of guy you can take out with your friends, bring home to your parents, and introduce to your boss.
Where we’ll see him next: Top Gun: Maverick.
We saw him in: Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor.
Which one was he hotter in? The one where he wasn’t a maybe-murderer.
Crazy Rich Asians called for a male lead dashing enough to be a modern Prince Charming, but cuddly enough to seem like actual boyfriend material. They found that in Henry Golding, a model and TV host who’d never acted in a movie before — not that you’d know it from his work this year.
He looked great in suits, and even better out of them. He made us sigh with adoration in Crazy Rich Asians, and bite our lips with lust in A Simple Favor. He made out with Constance Wu, Blake Lively, and Anna Kendrick over the course of several months, and we weren’t sure if we wanted to be with him or just be him. Actually, we’re still not sure. We just know we’ll follow this guy anywhere he goes.
Where we’ll see him next: Paul Feig’s Last Christmas, with his Crazy Rich Asians co-star Michelle Yeoh; Guy Ritchie’s Toff Guys.
We saw him in: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.
He cinched his Internet Boyfriend-dom when: He improvised that popcorn save.
Peter Kavinsky is the guy you hope every single crush you’ve ever had will turn out to be, but never actually does. Noah Centineo is the actor who is smart enough to know why you like his character so much, and savvy enough to lean into it.
Most Internet Boyfriends get shy about embracing their roles, and we can’t say we blame them — it does seem terribly awkward to realize millions of strangers are drawing hearts around your name. Centineo, though, leaned right into it, unspooling a series of cheeseball social media posts just as we were all swooning after To All the Boys. Thank you, Centineo, for indulging us.
What we’ll see him in next: Charlie’s Angels (yes, they’re making another one).