Around the end of November and start of December, Bing and Yahoo released lists summing up the top searches of 2010. Now, a little closer to the end of the year, Google's followed suit, and there's plenty of data for people who are interested in that sort of thing.
As for the U.S. lists, you can see several of them below. Celebrate or despair as you please. Obviously, the iPad, Chatroulette, and the latest iPhone were all popular topics, along with more significant events like the Gulf oil spill and the earthquake in Haiti.
Somehow, the cast of "Jersey Shore," Kesha, and Justin Bieber attracted a lot of eyeballs, too, even as people also dedicated some time to tracking down less fleeting things like the World Cup, the Eiffel Tower, and Hearst Castle.
One last fact for data hounds: on the Official Google Blog, a post noted, "[W]e've added interactive HTML5 data visualizations for the top queries and events from around the world. You can easily compare the popularity of the Olympics vs. the World Cup, see the world's reaction to Haitian earthquake or the Gulf Oil Spill through the eyes of search trends. With these new visualizations, you can interact with, explore and obsess over search data just the way we do."