Best TikTok accounts, trends of 2021


Screenshot via @usequestrian on TikTok

A 2021 TikTok video from the US equestrian team highlights several of the team’s jumps.

By Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor

Did I scroll back through my liked and favorited videos on my TikTok account just to make this article? Perhaps, and maybe I need to reevaluate my life choices considering how many videos I’ve watched this year, but at least we all get an article out of it.

Everyone’s TikTok For You page looks a little different, and mine tends to skew less toward the Addison Rae’s of the world and more to videos ranking Marvel characters by their zodiac signs — but there are some trends that all of us have come upon one way or another. Here is a summary of some of my personal favorites that graced the phone screens of millions around the world last year.


Simone Biles is TIME magazine’s athlete of the year, as she very well deserves. 2021’s Olympics was one for the books, particularly because Biles prioritized her mental health over competing. But the 2021 Olympics were different for another reason, and we have TikTok to thank for that.

Olympians were more accessible to us than ever, as OlympicTok came on the rise during summer 2021. There were all kinds of videos from the Olympics — a day in the life at the Olympic Village, rating food at the Olympic dining hall, event recaps set to catchy music and even the auspicious cardboard bed rumor. Suni Lee showing off her gold medal in gymnastics is one of my favorites.

I loved every minute of it, and some of my favorite videos of the year are from OlympicTok. Personally, I’d like to shout out the USA Olympic Equestrian team. I could watch their horses run and jump forever.


See you in Tokyo. It’s going down 🔥 @teamusa @charlesowenhelmets #USAEventing #equestrian #horses #Olympics

♬ original sound – US Equestrian

BookTok and the rise of The Song of Achilles

I’m going to be a little pretentious here and pull out both my English and Classics degrees to plug this book along with BookTok. If you read fiction at all or have any interest in sobbing on your bed at 3 a.m. surrounded by a nest of used tissues, read Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles,” which thanks to BookTok, became a New York Times bestseller in 2021.

The Song of Achilles came out in 2011, but its popularity on BookTok shot the book sales through the roof. Miller told The New York Times that she was speechless about the book’s resurgence in popularity on TikTok, which she didn’t even know existed.

BookTok’s influence over the publishing industry is fascinating, and it’s actually changing how publishing companies market and produce their books. With all of us still in a quasi-quarantine state, it’s no surprise that many people have taken to reading to escape. And whether you’re curling up with the latest YA obsession or a 22-book-long erotica series on sexy blue aliens, BookTok has recommendations for you.


We love #songofachilles 😌 #booktok #MyTeacherWins #book #booksellersoftiktok #barnesandnoble

♬ Too damn bad – Khleo Thomas

Hank Green’s various TikTok shenanigans

Hey, do y’all remember that guy who taught us the Krebs cycle in like 11th grade on YouTube and who was basically the reason you passed your AP Biology test? Well, he’s a TikTok star now.

I’m partially kidding, Hank Green has done a lot more in his life than make videos for us on TikTok. He and his brother John Green, the bestselling author of “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns,” created Crash Course — an educational YouTube channel with 13 million subscribers. Hank Green has also written environmental blogs for National Geographic and NPR.

Recently though, he’s telling us not to eat grass — among other things. Hank Green made his online presence more casual using his TikTok account. Usually, he responds to people tagging him in weird science videos — asking questions like “What’s the evolutionary purpose of asshair? It’s both horrifying and fascinating to see what people will ask him, and Hank seems more unhinged everyday as our questions get more outlandish. Maybe we should give him a break.


Counting down the last 15 days of the year with my top 15 videos.

♬ original sound – Hank Green


As TikTok skyrockets in usage, big brands and companies are taking to the app as well. You can usually spot them by their cringey promotional videos and the blue checkmark next to their name. But there are a few company accounts that I and the rest of TikTok actually adore, and Duolingo beats every other corporate intern on the app by a mile.

Duolingo, the world’s leading language learning app and a Pittsburgh-based company, already has a reputation on the internet for its usage as a meme. Duolingo makes its own original content on TikTok and is happy to participate in any popular trends or audios. Usually, the video features someone running around or posing in the iconic Duolingo bird suit. And those empty eyes are terrifying to behold.

Just don’t tell them about your three missed days of Spanish lessons, or you might find a homicidal green owl outside your window tonight.


The only way to honor our queen today @taylorswift! #duolingo #swifttok #taylorswift #taylornation #redscarf #unlockit #jakegyllenhaal

♬ apple pay w brittany laugh – requiem for a meme

Fictional character thirst traps

If you haven’t lingered over the thirst trap of a fictional character on TikTok this year then you’re missing out on some of the simplest joys of the internet. These videos all have millions of views and some of y’all aren’t being honest enough with what you’re doing on this app.

This isn’t exactly a 2021 trend, but this trend has been going strong on the app since it launched. Whether you’re simping over an edit of Tom Hiddleston posing as the dastardly devious Loki or Timothée Chalamet walking the sands of Arrakis as one Paul Atreides, there is a variety of ThirstToks to pick from.

To end on a nod to 2021, Andrew Garfield dominated this trend in December as the white boy of the month, with his role in the new Spider-Man movie “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Finally, Garfield garnered the respect he deserved for his tenure as the web-slinger.