Pop Culture

93 Of The Best Memes Of All Time

By Psquared - July 25, 2019
Credits: http://imgur.com

Thank goodness for the internet. Without it, what would our lives be like? Arguably better and definitely more productive, but that’s besides the point. Without the internet, our lives would unquestionably be filled with so much more boredom. Say what you want about the world wide web, but it certainly helps us pass the time. It’s overflowing with amazing content that keeps us laughing and entertained, and memes are the king of content. But what exactly are memes? So glad you asked!

Just about anything can be a meme. It can be an image, text, video or story. The most important thing is how shareable it is. Because for something to be a meme, it needs to be copied with slight alterations and spread rapidly. There have been countless memes not just throughout the history of the internet, but a few that even predate humans going online (we were shocked, too!). We wanted to count down some of our favorites, but had a hard time narrowing it down or ordering them, so strap in and make yourself comfortable, because (in no particular order) here are 90+ of the best memes of all time…

Success Kid

Credits: http://imgur.com

It’s hard to believe that this kid is getting ready to enter high school, but we’d expect nothing less from him.

There’s something about the combo of him being cute and determined that really motivates us and lets us brad about our accomplishments.

This became the official meme of victory. Anytime you overcame some obstacle (whether it be massive or minor), you were encouraged to write it on this picture and it gave it so much extra gravitas. Well done, kid.


Credits: http://imgur.com

Not all memes are text online. Some of it was real life nonsense we took pictures of and shared with the world.

2010 and 2011 was a strange time. The biggest meme sweeping all the social media sites was planking, where you… well, did stuff like this anywhere you could do it.

There were some truly amazing and terrible examples of this, and there were many meme imitators that tried (and failed) to keep the real life trend going right after. *Cough*”Tebowing” *Cough*

Sad Keanu

Credits: http://imgur.com

Keanu Reeves isn’t human. He’s a being made of pure joy, love and absolute meme potential.

While we’re currently going through a Keanu-ssance with the public’s love for him in film, there was a time that his star shone brightest online.

This photo was captured of him looking forlorn and eating a sandwich alone on a bench. Millions saw this and said, “Same.” Also, millions photoshopped him into a number of hilarious places, and we’re still grateful for all the laughs.

Deal With It

Credits: http://imgur.com

Trolling is an art as old as time, but the internet made it mainstream and brought all sorts of new tricks to the table.

When you make someone mad or just simply disagree with them and want to prove your superiority, drop one of these on them.

The classic example is having a pair of pixelated sunglasses drop on a character and these three simple words appearing: Deal. With. It. (Dog optional, but honestly? Super preferable.)

Smiley Face

Credits: http://imgur.com

Here’s an example of a meme that predates the internet itself. It’s hard to imagine where emojis would be today without it.

Harvey Ball’s 1963 depiction of a yellow circle with two black eyes and an upward grin set the stage for everything from your crying reactions to shocked face emoticons.

This paved a path to all the fun images we use to emote in text messages, so respect where it’s due to one of the longest lasting memes ever.


Credits: http://imgur.com

Originally, the song behind this video was the story of “A man, Johnny, riding his horse across the American prairie to his sweetheart Mary, who knits socks as she waits his return.”

Then it lost its lyrics, and now you can send it to anyone you’d like to shut up and/or troll. RIP, Eduard Khil.

The best way to wind someone up is to smile and dance on them, and this guy had the ultimate troll face. A true internet classic.

Slender Man

Credits: http://imgur.com

Not all of the memes online are meant to inspire laughter. This one is just the opposite and has terrified countless individuals.

The Slender Man is a towering, faceless humanoid who dresses in a suit and stalks lonely children. Entirely fictional, he was created in 2009, when a user of the internet forum Something Awful submitted a doctored photo for a paranormal image contest.

The character quickly exploded in popularity and became a fixture of horror sites (namely Creepypasta), inspiring countless videos, photos and pieces of fan fiction.


Credits: http://imgur.com

Dabbing is new-ish, but it has taken the world by storm because of all the famous folks getting in on it and helping it spread.

Cam Newton gave it a goMigos popularized it. And Squidward turned it into the ultimate surprise. But then there was billionaire Bill Gates.

Heck, even the incredible Hulk did it in the biggest movie of all time, Avengers Endgame. For better or worse, this meme is etched into the annals of pop culture history forever.

Large Son/Absolute Unit

Credits: http://imgur.com

In late 2017, David Morgan-Hewitt inspired what some call the successor to the “large adult son” phenomenon.

“Where the large son is unchecked energy, an absolute unit is the picture of poise,” wrote MEL Magazine’s Miles Klee, “proof that the seemingly uncontainable aggression of mammoth males can button itself up.”

Essentially, it’s posting pictures of adorably rotund animals and marveling at the absolute girth of these beauties. Look at that gorgeous round boi, for example.

Rebecca Black's "Friday"

Credits: http://imgur.com

Remember “Friday?”It was the vanity project of a poorly advised but decently well-funded teen.

It created a viral furor on the internet which led to the creation of remixesgifs and ever-lasting infamy for the young Rebecca Black.

This song was so bad that it was initially met with rage, but the more we listened to it, the more we learned to love the bad of it. Now, years later, it’s an example of some harmless fun that we remember fondly.

"Chocolate Rain"

Credits: http://imgur.com

Before Rebecca Black, there was Tay Zonday, whose “Chocolate Rain” lyrics became the embodiment of late-W. Bush-era resignation.

The song earned itself a feature on South Park as the epitome of the internet’s unfortunate place in a capitalistic society before YouTube allowed creators to monetize videos.

Zonday became internet famous in an era where that didn’t lead to any money and he’s since faded more and more into obscurity while newer creators make comfortable livings. Like the song says, “Some stay dry and others feel the pain.”

Michael Jackson Eating Popcorn

Credits: http://imgur.com

We can’t talk about memes without taking a moment to show appreciation for reaction GIFs.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so short looping videos must be worth millions, and they say so much more than any number of paragraphs could in a comment thread.

This particular one shows people’s eagerness to take a backseat and watch some juicy drama unfold in front of them. The genius of it is its simplicity. It’s just the King of Pop eating some popcorn, excited at the show he’s about to see.

Are You Not Entertained?

Credits: http://imgur.com

Russell Crowe’s iconic line from Gladiator not only created an unforgettable moment in cinema history, but this meme.

It’s quite simple. You find a picture of anyone or anything making the same gesture Crowe did with his arms hostile and outstretched and add the line to it.

Here’s a perfect example. And honestly, yes, we are entertained. This can be added to people, but it’s especially effective and hilarious when it’s added to photos of animals. Speaking of animals…


Credits: http://imgur.com

One person’s Shiba Inu is another person’s meme. Case in point: the doge meme. How did this happen?

When a Japanese kindergarten teacher put a picture of this adorable little doggo online, the internet did what the internet does.

With this picture as the base, Comic Sans captions, beautifully awful syntax and a custom payment system were added. It’s silly and nonsensical, but it’s taken on a life and meaning of its own, which is all you can ever want from a solid meme.

Is This A Pigeon?

Credits: http://imgur.com

This anime still from the ’90s series The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird has been making the rounds on the internet for at least half a dozen years.

But it’s its most recent revival that catapulted it into the meme history books.

Simply, you just add a text box over the person, the butterfly and the quote at the bottom, showing someone’s mis-labeling of something. It’s a great way to take a savage swipe at someone but maintain a pleasant exterior while doing so.

The Dress

Credits: http://imgur.com

Ah, THE DRESS. The term “broke the internet” is erroneously used too often with memes that honestly are sub par and not that impressive.

But this? It broke not only the internet, but our minds as well.

It was just a simple picture of a dress, but for some reason, half the world saw it as black and blue, and the other half saw it as gold and white. It’s a debate that still rages to this day years later.

Keep Calm And Carry On

Credits: http://imgur.com

This meme actually goes all the way back to 1939, when World War II broke out and the British had to get their propaganda machine in gear.

Originals of these posters were later unearthed in 2000 and quickly spread around the internet thanks to their simple design.

It’s also a timeless message. When in war, you have to keep as calm as possible. Same goes for when you’re in a flame war on a message board. Plus, the message can be changed while the design is kept, making countless iterations of this classic.

Dat Boi

Credits: http://imgur.com

This is one of three frogs that we’re going to see on this list. As great as cats and dogs are, frogs may be the ultimate green meme machines.

Though the meme-stream media was charged with killing Dat Boi, the polarizing green frog was everywhere on Twitter and Tumblr for a time.

It was a great time, too. The amphibian would ride in on his unicycle, often with his friends and we’d all say, “Hey… it’s dat boi.”

Scumbag Steve

Credits: http://imgur.com

We all know a Scumbag Steve. He’s the guy who shows up empty-handed to a party and drinks all the booze and eats all the snacks.

He then throws up on the carpet and drives home drunk. Steve is the worst.

He’s also the mascot for everyone who is the worst. He became a vessel for frustrated internet dwellers to vent about the d-bags in their lives. We’re not sure if the real guy in this picture is a scumbag, but he’s become the face of scumbags everywhere.

"I'm The Juggernaut"

Credits: http://imgur.com

The early to mid 2000s was a time where the internet was getting a handle on its sense of humor.

Overdubbing cartoons with crass language was the height of levity in those dark days. Not like today where we have sophisticated things like eating Tide Pods.

However, this video has the most lasting power and is easily the most quotable. So much so that a line even made its way into X-Men: The Last Stand.

Darude's "Sandstorm"

Credits: http://imgur.com

Speaking of the early to mid 2000s, this has to be the international anthem of that time period.

The techno-y song just had a way of getting you pumped, and it was a meme-generator on multiple fronts: the song and the video.

You know the video even if you’ve never seen it, and you know the song even if you don’t know you have. It was added to everything and it was everywhere, so it penetrated its way into the public consciousness like no other tune until, well… we’ll get to that.

Ancient Aliens Guy

Credits: http://imgur.com

You won’t believe this if you’re young, but The History Channel  actually used to be a respected channel that showed history.

Then they got caught up in the race for ratings and realized ridiculous equals eyeballs, so this dude came on as an “expert” on historic events.

What type of historic events? Aliens. His eccentric looks and mannerisms certainly gained attention which is what the channel was looking for, and the rest (appropriately enough) was history.

Old Town Road

Credits: http://imgur.com

This ear worm of a tune spent months as the country’s number-one song. As if that didn’t make it popular enough, it also had a  star-studded music video.

Then something happened: it gained near-universal recognition in the elementary school market. This jam was loved by people of all ages.

And just when we thought the steam was running out, it started up all over again thanks to Billy Ray Cyrus getting involved. Great… just great.

Wife Guys

Credits: http://imgur.com

Wife guy – (noun) a dude who posts very dramatic and/or very extra things online about his wife.

Patient zero was Curvy Wife Guy who posted a number of photos with lengthy captions about how he’s such a great guy for marrying a woman who’s not skinny.

The internet lampooned him for doing the bare minimum in a marriage by loving his wife and looking for credit for it. The memes this generated were glorious, so we can’t be too mad at him, can we?

Ceiling Cat

Credits: http://imgur.com

This was one of the first cat memes to hit the internet, so take a moment to bask in the history of this image.

It started off as a simple funny shot, but the captions that were added is what gave this little feline four legs and let him run.

Captions usually let you know what Ceiling Cat was watching you doing. In this era of constant surveillance, we wish Ceiling Cat were the one spying on us instead of the NSA.

Honey Badger

Credits: http://imgur.com

Remember when we discussed the Juggernaut and how he came from an era of overdubbing videos on the internet?

While most were pretty terrible, the Honey Badger video is a particularly hilarious one that stood out and gained some widespread popularity thanks to the sassy, confident’s beast’s catchphrases.

It actually became so popular that fans coined it as a nickname for then-Heisman Trophy candidate Tyrann Mathieu, who’s now a star in the NFL. Now that’s a meme with staying power!

'American Chopper Argument'

Credits: http://imgur.com

American Chopper was a show about the Teutul family, a tough bunch of guys who built bikes.

This heated scene from the show, in which Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr. argue at first with words and then with chairs was captured in a series of images.

Then, text was added by millions to show all manners of ridiculous, heated conversations and you had a formula for a meme that rode its way into our hearts.


Credits: http://imgur.com

If you went to college at a certain time you are all too familiar with this meme and miss it dearly.

Icing was a real life meme and simple: the rules were that if someone pulled a Smirnoff Ice out in front of you, you had to drink the whole thing.

This led to all manner of convoluted setups to yank the beverage out on your bros, and it was always a glorious, harmless good time (assuming you weren’t iced 11 times in a row).

Arthur Fist

Credits: http://imgur.com

Arthur is a PBS educational TV series based on the Arthur the Aardvark books. The important thing to take away from this is that it’s geared towards children.

However, childhood nostalgia is prime territory for farming meme content, and this particular image has produced a bountiful harvest of jokes.

This perfectly encapsulates inner frustration and is a meaningful companion to TMW (that moment when) and MFW (my feeling when) posts. It’s a relatable meme and one that exposes those little annoying moments we all have to deal with.

You Have Died Of Dysentery

Credits: http://imgur.com

Finding out you or one of your beloved Oregon Trail wagon-mates perished via this old disease was heartbreaking.

However, comedy is just tragedy plus time, so as adults looking back on this, we can find the silly in it and make it the basis for tons of jokes.

Of course, Oregon Trail wasn’t the only game we played in classrooms. Number Munchers was a classic, but as good as it was, it didn’t produce the meme-able material this epic did.


Credits: http://imgur.com

The Occupy Wall Street movement spawned dozens of social media campaigns, images, political action and protests.

Yet the one that may have the most lasting power was this terrible cop that decided it would be a good idea to stroll up and down a group of peacefully protesting students and pepper spray them directly in the face.

The internet is undefeated, however, and they have a way of turning their rage into hilarity, so the Photoshops began.

First World Problems

Credits: http://imgur.com

Don’t you just hate it when you go to Starbucks, order a latte with almond milk and they inform you they only have soy?

Isn’t that just the worst feeling in the world to you? If it is, then this is the meme for you.

Just because you live in the first world doesn’t mean you don’t have problems. However, those problems aren’t as serious as others, so this is the perfect way to complain while also making fun of yourself.

Starter Packs

Credits: http://imgur.com

This started after after slew of “Stuff X People Say” videos spread on YouTube about what certain types of people used to say.

Stereotyping is common online, and it can be hilarious when done in good faith and meant to make fun of your own group.

Thus, these starter packs came out. This is a perfect example. It shows what you would need to be someone that enjoys Early Bird specials. They have starter packs for every type of person you could imagine.

Delete Your Account

Credits: http://imgur.com

Hillary Clinton ended this meme when she tweeted it at Donald Trump during her 2016 presidential campaign.

But its origins go all the way back to Myspace, where it was an insult that eventually migrated to Tumblr and then spread to all all other social media as the ultimate shut-down retort.

“Delete your account” somehow manages to be both nicer and crueler than its wicked cousin, “Kill yourself.” Of course, once a presidential candidate uses it, it’s time to pack it in, because it officially peaked.

More Cowbell

Credits: http://imgur.com

Before he was a mainstream movie star, Will Ferrell was the backbone of Saturday Night Live.

And one of the most prolific and greatest guests the show ever had was the bizarre Christopher Walken. So when the two met on TV, magic was bound to happen.

The 2000 sketch that generated this now-famous line focused on the fictional percussionist of the Blue Oyster Cult who rocked the cowbell during recording sessions for their hit song, “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” It has since been repeated by everyone everywhere and can be bought on T-shirts in any Hot Topic store to this day.


Credits: http://imgur.com

William Shatner’s entire existence has morphed into a meme, from his signature vocal modulation to his spoken word singing of “Rocket Man” to appearing on S*** My Dad Says.

But his dramatic yelling of his arch nemesis in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan might be his most iconic meme moment.

Just look at that face. It literally screams of rage and a desire for revenge, and is a perfect image to use when showing off your own anger.

Nigerian Prince

Credits: http://imgur.com

Sometimes called a “419 scam”, this has been around as long as email has been a thing.

You get an email in stilted English from a stranger telling a tale of death, political difficulties, inheritance and your kind assistance, with a goal of making you cough up your bank account information.

And it turns out, it’s even older than the internet. The modern email version dates all the way back to the Spanish prisoner scam of the late 1700s. However, while it still tricks old people that don’t understand technology (a fine meme in and of itself), referenced as a trope, it’s become a joke meme all on its own.

Vancouver Riot Kiss

Credits: http://imgur.com

Find you someone that loves (or lusts after) you like these two loved (or lusted after) each other in the midst of a 2011 riot.

It was quite the sight, and they looked completely out of place. So you know what had to happen next.

Photoshoppers started placing them in historic situations about which they couldn’t care less. And of course the crossovers began, with the cop pepper-spraying them while neither party seemed to notice or care.


Credits: http://imgur.com

The internet is unquestionably the greatest resource in the history of mankind for collecting and using information.

If used correctly, it can connect the world and help us all learn and grow. But what do we do? Use it to make a bunch of immature memes.

If you see the number 420 or 69, you immediately say, “nice” because… nice. Look, we wish the internet and we ourselves were better than this, but we’re not. So just let us have a laugh, okay?

Tom Cruise Jumping On A Couch

Credits: http://imgur.com

Auto-Tune The ____

Credits: http://imgur.com

Remember Antoine Dodson? He was the guy who recommended that you hide yo kids and hide yo wife.

Why do we still remember him? Because of that catchy jingle that was created when someone Auto-tuned the news and made it a hit jam.

There was a time where the news and even the presidential debates were being Auto-tuned and turned into tunes that you couldn’t get out of your head. This trend seems to have faded luckily, so we have more room in our heads without them stuck in there.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Credits: http://imgur.com

Who would have thought that a viral challenge could lead to actual research discoveries, right?

What’s more, the challenge succeeded finally getting rid of the name “Lou Gehrig’s disease” from ALS. Credit where credit is due.

And while it was mocked by many, it was embraced by so many more and actually led to some positive change in the world. That’s the power of memes. Now if only “69 nice” could somehow solve world hunger.

Confused Guy

Credits: http://imgur.com

Fun fact: Nick Young (AKA Swaggy P) is the person in this image you’re all likely very familiar with.

He is a basketball player known as a shoot-first, overconfident ball hog. And yet he possesses a strange charisma encapsulated in this meme.

It’s perfect to use as a reaction to anything super befuddling. What kind of things? Well, how about the fact that the meme has come full circle. Yeah, that deserves a few question marks.

Dawson Crying

Credits: http://imgur.com

James Van Der Beek was the titular star of the teen drama Dawson’s Creek, which was a show about… well, teen stuff.

The stakes were never that high in the grand scheme of the universe, so this ugly crying face made for some hilarious memes.

When you have some low-stakes issues, this is the perfect way to overact and show your sorrow. James is in on the fun, though, so don’t worry about laughing at this former teen heartthrob.

Netflix And Chill

Credits: http://imgur.com

Ah, remember when even your grandparents knew what “Netflix and chill” really meant? That’s when it was officially over.

For future historians looking back on this, it means “sleeping with someone.” It was some (very, very, very) thin code.

When you asked someone if they wanted to go back to your pace for “Netflix and chill,” it was a euphemism for getting busy. The best memes were the “15 minutes into Netflix and chill” where you’d see ridiculous pics of people (and animals) awkwardly and aggressively getting it on.


Credits: http://imgur.com

The insanely popular, addictive freemium game has become influential on a staggering scale.

Remember how we mentioned that dabbing was etched into pop culture lore forever because it was featured in the biggest movie ever,  whether you’re aware of it or not. Fortnite has wooed countless celebs, concerned just as many parents, and invaded the sports world. The cult of the game can be baffling, but it’s very real. Just dance.

Haters Will Say It's Fake

Credits: http://imgur.com

Photoshop has to be the MVP of memes, right? Without it, where on earth would we be?

These particular memes are great for when your Photoshop skills aren’t the best. In fact, the worse they are, the better. These should look fake.

Of course, you always have to caption them with “haters will say it’s fake,” poking fun at people that try to lie their way into impressing people but don’t have the skills to actually pull it off.

Distracted Boyfriend

Credits: http://imgur.com

Shot by Antonio Guillem, the stock photo “Disloyal Man Walking With His Girlfriend and Looking Amazed at Another Seductive Girl” depicts… just exactly what its lengthy title described.

Since it came to prominence in 2017, this meme became perfect fodder for showing off conflicting desires.

Photoshops, text bubbles and even meta inversions were all seen, and it’s still going strong to this day. Ironic, considering the picture and subject matter that we’d all be so loyal to this format.

It's A Trap

Credits: http://imgur.com

When Admiral Ackbar first dropped this line in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, nobody could have known what a meme it would become on the internet.

Mainly because nobody knew what internet memes were… or what the internet was. But we digress.

This is the reaction you use when you can tell something isn’t quite right and you’re being lured into an ambush. Perfect to warn others before engaging in a comment thread with a troll.

Interrupting Kanye

Credits: http://imgur.com

When Kanye West crashed Taylor Swift’s speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he probably knew he was doing something that would never be forgotten.

But surely he didn’t realize the moment would later turn into one of the most enduring memes of all time.

Photoshop Kanye into famous moments in history and drop the caption, “I’mma let you finish.” That’s all there is to it. This meme is mostly responsible for why we still look at him and can’t help but laugh to this day.

Recut Movie Trailers

Credits: http://imgur.com

Just a few months after the launch of YouTube, commercial editor Robert Ryang inadvertently kicked off a movement by recutting Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining into a lighthearted family comedy.

The viral success of The Shining trailer spawned countless recuts, with a few (for example, Brokeback to the Future) catapulting the practice to legendary status.

To this day if you type in “recut trailer” you can find new gems, such as this one of Hook the horror movie.

Don't Tase Me, Bro

Credits: http://imgur.com

When overzealous police officers attempted to remove a man who interrupted Senator John Kerry’s speech at the University of Florida in 2007, internet history was made.

The conflict escalated and the protester saw the officers reaching for their weapon, so he defiantly yet somehow also pathetically yelled, “Don’t tase me, bro!

The line has became a response to any unpleasant experience, and the whole exchange was auto-tuned and put to a beat. Man, memes are best when combined with other memes, aren’t they?


Credits: http://imgur.com

Animals make excellent internet fodder, and “Philosoraptor” adds some heavy thinking to that equation.

He is a popular image meme where a quizzical dinosaur thinks deeply absurd thoughts. Where did this Jurassic meme hatch from?

While you may think this particular joke was cooked up on a web forum, Philosoraptor actually debuted as a T-shirt sold on the website Lonely Planet by a designer named Sam Smith. The design found its way online, and this guy is still a mainstay on sites like Reddit every single day.

'Star Wars' Kid

Credits: http://imgur.com

Parodied by such comedy stalwarts as Stephen Colbert and Arrested Development, this 2002 video of a kid wielding a ball fetcher like a lightsaber exploded onto the pre-YouTube internet.

Yes, there were video memes even before YouTube. And this may have been the granddaddy of them all.

The video was edited to add different songs and visual effects. As for Star Wars kid himself? He slapped the cyberbullies who leaked the video with harassment lawsuits. Not all memes have happy beginnings or endings, unfortunately.


Credits: http://imgur.com

South Park has given the world its fair share of iconic moments, but nothing was more meme-worthy than the underpants gnomes’ business model.

They steal underwear in order to turn a profit. How do they make a profit? Through a simple three-phase plan, the second phase of which is simply “?”.

In time, some form of the punchline “Profit” became a golden response to any example of poor planning or a dumb idea destined for failure. The beginning and end of a plan are the most important parts, but you can’t neglect the middle.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Credits: http://imgur.com

What time is it? It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time. Before this was a goofy Family Guy gag, this delightfully silly meme started on forums online.

It was a piece of Flash animation where an exuberant banana danced around as “Peanut Butter Jelly Time,” a track from the Buckwheat Boyz, blares in the background.

This type of random ridiculousness in the early 2000s created a blueprint for what the internet’s sense of humor would be like going forward. Pay your respects to this peanut butter pioneer.

Nyan Cat

Credits: http://imgur.com

Speaking of iconic images of the early internet that stood the test of time, this may be the ultimate representative of online humor.

It takes an army to generate a lasting meme. Fused together from a GIF, designed by a 25-year-old in Dallas, Texas, and a Japanese music video cover of “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya,” Nyan Cat popped up on YouTube in 2011.

The simplicity of Nyan Cat’s image made it easy to repurpose with world flags, various cat faces and unmentionable stuff you can use your imagination to figure out.


Credits: http://imgur.com

On May 28, 2016, a toddler managed to climb into a gorilla’s enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. A zoo employee who feared for the child’s life shot and killed the gorilla, Harambe.

In a different era, the incident would have been nothing more than a story in the local newspaper. But it’s the Meme Age, so Harambe became the internet’s mascot.

Not only was the gorilla in countless memes, but 11,000 people supposedly voted for Harambe in the American presidential election. A Harambe Cheeto even sold for $99,900 on eBay. Long live Harambe.

Sensitive Gosling

Credits: http://imgur.com

As great of an actor as Ryan Gosling is, his lasting legacy may just be him giving a smoldering look and saying,”Hey Girl.”

This meme is made for women, by women. It features the celebrity stud saying things incredibly sensitive to the modern woman’s needs.

“Hey girl,” is a bit of harmless fun, but it can also be used by single guys who are trying to figure out exactly what women want. This is a window into their psyches, fellas. Always be more like Sensitive Gosling.

Obama's "Hope" Poster

Credits: http://imgur.com

Shepard Fairey’s reproduction of an Obama portrait quickly became one of the most iconic images of the 2008 presidential election.

It wasn’t long before several parodies, imitating the style and minimalist message, spawned. To this day, you can still see countless parodies of this being made.

This is one of the more iconic memes, as it not only had a place on the internet, but in history books. This image led to a president. Memes are more powerful than we ever realized.

Bye, Felicia

Credits: http://imgur.com

When Ice Cube was shooting Friday in 1995 there’s no way he had any idea that a throwaway line like “Bye, Felicia” would go on to become a popular dismissive catchphrase.

Yet, countless GIFs, Twitter put-downs and even the title of a VH1 show spawned from it. That’s just how the internet works.

This phrase went from the movies to the internet and then back to the big screen: the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton featured Cube’s actual son O’Shea Jackson Jr. delivering the line while playing his father.

"All Star"

Credits: http://imgur.com

This turn-of-the-millennium hit found second life in the hands of a new generation that love nothing more than loving things ironically.

Peak “All Star” meme-ing is done by Jon Sudano on YouTube, who poignantly squeezes Smash Mouth lyrics into other popular songs.

But what does the band itself think of all this? Smash Mouth said, “It’s funny because a large percentage of our fans don’t even know what a meme is — heck, we didn’t really know either at first.” Yeah… Not the sharpest tools in the shed.

"Gangnam Style"

Credits: http://imgur.com

Catchy hooks? Easy dance moves? Absurd imagery? Carefully crafted satire of something loosely analogous to South Korea’s 1%? All of the above?

We don’t know exactly why Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is so popular and immortal. But with three billion views on YouTube, it’s gonna be remembered forever.

And when something gets that big on the internet, it gets big in the real world, too. The internet is part of our world, and this song horse-trotted it’s way to every wedding reception since its release.

Double Rainbow

Credits: http://imgur.com

“Oh my God, it’s so bright and vivid. Oh! Oh! OHHHH!” That’s how Paul “Bear” Vasquez described the double rainbow he spotted and recorded near Yosemite in 2010.

A beautiful experience to behold, for sure. But what made this explode in popularity was the unadulterated awe in Bear’s voice.

He sounded like he was simultaneously scared, happy and on the verge of an emotional breakdown. The video was a meme creator’s dream, immediately spawning songs and catchphrases.

Duck Face

Credits: http://imgur.com

Whether you saw it first on Myspace or in Zoolander, you know exactly what this pose is.

Who invented it? We don’t know. But what we do know is that it has been seen everywhere since the early 2000s when it came to prominence.

And while it was immediately associated with Scumbag Steve levels of people who used it, it has persisted by those who want to seem sultry and those who want to mock those who do it un-ironically.


Credits: http://imgur.com

Former Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen took the word “winning” and gave it a whole new meaning.

In an interview where he was obviously strung out on all the drugs, he said that when it came to life, he was winning.

Almost immediately, the internet used this term as an expression to show someone who is naively optimistic about their success and stance in life despite the dire position they’re in. That said, Mr. Sheen is still around, so perhaps he was indeed winning.

Shirtless Putin

Credits: http://imgur.com

Vladimir Putin has been the subject of countless memes over his lengthy and shady reign heading the Russian oligarchy.

While “Shirtless Putin” memes featuring him riding eagles and bears are used to mock his staged acts of masculinity, the people of Russia have used this for other purposes.

They use it to mock him and protest the regime’s harsh stance on LGBTQ rights. This meme (and all memes of Putin, really) were promptly banned by the Kremlin (meaning they clearly got under his skin, which was easy since he wasn’t wearing a shirt to protect him).

Dramatic Chipmunk

Credits: http://imgur.com

Animals are hilarious and cute! That’s one of the great truths that makes the internet go ’round and ’round.

But when they make anthropomorphic faces or behave in ways that make you believe they’re more human? That’s when they become the stuff of internet legend.

This prairie dog (mistakenly called a chipmunk by many) first popped up (get it?) in all his dramatic glory on the early 2000s Japanese show Hello Morning! Then YouTube came along, and in 2007 our dramatic hero became a go-to whenever you needed to express over-the-top shock

"Numa Numa" Song

Credits: http://imgur.com

It’s fun to watch other people have fun. That’s especially true for “Numa Numa,” a video that popped up online in the early ’00s.

New Jersey resident Gary Brolsma danced like a mad man to “Dragostea Din Tei” by Moldovan pop trio O-Zone (the song sampled on T.I. and Rihanna’s “Live Your Life”).

Brolsma’s joyful lip sync inspired countless tributes, parodies and sequels, but nothing beats the original for pure, unhinged joy. He’s a real life face to add to the few human memes that helped launch the internet’s early humor style.

Squinting Fry

Credits: http://imgur.com

Who would’ve thought that a random screengrab from Futurama‘s “The Lesser of Two Evils” would become so widespread?

Probably not Fry, but to be fair, he’s super skeptical. That’s kind of this meme’s whole thing. Whenever you’re not sure of something, this is the image for you.

This picture is decades old, but holds just as much relevance today because of its evergreen feeling of not being sure of something. This meme may last all the way to 3000 when the show takes place.

Grumpy Cat

Credits: http://imgur.com

Grumpy Cat was a sweet cat that became a viral cat that became a movie cat voiced by Aubrey Plaza.

This poor sweet kitty passed away, but she’s in that litter box in the sky right now, frowning down on all of us.

If there was any face that defined memes on the internet, it has to be this one. It’s a sarcastic, hilarious, skeptical one. Plus, it’s a cat. This creature was genetically designed to be the world wide web’s mascot, and she’ll never be forgotten.

Hitler Reacts

Credits: http://imgur.com

Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 2004 film Downfall about Adolf Hitler’s final days in his Berlin bunker doesn’t seem like the funniest of source materials, but the internet is undefeated in its creativity.

YouTubers turned the climax into a subtitled burst of absurdist comedy. In many of the viral parodies that followed, he kvetches about trivial pop-culture matters.

“The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality,” Hirschbiegel told Vulture in 2010, noting that his favorites were the Michael Jackson and Billy Elliot ones. “It’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like.”

You're The Man Now, Dog

Credits: http://imgur.com

No one could have predicted that a mildly problematic line from Sean Connery’s Finding Forrester would become the emblem for repetitive internet nonsense.

In 2001, Max Goldberg slapped Connery’s line-reading with a tiled mosaic of his face and cast it off into an infinite loop.

Goldberg would open the site up to user-created “YTMND” memes, and it was meme central for the mid-’00s. They even went to war with Ebaum’s World, which is probably the most ’00s thing ever.


Credits: http://imgur.com

Whether he’s sipping tea or talking to an evil doppelgänger of himself, this Muppet has a decidedly different identity when memers get their hands on him.

He’s perfect as the devil on your shoulder and the sassy “I won’t say I told you so… but I told you so” mascot.

Just about any still image of Kermit can and has been turned into internet glory. It’s not easy being green, but it is easy being memed.

The Most Interesting Man In The World

Credits: http://imgur.com

As much as we love this guy and his incredible feats from the Dos Equis commercials, he’s even better in meme form.

The format is simply: “I don’t always ____, but when I do, I _____.” Plug in whatever you want from there.

Because that’s the benchmark of a great meme: a great and simple formula. Sure, as a commercial mascot he was just ripping off Chuck Norris facts, but as a meme, he has way more staying power and originality.

Chuck Norris Facts

Credits: http://imgur.com

Speaking of Chuck Norris, he was memed in the real world. His legendary escapades spread via word of mouth.

Someone eventually started collecting them on the internet, and it became a fun game to make up outlandish (but we assure you, all totally real) feats performed by this deity of a man.

What was Chuck’s favorite? “They wanted to put Chuck Norris’ face on Mount Rushmore, but the granite wasn’t hard enough for his beard.” You’re gosh darn right.

Thanks, Obama

Credits: http://imgur.com

No president inspired more online vitriol and praise than Barack Obama (at least until his successor). This is largely because he was America’s first true president of the internet age.

“Thanks, Obama” took off as sarcastic right-wing retort to the perceived problems with Obama’s health-care bill.

However, it was soon co-opted by the left and then the internet in general as a way of jokingly blaming Obama for literally every problem in the world. Oreo won’t fit in your glass? Thanks, Obama.

Me IRL/It Me

Credits: http://imgur.com

The internet is full of people mocking anything and everything they see, so it’s a nice change of pace to see some self-deprecating humor.

The phrase “me irl”(“in real life”) got its start way back in 1997, but (as with most memes) blew up on Reddit much later on.

The closely related “It Me” meme serves the same purpose, but grew out of a James Franco text exchange with an underage girl. Point is, you see something embarrassing, you say this to show empathy rather than spite. How wholesome.

Epic Fail

Credits: http://imgur.com

Okay, now back to relentlessly mocking strangers. Sorry, it’s the internet. That’s just what we do here.

When somebody fails, it’s fun to point and laugh. Sure, “there but the grace blah blah blah,” whatever. But it feels good to laugh because it’s not happening to you.

However, sometimes saying “fail” isn’t enough. When failure is on an epic scale, you need to say “epic fail.” This is the type of early internet leet speak that has gone out of fashion, but for a time, it was everywhere.

Condescending Wonka

Credits: http://imgur.com

In 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, when actor Gene Wilder introduces Wonka’s most secret machine, he strikes an incredible pose.

In the moment, it’s a pose of playful suspense. However, without context, the image seems like he’s condescending to the person he’s talking to.

So what did the internet do? They made a meme out of it. Whenever someone is doing something stupid, you throw out this picture and sarcastically tell them how great an idea it is. That’s the (golden) ticket!

Demotivational Posters

Credits: http://imgur.com

Remember back in high school or even at some offices in the late ’90s and early ’00s there’d always be those motivational posters?

The “hang in there” kitty is the most recognizable of the bunch. They meant well but came off more condescending than Willy Wonka.

You know what the internet loves? Sarcasm and harsh realities. Thus, the de-motivational posters were born. Whenever you see a picture of something unfortunate, you frame it and slap a caption on it letting everyone know that sometimes not trying is the best course of action.

Crying Michael Jordan

Credits: http://imgur.com

The rare example of a meme that made its own news in real time, Crying Michael Jordan originated from Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech.

Yes, MJ is the greatest of all time and it feels disrespectful to mock him. But a screengrab this good? It’d be disrespectful not to use it.

You can put MJ’s face on just about anything to lighten the mood. When something is sad, this face somehow acknowledges it and makes you feel a little better through laughter.


Credits: http://imgur.com

As divided as our country is and has been, the Ermahgerd meme emerged from an immediate collective understanding everyone could agree upon.

And that is that “ermahgerd gersbermps” is exactly how the girl in this picture would pronounce, “Oh my God, Goosebumps.”

Since then, Photoshops have been made placing other things in her hands and writing out phonetically how she would say it. This meme got so popular that people speak like this in real life these days. New language? Memes can do that, too.

That's What She Said

Credits: http://imgur.com

The phrase may date as far back as Saturday Night Live‘s “Wayne’s World,” but it’s still funny to 13-year-olds the world over.

Oh, and of course Michael Scott from The Office who gave new life to this immature expression.

It’s an annoying but easy game to play. Just retort “That’s what she said” to literally anything that someone says and it makes it sexual.

“I have to do my taxes?”

“That’s what she said.”

We don’t know why it works every time… but it works every time.

Keyboard Cat

Credits: http://imgur.com

Boo boo boo boo boo buhboooooo buh. Boo boo boo boo boo boo buhboooooo buh.

If you’ve ever seen the original video, that nonsensical gibberish up there was actually a catchy melody playing in your head. In a way, this is kind of the spiritual predecessor to “Baby Shark,” minus the love from billions of children.

But with that expression, that shirt and the rigid movement of the arms, keyboard cat deserved to be as big as “Baby Shark,” but it was before its time.

Dancing Baby

Credits: http://imgur.com

Not only is this the world’s first internet meme, it’s also one of the critical turning points of internet history.

In 1996, Michael Girard designed the baby as a demo to prove motion could be effectively programmed on a computer. When it landed in the lap of a LucasArts designer, he turned it into what was effectively the world’s first GIF.

From there, it slid into a thousand email inboxes and became the internet’s first true phenomenon, culminating in a recurring role on ’90s time capsule show Ally McBeal.


Credits: http://imgur.com

A parody of leet speak? The conversion of adorableness into syntax? We’ll never know why 4chan users started this.

But it took off. To be fair, bad grammar and cats are what makes up a majority of the internet, so it feels natural to combine them.

These cute kitties spawned such saying as “I Can Haz Cheezeburger?” That’s an expression that exists to this day and even has its own website. Again, as we’ve scene, cats are the undisputed kings of memes.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Credits: http://imgur.com

This former Flash video, spread primarily on forums like Something Awful, launched the modern meme format, the Image Macro (image with white block letters over).

The phrase itself is a direct quote from a shoddily translated Japanese Sega Genesis game, Zero Wing.

Like any good meme, it led to countless remixes and parodies. It became its own expression in nerd culture, and even became so popular it showed up in news broadcasts. You know your meme made it when it’s on the news.


Credits: http://imgur.com

It might surprise you where “derp” came from. It shouldn’t. The creators of South Park have already appeared on this list with their contributions to meme culture.

Matt Stone first yelled the word after he was caught licking a lewd object in BASEketball. DERP!

The term, which has come to represent moments of failure and stupidity, has since found its way into a number of South Park episodes (remember Mr. Derp?). But more importantly, it is now standard in mainstream internet vernacular.


Credits: http://imgur.com

Andre the Giant was larger than life, and he’s also larger than death, as he’s still memed long after he’s gone.

In 1989, street artist Shepard Fairey created a stencil of Andre the Giant with the added phrase “Has a Posse,” and distributed them all over the East Coast where they became popular in the skater subculture.

Eventually, the stencil morphed into a stylized image of Andre the Giant with the word “OBEY” underneath. This anti-authoritarian message has been replicated countless times with countless variations on every medium imaginable from the internet to clothing.

U Mad, Bro?

Credits: http://imgur.com

Nothing infuriates an angry person more than mockingly asking if they are angry. Everyone knows that, and it’s how “U mad bro?”  was born.

The simpler “You mad” first came to prominence when Cam’ron shut down Bill O’Reilly during a segment on whether or not rap was harmful to children.

Eventually, “u mad?” and “u mad bro?” became go-to troll retorts all over the internet. Throwing in a troll face macro just heightens the joy of it all.


Credits: http://imgur.com

When something seems too good to be true, it usually this. This is a lesson we all learned in the ’00s when we were constantly fooled into clicking on links that brought us to the YouTube video of Rick Astley’s”Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Rickroll’s roots go all the way back to 4chan circa 2007. Say what you want about 4chan and those that inhabit it, but they’ve contributed greatly to meme history.

Over a decade later, we’re still afraid to take a risky click on a link because this persists to this day. People are never gonna give this joke up, never gonna let it down, never gonna run around and desert it.


Credits: http://imgur.com

Primitive SpongeStunned PatrickConfused Mr. Krabs. These are just scratching the surface of the iceberg above the pineapple under the sea that’s home to the undisputed meme king of the world.

If you needed any more proof that SpongeBob SquarePants was amazing, and not just for kids, just about every single second of the show has been screengrabed and gone viral.

From image macros to mocking sOmOnE ThRoGh iNtErMitTeNt CapItAlIzAtIoN to GIF reactions, SpongeBob is versatile, recognizable and proving immortal.