In just a few days, the Twilight series will mark the end of an era: There will be no more new material put out into the world for fans to consume, the whole story will have been told. (That is, unless Stephenie Meyer goes ahead with the Jacob/Renesmee book.) Harry Potter hit this point last year, and by 2014 The Hunger Games will have, too. These series all have a clear shelf life (heh), and yet the beauty of fandom is that they’ll still love the books and movies long after the authors and actors have moved on to new projects.
But which of these franchises has the most staying power? Will they eventually be abandoned to collect cobwebs, nostalgic treasures that no one ever cares about? Or will kids still be cosplaying wizards, vampires, and tributes after we colonize the moon? Using super-scientific methods gleaned from our observations on the various fandoms, plus our individual love for and issues with each series, we’ve tallied up the numbers and chosen a winner.
Age Range of Fans: The biggest argument I hear for certain subsets of people not being fans of Harry Potter is that they simply weren’t the right age for it. My generation grew up with the books, but our older peers found the first few too childish, and our younger siblings/friends started too far into the series to really develop an emotional attachment. By contrast, part of the original Twilight phenomenon was that soccer moms were reading the same books as their kids (and crushing on the same heroes). I don’t think we can quite nail down a demographic for The Hunger Games yet; sure, it’s varied, but not guaranteed. Winner: Twilight
Stories Left to Tell Through Fanfiction: It’s difficult to go just by the numbers, since sites like Archive of Our Own and LiveJournal have replaced Fanfiction.net for being the most reliable archives. And yet, it was also one of the original havens, and the numbers are impressive, so we’ll include them here. Being the youngest fandom of the three, The Hunger Games (26,582 stories on Ff.n) likely attracts the largest number of new fans itching to write the untold stories from the novels. With the Fifty Shades of Grey shitshow and other fics being published, I’d say thatTwilight (202,746) fanfiction is pretty played out. Harry Potter (618,191) is still the reigning champion in numbers, but are people just retreading worn ground by now? Winner: The Hunger Games
GIFs on Tumblr: I imagine that someday there will be proper criteria in place to evaluate GIFs from different fandoms, but all I can do here is weigh the strengths of each. Twilight GIFs are so ridiculous that they’re infinitely usable as reaction shots or great descriptions of your mood at a certain moment. Because a lot of the Harry Potter GIFs start out so innocent/young, they’re the most ironic and equally silly. But there are also a few that tug at your heartstrings. However, The Hunger Games has the highest incidence of dramatic GIFs, though individual actors have inspired some truly WTF ones. Winner: All of them!
Costumes: Assuming that fans will be dressing up as these characters for Halloween and/or cosplaying at conventions, we’ve got to take into account who you most want to look like. Twilight is out because it’s just Hot Topic crap. I’m tempted to give it to dystopian fashions, but if you think about it, they’re the same in every movie. Nothing matches the wizard robes, color-coordinated scarves, and wands that we immediately associate with just one series. Winner: Harry Potter
What Society Thinks of the Author: The clear winner is J.K. Rowling, because she has the best rags-to-riches story. Hell, we’ll read stuff likeThe Casual Vacancy just to experience new writing from her! Do I need to even address the others? OK, I will. Suzanne Collins is well respected for coming up with the dystopian world of Panem, but no one really knows anything about her. I’ll be curious to see if she becomes more of a public figure once Catching Fire comes out. And of course, it’s so easy to project all of our derision onto Stephenie Meyer even as we love reading her books. Winner: Harry Potter
How the Fandom Responds to the Actors: With more YA series becoming movie franchises, this is an important factor to take into consideration. The Twilight cast seems checked out, from the Robert Pattinson/Kristen Stewart drama to folks like Ashley Greene setting up countless new projects. The Harry Potter kids regard their series more tenderly, but they have to separate themselves from it since they grew up with it and need to experience something else now. The Hunger Games has Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, ’nuff said. Winner: The Hunger Games
Ability to Pass on to Our Kids: Here’s the real challenge, making these books accessible for the next generation(s). The Hunger Games‘ reality TV commentary is incisive, but it probably won’t resonate as much with our kids because they’ll have grown up in a world where it’s all they know, whereas we remember a time before reality programming. Twilight will be so awkward to pass on to our kids, because how do you tell them that the reason everyone loved it was because it was about sex? Honestly, it’s difficult to adequately explain the appeal of it now. But Harry Potter is a classic, timeless tale. And because there will be some distance from the franchise, the kids will be able to grow up with the books and movies at their own pace. Winner: Harry Potter
There are probably other factors, but these were the most pressing, in my mind. Looking at all the evidence, here’s how I would rank each series’ chances for staying power:
1st place: Harry Potter
2nd place: The Hunger Games
3rd place: Twilight
Agree? Disagree? Take it to the comments!