In 2016, memes had such a strong run they became bigger than Jesus. This year? Dozens of heavy hitters sought to steal the thrones of yesteryear's web royalty. Whether it was a screenshot, a GIF, or a heavy dose of sarcasm, the internet didn't disappoint when responding to 2017's insanity. (It helped that there was a lot.) Read on for a ranking of our 50 favorites, the ones that made a big impression and became impossible to forget.
This old Christmas tradition got new life when the Tumblr and Reddit crowds popularized a catchy refrain: "You've heard of Elf on the Shelf, now get ready for... Ash in the Trash? Waluigi on a Squeegee? Shrek on a Deck?" Thanks to visual clues, the rhyme was for you to (roll your eyes at and) finish. The admittedly dumb template became unavoidable after it surfaced, but, when used correctly, it was a damn treat.
Wow. "The Great American Eclipse" of 2017 was really special. It was the first time since 1979 a total solar eclipse was visible from the U.S., and when that moon started to obscure the sun, man, people really lost their shit. Some celebrated with special Eclipse glasses, others with earthbound eclipses (see above), and a special few with downright bad decisions. Bright!
At the end of October, Apple released an iOS update that came with an unfortunate bug. Mobile users noticed that every time they tried to type a standalone "i" an "A," along with a question-mark box, took its place. Some Apple devotees got mad. Some adapted with the lowercase "L." But best of all, many simply embraced their new alphabetical overlord.
These images made the internet's inevitable crescendoes to absurdity beautiful. Beginning as an illustration for the "whomst" meme, the expanding brains quickly evolved into a template for other jabs at those boasting supposed intellectual superiority: "The earth is round." "No, it's flat!" "Actually... it's a cube." Boom.
Do you like pigs? What about oats? (Sorry: öats.) If you're a fan of them separately, you probably loved this inexplicable tweet combining the two. It became so popular earlier this year it led to a spamming practice called "oatposting," which had people saying bye to Dat Boi and hello to their new Prince of Random.
the only good moment of this inauguration is michelle jim-facing the camera like "why did she give me this box" pic.twitter.com/WoGAWfKS0l
Last December, Childish Gambino (also dba Donald Glover) released Awaken, My Love! The album's second single, "Redbone," would debut as a sleeper hit, the kind that, thanks to the "What 'Redbone' would sound like while X" meme, would give the song new life. The kind that would come full circle at Governors Ball, where Glover would reference said meme and make everyone explode.
person: so why should we accept you into harvard university? me: i watch rick and morty person: oh right this way sir,i apologise
Early this year, footage of a macaque getting a haircut went viral. The world immediately fell in love with the old soul trapped in the monkey's body, just trying to enjoy a fancy trim while the inevitable deluge of existential questions rocked it to its very core. Just look at that face. The video was already good, but then the monkey started getting Photoshopped onto famous screengrabs with... hands? Everywhere, basically. For a time it felt like no photo with hands was safe -- the kind of danger maybe you were OK with.
Late last year, The Dr. Phil Show unwittingly gave birth to a star, a 13-year-old girl who called members of the studio audience hoes and asked them to "catch her outside... how 'bout that?" The aggressive question has attained immortality in the form of a sassy but multipurpose comeback.
The rapper Young King Dave likes to enjoy the weather and let people know he has loud. At least that's what it looks like in this Instagram, which has gotten everything from a Family Guy edit to an autotune treatment.
The Force Awakens had BB-8. The Last Jedi will have the Porgs. When the cute creatures were introduced on the official Star Wars website, Lucasfilm Story Group's Pablo Hidalgo explained that they can "be found dwelling along the cliffs of the island where Luke and Rey are. In many ways, they're the Star Wars version of puffins. They build nests. They can fly." And, oh, baby, they can be memed! Enjoy now, because by the end of December, they'll surely be as divisive as Baby Groot.
In January, BuzzFeed published a report alleging that one of Trump's attorneys (Michael Cohen) had met with Kremlin officials in Prague. Cohen's response: a sick close-up of the front of his passport. The randomness of the rebuttal inspired countless copycat uploads -- all of which similarly made no sense.
Much of the internet wasn't thrilled with the idea of Trumpcare. To illustrate its frustration in simplest terms, the internet built a meme, a meme that starkly juxtaposed purity with disappointment, goodness with garbage, a meme that yelled, "Fuck that shit!"
In 2014, The Babadook terrified moviegoers. Then, in 2016, the movie found a home in Netflix's LGBT section. Now, the movie's title character is a queer icon, a hero who has made fans the world over Babashook.
Many were stoked when protesters in downtown Durham toppled a racist Confederate soldier statue. Actor James Woods was not, instead tweeting a pic of the Marine Corps War Memorial and writing, "Before the #liberals find a reason to deface, destroy or degrade this one, I thought some of you might like to see it one more time…" Woods, as you can see, missed the point -- something the #liberals #relished.
Republicans: Kneeling for the National Anthem is offensive. Trump: What if I throw paper towels at hurricane survivors? pic.twitter.com/p8aofglDIc
At the end of June, one of Trump's minions embarked on a mission: Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, clean Donald Trump's vandalized star, and send a passive-aggressive message to the opposition. "Nothing but respect for MY President," the minion tweeted, before adding the hashtag "#RaisedRight." The outcome of this mission? The emergence of greater heroes and more appropriate idols.
Volume sliders: those things you click or drag your mouse on to get more volume or less volume. Simple. Intuitive. Great. Well, not anymore. Thanks to PM_ME_YOUR_WATERMELO, who asked, "Who can make the best volume slider?" in the ProgrammerHumor subreddit, alongside a counterintuitive slider, other creative Redditors have abandoned simplicity and embraced absurdity to create volume not-sliders. Yes. It's all very bad. But sometimes it's good to be bad.
When Robbie Tripp posted a love letter to his wife and her "curvy body" on Instagram, it went viral, prompting mixed reactions and taking on a life of its own. To quote Jezebel: "Rage gave way to a pretty decent set of memes."
(Warning: The links and origins associated with this entry are NSFW.) Your friend gives birth to a beautiful baby boy. What do you say? Obviously: "Are you serious?! Right in front of my salad?" That same incredulous reaction, which came from a porno extra, is already one of the year's most memorable quotes, partly because of its context but mainly because of its surprising versatility.
In March 2013, actor Danny DeVito tweeted "Antonin Scalia retire bitch." His reasons for doing so are still unclear. But four years later, the concise demand has bloomed into a popular refrain, a call for controversial men, especially politicians, to cut their bullshit and pack it in.
Since taking office, President Trump has found a new favorite hobby: signing executive orders. The internet's way of dealing with this has been to turn all his fancy black folders into silly statements and rudimentary doodles. Say what you want, but this walking Ralph Steadman cartoon can draw.
When you grab the McDonalds and eat a little bit out of everybody's fries then take the one you didn't touch pic.twitter.com/vHcXPQv3KW
At the end of May, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Saudi Arabia's King Salman, and our very own President Trump joined forces to do some very good orb touching. Photos were snapped, a mystery born -- WHAT IS ORB??? -- paving the way for apt comparisons (like Bill Kristol's Macbeth reference) and poignant insights (you know "orb" is "bro" spelled backwards, right, bro?). To this day: SOS.
When far-right Twitter user @polNewsNetwork1 tweeted a photo of a drag queen sitting next to a woman in a niqab in a New York subway car, deriding the image as "the future that liberals want," said liberals clapped back by celebrating diversity and offering self-aware visions of their own utopias. (Enter dogs, superheroes, Guy Fieri.) "I hope one day that a picture of a woman in modesty garb sitting next to a colorful drag queen isn't out of the ordinary," the drag queen in the original picture, Gilda Wabbit, told BuzzFeed News, "that it's everyday life for everyone!"
The hilariously truncated version of "he protects, but he also attacks" got a second wind this year when memelords introduced a third panel to its initial two-panel set-up. Now the best way to win a fight is with a good fun fact.
8. "Man's not hot" / "The ting goes"
At the end of August, comedian Michael Dapaah brought some characters to BBC Radio's 1Xtra for a fun "Fire in the Booth" session. His resulting Big Shaq freestyle parodied U.K. gangster stereotypes and birthed two great memes: the "man's not hot" retort and a surprisingly long string of gunshot onomatopoeias -- both ripe for overdubbing (above) and remixing.
The Bag Raiders' "Shooting Star" song is now more than just a song -- this year it became a salute to someone special, someone the internet sent flying, flipping, or falling into a void. It was the soundtrack of a great video meme, proof that, yeah, we're dying without Vine (RIP), but we're not completely dead yet. In other words, the soundtrack of hope.
Thanks to Dash Tsushï and other Twitter users, 2015 SAG Awards Meryl became one of social media's most ubiquitous concertgoers, completing or echoing the iconic lyrics to damn near everything with the infectious enthusiasm of a nostalgic mom. Be grateful all these exist -- especially the ones with "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Bill Nye.
SpongeBob, ever the meme supplier, was once in a bizarre episode in which he responded to things like a chicken. You know how Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer disses reporters by repeating their questions back to them in a mocking tone? That's basically SpongeChick. Weird text overlays do the rest.
Last summer, while playing the character R.S. (aka Roll Safe) in the BBC Three's #HoodDocumentary series, actor Kayode Ewumi made a coded oral sex quip. The screengrab of that moment is now, and forever, your best-worst source of advice.
Shot by Antonio Guillem, the stock photo "Disloyal Man Walking With His Girlfriend and Looking Amazed at Another Seductive Girl" depicts... just that. The Meme Documentation Tumblr traces its birth as an image-macro meme back to as early as January, but it didn't explode until it hit Twitter this summer, functioning as a metaphor for pretty much anything involving competing desires, getting remixed with other memes, and folding in on itself in that inevitably meta way. "I do not really have the time to follow these things," the guy in the pic told SelectAll, "but for what I have seen, I can say that it's crazy what people can imagine."
Baffled by something? Blindsided by someone's idiocy? The virtuosic blinks of Drew Scanlon were there for you. This GIF was quickly called the internet's "most relatable meme," and by December, Tenor's most-used GIF of the year. You might have had to be a gaming fan to recognize its origins, but after it exploded, it became a simple meme that could be used as a punchline or reaction by anyone. Retired football player Terrell Owens proved that when addressing his Hall of Fame snub; same with Ava DuVernay, Stephen Colbert, countless other Twitter users, and this Dutch talk show. "I think the pervasiveness of it also has to do with the fact that there are so many crazy things happening in 2017," Scanlon, the man whose face you're looking at, told Thrillist. Fair. In just a few seconds, those blinks perfectly encapsulated how we felt at several points during this wild, crazy, and often incomprehensible year.