If there’s one thing you should know about us, it’s that we’re down bad for the Brits. And, in what could be our journalistic opus, we’re here to rank the best of the best.
This is obviously an incomplete list, but if we tried to do this ranking without some limits we might never publish it — there’s simply too many boyfriends out there, and y’all are really passionate about some rather obscure men. It’s important to note, as well, that we only looked at men from England, Wales, and Scotland, and we tried to acknowledge the celebs that pop up on our feeds the most or are current Hollywood standouts. We also have a bias for the One Direction / Skins / Harry Potter era of British men. So if Tumblr raised you, this list might resonate.
Anwar, Posh Kenneth, and Tony hive rise.
Credit: Mike Marsland / Getty Images
We took a scientific approach to this ranking, polling a diverse group of celebrity boyfriend lovers. Common responses to the question, “What makes an ideal internet boyfriend?” include a lack of controversy, an aloof internet presence, and the willingness to feed into fan delusion. Not knowing a lot about their private life was also important.
Here are the four main criteria we gathered from our research:
1. Internet reputation
What’s the boyfriend’s relationship to social media? Are they active on their personal accounts? Are they cringe? Are they offline in a mysterious way, or are they in on the memes? And how do us normies on the internet talk about them? Most importantly, how did Tumblr feel about them?
2. Homegrown hotness
In order to become an internet boyfriend you have to be a particular kind of hot. The kind that feels personal and isn’t served to you on a silver platter. For the boyfriends who score high in homegrown hotness, their attractiveness was discovered by fans and not dictated by the media. Nostalgia is also a big aspect here. Were they responsible for your sexual awakening? Did that result in you imprinting on them for eternity? If we’ve seen them age, and age well, then they’re probably higher on the list.
3. Freak factor
This is key to being an internet boyfriend. The best celeb men have a certain je ne sais quoi about them, which we define as the “freak factor.” This might present in their personal lives, the roles they choose, or their demeanor in interviews, but no matter what there’s something a little bit off about them. In a hot way.
These are not fleeting crushes. They were hot, they are hot, they will always be hot. It helps if they’ve got a robust career or are in a franchise that’ll help them remain in the internet’s consciousness.
Enough rambling, scroll on for our list of British standouts.
18. Kit Harington / Richard Madden
Defining boyfriend moment: Game of Thrones
Are you about to cry or just happy to see me?
Credit: Jeff Spicer / Getty Images
The Madden-ification of Marvel.
Credit: Samir Hussein / WireImage
Attention Internet: these are not the same men! But, because of the widespread belief that Harington and Madden both look alike and have eerily similar careers, we’ve put them in the same spot. We might be throwing the Game of Thrones people a bone with this one, but these buddies popped up in numerous boyfriend searches. The doppelgängers do rank high on longevity for their ability to sneak into two of the franchises with some of the horniest fanbases. Their internet presence is fine, with Madden often trending for his red carpet outfits and Harington sneaking charm into interviews, but really their fans are doing most of the work. After struggling to differentiate between these men in Eternals, we’ve come to the realization that Richard Madden is a hottie, but a YouTube comment saying Kit Harington looks like he’s always on the verge of tears has thrown us.
17. Henry Golding
Defining boyfriend moment: Crazy Rich Asians
Wait until you see him holding his baby…
Credit: RB / Bauer-Griffin / GC Images
Golding is new on the scene, so we can’t give him a high longevity score. His hotness isn’t that homegrown either — he knows he’s hot, the media knows he’s hot, fans know he’s hot. But we can’t deny how charming his Instagram presence is (ignore the crypto NFT profile pic), and he really had a chokehold on the internet when Crazy Rich Asians dropped. We just wish this extremely beautiful man was a little bit freakier.
16. Benedict Cumberbatch
Defining boyfriend moment: Johnlock
A delicious breakfast isn’t complete without some eggs Benedict.
Credit: Samir Hussein / WireImage
Cumberbatch has led fandoms for well over a decade, first capturing the attention of the SuperWhoLock Tumblr contingent in his role as detective Sherlock Holmes on BBC’s Sherlock. He was, obviously, shipped with his famed partner John Watson, and you’ll still find fan fiction and fan art all over Twitter and Tumblr. His devoted fanbase, called “Cumberbitches,” loved his weird vibe and led his homegrown hotness campaign —however, we’re uncertain if it was successful. Without the strength of the actor’s devoted fans, Cumberbatch’s internet presence isn’t as strong as others, but, as an Academy Award nominee and Marvel star, he’s definitely sticking around.
15. Idris Elba
Defining boyfriend moment: “We can go drivin’ in, on my scooter” (He’s been around forever, we can’t name just one)
They say home is where the heart is, but God, we love the English!
Credit: RB / Bauer-Griffin / GC Images
Hello, it’s Idris Elba. It feels like he was here before the internet, and he will remain long after. While we’ve watched Elba work his way up into leading roles for decades, he’s always been The Hot Guy on our screens. Luther? The Hot Guy. Heimdall? The Hotter Guy. He was even named People‘s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018, so he’s not a high homegrown hotness scorer. There is something freaky about him, though — maybe it’s the fact that he has a side gig as a DJ that landed him a spot at the Royal Wedding and Coachella? Elba’s also really active online. While this could be a turn off, his internet presence is kind of endearing.
14. Sam Claflin
Defining boyfriend moment: Finnick Odair
And when he sings songs written by Phoebe Bridgers? Then what.
Credit: Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic
Sam Claflin is sticking around, baby! He had his moment in the Hunger Games franchise (RIP), and he continues to have his moment as a leading romance book adaptation man and action star. As a king of the romance genre, we can’t exactly call Claflin homegrown. C’mon, his breakout role was the canonically hottest guy in the YA genre, Finnick Odair. Because of this, Claflin is also too hot to be a weirdo, with only a carefully orchestrated freak factor (see his BuzzFeed thirst tweets video). And Sam’s Instagram is both a gem and a horror — the sheer amount of selfies is startling, but he’s so hot it doesn’t really matter. Like, look at him.
While you may be thinking that Claflin has fallen off, he’s starring in Hulu’s adaptation of BookTok’s beloved Daisy Jones & the Six, and we know how the girls react to a book adaptation man, so anticipate a new wave of off-the-charts thirst for Claflin.
13. Rahul Kohli
Defining boyfriend moment: The glasses and ‘stache in Bly Manor
Get him his own talk show, stat!
Credit: Mike Coppola / Getty Images
If you don’t know Rahul Kohli, that’s a problem. Go pick up a remote or head over to Netflix and fix it. Kohli is a rising star and Netflix darling, who’s gathered a devoted fanbase from his roles in iZombie, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass. His homegrown hotness potential is evident, but he hasn’t quite broken out yet. He’s down to clown on just about every social media platform, and Kohli also scores high on the freak factor, if his robust Twitter presence has anything to say about it — go check out all his memes, thirst traps, and posts about his many hobbies. What really tips the scale in Kohli’s favor is how normal and honest he seems online. Immaculate.
12. Tom Hiddleston
Defining boyfriend moment: “I love TS” shirt
You were drivin’ the getaway car.
Credit: Jeff Spicer / Getty Images
You can’t have a list of British internet boyfriends without the reigning fan edit king, Tom Hiddleston — this one’s for you, Loki stans. He scores highest in homegrown hotness because the man is not as conventionally attractive as some of the others on this list, but the combination of Loki fan works and Taylor Swift’s approval have somehow managed to make him hot in the internet’s eye. According to Tumblr, this man’s freak factor is immense (we saw all of those edits of Loki kneeling in his collar), but he still has to prove it in his own time. Of course, the internet is madly in love with him, so that helps his reputation score — and he doesn’t have the worst personal social media accounts we’ve seen here.
11. John Boyega
Defining boyfriend moment: Finnpoe
He really did look good in that jacket. *bites lip*
Credit: Tristan Fewings / Getty Images
John Boyega stole our hearts as the number one fan of his own Star Wars ship, Finnpoe, and kept our hearts as he waged his own battle against the industry’s racism. His longevity score is lower than others, as Boyega’s been battling the repercussions of his outspoken online presence ever since, but we’re hoping for some more screen time. He scores really well in homegrown hotness, with fans latching onto his cult-classic characters and thirsting after Finn even when the franchise tried to make us forget the character’s potential. He’s been on and off social media, but really set the standard with his outspoken activism, although his current posting on Instagram can be a little cringey and loses him some points.
10. Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Defining boyfriend moment: Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging
Hold my hand, you muppet.
Credit: Michael Tran / FilmMagic
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a certified Tumblr bae. His resume is pretty stacked, and ATJ-heads have lived through every phase including the awkward, the indie, and the blockbuster. His best role? Robbie, the dreamy boy bander in British teen comedy Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging. If you’ve seen him with those bangs and you still stan, that’s telling. While he’s pretty much off of social media, the internet just can’t let him go. They love him, and they thirst after him. Amen. He’s got decent freak energy, too, which we write as we rewatch his James Corden bit with Harry Styles. We’re absolutely gagging for his role in Bullet Train, and if we were ranking this list based on the number of existing GIF sets for these men, he’s a winner.
Bonus: Taylor-Johnson also has the true signifier of a British internet boyfriend — he’s been fancast as a Marauder, the cast of Harry Potter characters centered around Harry’s dad and his Hogwarts friends. Who is Taylor-Johnson, you might ask? Harry’s dad himself!
9. Ben Barnes
Defining boyfriend moment: Young Sirius Black fancast
Credit: Michael Tran / FilmMagic / Getty Images
The girls who get it, get it. Ben Barnes is secretly the best boyfriend on this list, and if we were feeling really bold he would be in the top 3 because of his grip on fandoms near and far. That’s a role he takes Sirius-ly. Barnes is in the trenches of the fandom shippers. He’s out there sharing fan art and being outspoken about knowing he’s the people’s Sirius Black (ie. Remus Lupin’s boyfriend in the internet’s Harry Potter headcanon). He’s down to clown, and we love him for it! This increases his homegrown hotness score tenfold, and we can’t forget watching him as Prince Caspian (talk about sexual awakening). Barnes’ career is also way more lustrous than you probably think — he’s been in huge properties, including Marvel’s Punisher, Westworld, and new YA favorite Shadow and Bone.
A quick scroll through his social pages, and you’ll find that Barnes has interacted, or is besties with, nearly every other member of this list (and some other British favorites that didn’t even make the cut). That’s an impressive feat, and kind of means that he’s the boyfriend of the boyfriends? We can’t argue with that data. Ben Barnes forever.
8. Nicholas Hoult
Defining boyfriend moment: Tony from Skins
We’re sorry, but he was kinda hot in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Credit: Michael Tran / AFP via Getty Images
Hoult is an OG internet boyfriend thanks to his role as the resident hottie on the iconic British television show Skins — we were around to witness Hoult’s hold on Tumblr in 2007. He’s has been in everything from zombie romance Warm Bodies to Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favorite. Lately, Hoult has been slaying as Emperor Peter II in Hulu’s The Great. Needless to say he’s got range and longevity.
If you watch him in anything, his freak factor is immediately evident. He takes only the most eccentric roles and acts the shit out of them. Similar to Tom Hiddleston, his hotness has grown from a devoted fan cultivation, which has aged along with him. He practically invented a category of hotness which we can only describe as an “Asa Butterfield-type beat.” He’s online pretty frequently, but in a non-threatening and non-cringey kind of way. In fact, he’s kind of funny? His Instagram is a delightful little treat.
There’s something innately hot about a person this talented just being a nice weirdo — it helps that he posts surprisingly hot pics now and then and is still best friends with his former Skins co-stars. Check out his virtual scrapbook of Daniel Kaluuya pics on the ‘Gram.
7. Tom Holland
Defining boyfriend moment: “Umbrella” lip sync
The internet is definitely caught in Tom’s web.
Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer / WireImage
He is Zendaya’s boyfriend first, the internet’s second.
Holland is young but already solidifying a huge movie career — do we even need to list his current IMDB credits? His homegrown hotness comes from being a child actor (boo tomato, tomato, we’re throwing tomatoes), but somewhere along the way, baby-faced Holland grew into “a man.” We’re not sure when it happened (cough Zendaya cough), but audiences sure did feel things in those shirtless Spiderman scenes. His freak factor is painfully low. He’s essentially normie Timothée Chalamet. Instead, Holland exudes a naïve charm, especially in press interviews. This might push him to the number one for some of y’all, but not us. What does get him points is his past as a dancer and acrobat. Do more of those pirouettes, ya little weirdo!
Holland is Very Online, which could totally be a turn off. However, he makes it work because he’s young. We will never forget the dancing videos he posted with his future girlfriend or the chemically altering photos captured of Zendaya gripping his waist. The way he looks at her is absolutely swoon-worthy.
6. Alfred Enoch
Defining boyfriend moment: Dean Thomas cuteness
We would absolutely help him get away with murder.
Credit: tefanie Keenan / Getty Images for GQ
The perfect man doesn’t exi —
Alfie Enoch enters the room.
Where to begin? This list wouldn’t be complete without one Harry Potter alum, and we’ve chosen the best and the hottest. Enoch will always be relevant. When he’s not over in Shondaland, you can find him slaying on the theatrical stage — a career as diverse as they come.
You might have been reminded of your love for Dean Thomas in the recent Harry Potter 20th anniversary reunion special. Enoch absolutely stole the show. His homegrown hotness on full display, Enoch reminded us why we picked him out from the large cast of secondary Harry Potter characters.
Does he have a freak factor? Who are we to say? That’s his personal business, and if he wants to show us then we’re down. His lack of social media presence makes him alluring. All you get are sparse clips, fan meet-cutes on the streets of London (feeding into the y/n delusion left and right), occasional pics of him at protests, and (so many) videos of him speaking Portuguese. Did you know he’s also Brazilian?
5. Daniel Kaluuya
Defining boyfriend moment: Chicken Shop Date
We wish we were that Oscar…
Credit: Chris Pizzello-Pool / Getty Images
Daniel, Daniel, Daniel… We are on our knees for you. We warned you, reader, that there’d be ample Skins representation! Kaluuya was one of the head staff writers for the show and played Posh Kenneth. Obviously, he’s now a recognized, Oscar-winning movie star with the perfect list of film credits that grace many Letterboxd Top 4’s. So the man has LONGEVITY. And anyone who was thinking up Skins storylines has a mind we want to dive into.
Revisiting his early roles, the “boy next door turned intelligent and charming hottie” energy is present and accounted for. Online, Kaluuya keeps very private and is famous and well-respected without buying into the celebrity of it all, something our initial polls found essential.
Kaluuya has minimal social engagement himself, but straight-up seduces during an interview, which leads to numerous quotable moments and internet love. He oozes charisma and charm, and we could watch him talk for hours. He’s picked for dream cast lists constantly, as the internet patiently waits for his inevitable rom-com debut. We’re a little bit nervous about his new life coach and manager that just popped up on the scene, but didn’t we say something about a freak factor?
4. Harry Styles
Defining boyfriend moment: Eating an orange behind Rihanna at the VMAs
Baby, we’re perfect for you.
Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images for The Recording Academy
*DISCLAIMER: We are diehard One Direction / Harry Styles girls and cannot think about him objectively. We don’t know how he ended up number 4, and will be taking no questions at this time.
OK, we made it here. So that you can have a clearer picture, we are blushing while writing this. We’ve loved him from the X-Factor video diaries to tattoo roulette to the “Lights Up” music video, and now we’ve got “As It Was” on repeat (don’t even get us started on his Coachella set). Having been deeply connected to the man for the last 11 years, and around the same age, we’ve grown up with him more than any other internet boyfriend. Will he ever stop getting hot? Will we always feel this way upon casting our eyes on those shoulders or the infamous tiger thigh tattoo? He’s broken our hearts and stitched them back together time and time again. How many times will we be crushed by images of this man on a yacht?
Styles loses some points for his current internet presence and business ventures— most of his social accounts are solely for marketing purposes (we miss the good old days when he would post scrabble boards and personal events like his sister’s graduation). He’s never really in on the bit in the few interviews he does, but he sure does love a rehearsed dad joke. And we just couldn’t bring ourselves to put him higher on the list because, as much as he wants to be a freak, Styles drinks way too much green juice (not to mention his love of golfing and friendship with James Corden).
But, where Styles beats out all the other boyfriends, is his presence in real-person fan fiction (RPF if you will). This is not something to be taken lightly. Spanning a decade, the thousands of stories and related One Direction Imagines about him and his green orbs make him an internet icon.
3. Dev Patel
Defining boyfriend moment: Lion press tour
Queue a GIF of him looking bashful and pushing his luscious locks back.
Credit: Mike Marsland / WireImage
We love Dev! We love Dev!
Another celebrity that we’ve had the honor of watching grow up and just keep getting better and hotter every year. With his early role as Anwar in Skins, his break into blockbuster movies with Slumdog Millionaire, and his arthouse dive with The Green Knight, if we see his name on the cast list we know we’re going to fall down the Patel rabbit hole afterwards. We don’t need to talk about his role as Zuko in the live action Avatar: The Last Airbender film, other than to say he was the only redeeming part.
Perhaps his most crush-worthy role was in Modern Love, where he played a lovestruck dating app developer. We’ve watched it an unhealthy amount of times. We also saw him shine on his adorable Lion press tour with young co-star Sunny Panwar. Are you fucking kidding us with that smile?
Patel has no internet presence other than us fans screaming into the void about how perfect he is, and we don’t know much about his personal life, either. Allowing us to let our Patel freak flags fly online. His almost shocking earnestness when he does make a public appearance makes us believe his freak factor score is lower than others, but you never know…
Charming, handsome, humble, gorgeous, stunning. Universally beloved! We’ve never met someone who couldn’t resist this man’s genuine loveliness.
2. Andrew Garfield
Defining boyfriend moment: The Social Network, specifically: “Sorry, I forgot my Prada at the cleaners along with my hoodie and my fuck you flip flops, you pretentious douchebag.”
We are looking respectfully.
Credit: Mike Coppola / Getty Images
From seducing us with his emotive performance in The Social Network to being the sexy skateboarding Spiderman we had only dreamed of, Garfield has been at the forefront of pop culture moments. The two-time Oscar nominee’s career is long and varied, and he’s literally a triple threat: singing, dancing, and acting his way across stage and screen.
Garfield’s best sell is that he wears his emotions on his sleeve — it’s a quality you don’t find that often in Hollywood men. He’s not afraid to plant one on whatever Hollywood man he’s crushing on, and he expresses his affection for co-stars and idols alike. Those Spiderman: No Way Home behind-the-scene clips? We were smitten. His (frankly crass) love for Emma Stone is also simultaneously concerning and sexy. He literally handmade her a rocking chair…
Garfield’s always thoughtful and somewhat strange in interviews, leading us to bump up his Freak Factor score. He’s got a flair for making everything more existential than it needs to be, which designates him the most intellectual baddie on this list. For a taste of this side of him check out his Buzzfeed Thirst Tweets video. In it he reads, “I can’t believe Andrew Garfield invented being sexy.” To which he responds “I find it hard to believe, to the point of knowing that it’s not true. Who was it who invented being sexy? Like, when was sexy invented? I guess consciously, it would have to be a human, although I am sure before humans existed in the cosmos and on Earth there were forms of life…” Responding to a fan’s date request, Garfield says, “I like hyper-vigilance and specificity of plans.”
Garfield is a bit of an enigma when it comes to his internet presence. But we get the sense he knows his way around a meme. There’s a good chance he’s got a burner account, and he’s out there stalking all our fancams. It helps both his reputation and his hotness that we really only get to see him when he’s doing press tours — we chase after whatever bit of him we can get during a designated Andrew Cycle™.
Bonus: Garfield is yet another popular Marauders fancast, filling our every waking moment with thoughts of him as tortured werewolf Remus Lupin.
1. Robert Pattinson
Defining moment: His entire existence? Or maybe his GQ quarantine profile… we guess.
You’re going to listen to that egg in the prefect’s bathroom…without us?
Credit: Neil Mockford / GC Images
Our King of Kings, Boyfriend of all British Boyfriends, freak of all freaks, Robert Pattinson!
With a career that makes no sense and yet feels so, so right, Pattinson isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s having yet another well-deserved moment in the spotlight, and for that we are grateful. It also helps that Pattinson has off-the-chart scores in almost every category.
His first major role as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire defined a generation from the very first moment he jumped down from that tree branch. And even though it was an ill-fated character, his shaggy hair will live on in infamy. Not to mention the Twilight of it all. That spider monkey line changed the internet forever. He’s loved by arthouse directors near and far, and now he’s the (canonically) most emo and brooding Batman to ever exist. Give us a break!
As the freakiest of the bunch, you never know what Pattinson is going to do or say next. Will he make up another hand modeling backstory in his next interview? Is he going to shit talk his career-defining franchise only to endearingly backtrack 14 years later? Probably, yes. The man loves lying for attention. He’s just like us! Relatable king. At the same time, Pattinson is hilariously candid in his interviews. When talking about his British accent in a WIRED autocomplete interview, Pattinson answered, “It’s a mix of insecurities. Like, trying to disguise the fact that none of the words coming out mean anything.”
For the uninformed, Pattinson’s also a musician (with songs on multiple movie soundtracks, including Twilight), a chair designer (in the works), inventor of the sugar pasta dish Piccolini Cuscino, and the face of Dior. Drop everything you’re doing right now and watch his commercials.
A British Renaissance man for the modern age.
And some potential internet boyfriends, in no particular order, who are still in the talking stage:
Josh O’Connor: He’s a style icon and perhaps the only person capable of making Prince Charles likable. We are personally leading this intellectual hottie’s campaign.
Joe Alwyn: Taylor Swift’s boyfriend and star of the upcoming Hulu adaptation of Conversations with Friends is so gorgeous it actually hurts. Anticipate the Paul Mescal effect come May 15.
Jonathan Bailey: The current Bridgerton stand out is TikTok’s new crush. We get it.
Brett Goldstein: British comic and Ted Lasso hunk, Goldstein is fast on his way to boyfriend status.
Regé-Jean Page: The internet’s original Bridgerton crush and maybe a future Bond, James Bond?