Who will be TIME's 2018 Person of the Year? Check out the shortlist

The 2018 shortlist includes Christine Blasey Ford, Meghan Markle, Robert Mueller, Ryan Coogler and families separated at the border.
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By Eun Kyung Kim

It’s that time of year.

TIME has narrowed down its shortlist of finalists for the magazine’s of 2018 Person of the Year.

The title is not necessarily an honor or award, but representative of the influence the person — or idea — has had on the news within the past year, for better or worse.

Who will be TIME's Person of the Year this year?

TIME has made the designation every year since 1927. Last year, the magazine's editors selected The Silence Breakers, the individuals who spoke up and sparked a national reckoning over the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault.

The year before that, 2016, was Donald Trump, who had just become president-elect after stunning the nation — and the world — by winning the White House race.

Trump was again a finalist last year and made the 2018 short list, which includes two other world leaders, a university professor, families torn apart and American royalty.

The magazine will reveal its Person of the Year live Tuesday on TODAY. Until then, here are the candidates, in no significant order:

President Donald J. TrumpNicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images

Donald Trump

He was named TIME's "Person of the Year" in 2016 after his presidential election victory. After learning he was a runner-up for the title last year, Trump sent out a tweet, of course, saying he "took a pass" at being named Person of the Year for a second year in a row. The magazine dismissed Trump's claim.

Could third time be the charm — for a repeat?

Central American asylum seekers are taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents on June 12, 2018 near McAllen, Texas. John Moore / Getty Images

Separated Families

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

The images of frightened, often sobbing children and their distressed parents splashed across newspapers and cable networks this year. At the height of the problem during the summer, more than 2,500 children were separated from their parents after being caught trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigration officials split up the families as part of a Trump administration "zero-tolerance policy" that sparked global outrage from politicians and humanitarians.

An executive order issued in June theoretically eliminated the separation practice, although government data recently obtained by the Associated Press found government officials continued to separate dozens of migrant children from their parents.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a Nov. 29 meeting with representatives of the "popular front" movement in Krasnogorsk, Russia.Alexei Druzhinin / AP

Vladimir Putin

The Russian president was named TIME's Person of the Year in 2007 and he remains a headliner more than a decade later. His government's alleged attempts to intervene with the U.S. presidential election remain front and center of a special counsel probe, and Putin's chumminess with the man who won that 2016 election, Donald Trump, continue to raise eyebrows among critics.

Special Counsel Robert MuellerTom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Robert Mueller

The special counsel has rattled President Trump since the day the former FBI director took over the investigation of the Russian government's efforts to meddle with the 2016 presidential election — and help then-candidate Donald Trump win.

Mueller's probe has yielded cooperation in the form of plea deals from various campaign aides, consultants and advisers, most recently Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Director Ryan Coogler attends the 'Black Panther' BFI preview screening held at BFI Southbank on February 9, 2018 in London, England.Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

Ryan Coogler

The screenwriter and director who helped introduce “Wakanda forever!” into the popular lexicon, Coogler turned “Black Panther” into a cultural coup that also yielded massive box-office success.

Prior to this year’s blockbuster, based on the Marvel comic and the first with a predominantly black cast, Coogler rose to fame with “Fruitvale Station,” and “Creed.” It was “Black Panther,” however, that turned him into certifiable gold; the superhero hit was nominated last week for a Golden Globe and the entertainment industry expects a Oscar nomination will follow next month.

Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before testifying the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building at the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., September 27, 2018.Win McNamee / Pool via Reuters

Christine Blasey Ford

The unassuming university professor became a national figure after accusing a Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers growing up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Ford’s powerful Senate testimony about federal judge Brett Kavanaugh, who denied the allegations, made headlines around the world and sparked a conversation about why so many women never go public about being sexually assaulted. Kavanaugh ultimately was confirmed by the Senate and seated on the high court.

A man holds a poster of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi during an Oct. 8 protest at the entrance to Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Chris McGrath / Getty Images

Jamal Khashoggi

He was the Saudi Arabian journalist, dissident and U.S. resident whose murder enraged congressional lawmakers because of how it was conducted and purportedly by whom.

On Oct. 2, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was killed and allegedly dismembered, according to multiple news reports. The Saudi government initially denied the account, but then contradicted its story with various versions about the way Khashoggi died. U.S. lawmakers have expressed outrage over the murder, saying U.S. intelligence agencies have no question it was directed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly referred to as MBS. But Trump has shied away from directly blaming the prince.

People join a rally to show support for students who finished the last leg of a 50-mile journey in the hometown of former House Speaker Paul Ryan to call attention to gun violence on March 28, 2018 in Janesville, Wisconsin. Scott Olson / Getty Images

March for Our Lives Activists

Led by the student survivors of one of the worst school shootings in history, the march on Washington — and hundreds of satellite marches across the world — represented a protest against gun violence and an effort to enact change around gun reform.

The marches were led by the survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed in the Feb. 14 shooting before the alleged gunman was taken into custody.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) walk with South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C) during a visit to Samjiyon guesthouse in Samjiyon on September 20, 2018 in Samjiyon, North Korea. Getty Images

Moon Jae-in

Voted into office last year as South Korea's president by voters angry over the corruption and collusion scandals that blanketed his predecessor, Moon has grabbed international headlines ever since.

In April, Moon held a historic summit with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, on their shared border. It was the first time that a North Korean leader had stepped into South Korea since the end of the war between the two nations. The two leaders have since met at two other summits, looking to establish peace on the Korean peninsula.

The former Meghan Markle, now Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Meghan Markle

She’s the American actress who found her prince — among real-life British royalty.

The marriage of Duchess of Sussex, as she became formally known once she got hitched, to Prince Harry of England made the former actress one of the most closely watched royals in the world. That won't change in the year ahead now that she and Harry are expecting their first child in the spring.

Whose face will appear on that iconic TIME cover this year? Tune in to TODAY on Tuesday to find out.