- The Ferguson protesters -- Who took to the streets after Michael Brown's killing in August, and after the grand jury declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in November
- The Ebola caregivers in West Africa
- Russian President Vladimir Putin -- Has been in the headlines all year, from his country's hosting of the Sochi Olympics, to its annexation of Crimea, to its role in the separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine.
- Taylor Swift -- One of the world's top-selling pop artists who shook up the music business by pulling her music from Spotify.
- Jack Ma -- Founder and CEO of Alibaba, China's e-commerce giant, which debuted with a $25 billion IPO.
- Tim Cook -- Apple's CEO, who introduced the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Apple Watch and Apple Pay this year, and came out as the first openly gay Fortune 500 CEO
- Masoud Barzani -- "Acting president of the Iraqi Kurdish Region since 2005, who has deftly threaded the region's push for independence with the ongoing fight against" ISIS.
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell -- His leadership has been under scrutiny as the league has dealt this year with domestic abuse by players including Ray Rice, as well as other controversies.