The 108 Best Memes of 2018
2018's memes had big shoes to fill -- it's tough to beat a year of blinking guy, Salt Bae, and disrespectful boyfriend. But if there's one thing we've learned about years, it's that each one somehow manages to become more and more befuddling than the last. So as we continue to make sense (and light) of our hell world, here are a mere handful of the memes we've enjoyed throughout the year, a log we've painstakingly updated, as a nice respite from, you know, all the other stuff.
Check out the best memes of 2017 here.
Off RampsA Photoshopped still from this "How to exit freeway like a boss" video became the new "I should probably not do this, but fuck it, I'm doing this."
Or, you could just point to the moment Kylo Ren showed everyone his high pants, the most correct. They didn't quite touch the nips, but almost (!), and thanks to the challenges and mysteries that followed, fans won't soon forget.
Google Arts & Culture selfiesHow many famous paintings is your face in? None, but Google sought to fudge the month-old question with a selfie feature on its Arts & Culture app, which used facial recognition technology to match your mug with a similar-ish-looking one in a renowned portrait hanging somewhere in a museum. People tried to enjoy this thing -- "Google Figures Out How to Make People Care About Art: Selfies," sang Bloomberg, and "Google's Art Selfies Are Fun but Stir Up Potential Privacy Concerns," said Adweek (very hard to fully enjoy things these days) -- before getting creative. Added Apollo, god of the arts: "Please stop."
Michaela CoelGiven its subject matter, Black Mirror episodes always seem ripe for the memeing. Though the late 2017 release of Season 4 saw some good ones come out of "Metalhead" and "Black Museum," this Michaela Coel's screengrab from "USS Callister" was the true MVP.
The #Girther movementThanking Chris Hayes for a meme might feel as wrong as thanking a parent for drugs, but here we are. Thank you, Mr. Hayes. After the head of the Donald Trump Rockin' Bod fan club told reporters our president was in excellent shape, the MSNBC host coined the term "girther" for "those who believe the president weighs more than his doctor reports." Hayes hasn't been knighted yet, because we don't do that sort of thing here, but the comparisons that sprang from his noble public service were the tiniest, not-at-all-equitable bit of karma for the man who was a major player in the racist birther movement.
#BlackHogwartsThe casual fanfiction that resulted from this hashtag was great, but best of all, we learned that the surreal comedy duo known as The Lucas Brothers wrote an animated show where they get stuck in a magical HBCU. (We need it now.)
Absolute unitRight before the end of 2017, British hotelier David Morgan-Hewitt inspired what some call the successor to the reckless "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; that men may break with patrilineal pressure, becoming something other than bumbling junior apprentice. Unlike large adult sons, the unit isn’t bound by the inconvenience of gender. Properly speaking, the absolute unit needn’t be masculine, or even human -- just absolute." Behold, marvel away.
Karma's a bitchNear the end of the month, we got this fun, mostly wholesome, endlessly rewatchable challenge, in which participants lip-sync Veronica's now-infamous line from Riverdale Season 2, toss something in front of their face, and transform into some sort of fierce alter ego. Turns out revenge is a dish best served… with a new face?
What's your child texting about?Worried about what your kids are really discussing online? It can be hard to keep up with teens, their ever-changing trends, and their mystifying slanguage. Fear not. Taking a page out of this influential decoder's book, internet heroes have -- thankfully! -- been doing the Lord's work, unmasking classic acronyms and abbreviations and revealing what they truly are. At least for very specific cliques.
My FBI agentEdward Snowden. Charlie Brooker. A gentle but consistent stream of hacking news. Whether because of pop culture or current events, many internet users now seem carelessly aware that someone might be spying on them through their phones and laptops. Cause for panic? No, more like, Wow, someone's spying on me? Hello, new friend! Though these jokes have been floating around for a few months, it hasn't been until recently that they've really taken hold. Fortunately, everyone seems to have a better relationship with the person spying on them than the kid in that one Black Mirror episode.
FEBRUARYThough February flew by, it was a month punctuated by major events. The Super Bowl. The Grammys. The second coming of the Green M&M. All delivered, in one way or another, unless you were rooting for Kendrick Lamar to win Album of the Year.
Precious When You SmileBazzi's "Mine" came out last year, but the song has gotten new life in recent months thanks to a floating-heart filter from Snapchat. In other words, a match made in heaven.
Super Bowl selfie kidThe Super Bowl yielded several great internet moments, but the standout was this kid who, near the end of Justin Timberlake's halftime extravaganza, quickly fumbled for his phone and tried to snag some "Super Bowl Selfies!" “I just thought to myself, ‘I’ll never get this opportunity again in my whole life,'” the kid told the Pioneer Press. “I just went for it.” On the inside, he was apparently excited, but on the outside, it looked like he was furiously preoccupied with everything from "Cat Person" and Scientology to the strange fact that someone who may or may not have been Ellen DeGeneres was standing right next to him.
Bullet ManOutside the Alpensia Ski Jumping Center in PyeongChang, South Korea, stand Diglett's cousins, three silver statues of helmeted muscle-men, aka "Bullet Men." They are naked. They are phallic. They are one of the best highlights to come out of this year's Winter Olympics. Because when they're not busy standing still, they are getting memed to hell and back.
"I pledge to work for free"Joining the passionate chorus of psychos advocating for more weapons in schools, Twitter user CarlosCruz2016 posted a picture of himself, sporting weapons and combat gear, with the caption: "I PLEDGE TO WORK FOR FREE for any school to help secure the children. I am a 29 year retired veteran, Infantry Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Ranger with combat experience. I have a conceal carry, Primary and Alternate side arms, an AR-15, and all necessary tactical gear." It sounded like the kind of bold, declarative, ultimately insane tweet James Woods might write. It wasn't, but it still got mercilessly sent up by the internet.
Gym KardashianIn an alternate universe, Popeye and Kris Jenner raised a kid. Her name? Gym Kardashian.
Change my mindOn February 16, conservative "comedian" Steven Crowder set up a table on Texas Christian University's campus with a sign that read, "Male privilege is a myth. Change my mind." He then tweeted a pic of himself at said table, holding a coffee mug, grinning hesitantly. It's unclear if anyone changed his mind, but plenty changed his sign.
Savage PatrickA little like Evil Kermit, but Patrick.
Jennifer Garner clapping at the OscarsMove over, Meryl. (Yes, you managed to one-up your old meme, a wildly impressive but also extremely expected feat.) Jennifer Garner, clapping at the Oscars like a dying Energizer Bunny who realized it left the oven on and maybe burned down the house, is our new hero.
"Infinity War is the most ambitious crossover event in history"Is it?
For the Damaged CodaIn the 10th episode of Rick and Morty, as (spoiler alert!) Evil Morty doffs his eye patch and reveals his, you know, evildoing, Blonde Redhead's "For the Damaged Coda" blares. It's an exclamation point for the horror show that is "Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind." That twist, though! We loved it. We also love that the needle drop lives on as the soundtrack for the world’s other most punishing twists.
Squinting womanIt's another heartwearming story of an average human being thirsty for likes, just like you and me, becoming a viral meme. Twitter user @solo_kalin posted a behind-the-scenes photo of an Instagram photo shoot where she was twisted up into some tough-to-hold poses in 4" heels. Her exasperation is real!
Here we are. April, so cruel a month that this year it probably messed with your concept of spring, made you reconsider your plans for an apocalypse bunker, and (re-)birthed the lame "If You Can't Handle Me at My X" thing. WILD. As for that last point, though, the internet's gatekeeper, Chrissy Teigen, thankfully dubbed the rehash done before it could really restart, and we don’t need to talk about it much more because, truly, stranger shit happened:
SparklesFrom whence came these magical Twitter sparkles? And why? We know not, but we hope the forecast calls for more.
Rihanna's Body LavaTo promote her new body lava, the singer... applied it. But wait a sec. Promotion? Or challenge? Many viewed it as the latter, grabbing whatever they could -- mop, boot, pupper -- and doing their best to out-apply her.
Mark ZuckerbergNear the beginning of the month, the world got to see Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of Congress about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The event gave the man known as Zucc majorly renewed meme interest (see: Zucc juice, booster seats, and robot quips, among many other things). Most importantly, though, we learned that Zucc not protec, Zucc not attac, instead he just get super thicc.
Who killed Hannibal?Nowadays, everyone's a hypocrite.
Floating boy chasing running boySad this meme doesn't have a catchier name because this confounding dorm room moment deserves better.
ДpyrA Creepy Deathclaw from Fallout or… a mild-mannered outsider who just wants to feel seen? Judge for yourself, but we think Дpyr (i.e., "friend") is tragically misunderstood.
GorlsWhere were you when the world went gorl crazy?
We live in a societyIf you're having trouble grasping the context and use of this, just think back to the "you vs. the guy she tells you not to worry about" meme. Twist that to fit under-appreciated cultural artifacts vs. its viral analogue and you've got it down. More or less.
Stairwell KermitThe Kermit memes were getting darker, but we never thought it would come to this );
Waluigi's Smash SnubEarlier this summer, Super Smash Bros. fans were gifted the news that the franchise's much-anticipated Ultimate title would include "everyone" that had previously been playable. (Not to mention some notable newcomers.) What a party! Sadly, it appears someone's invite got lost in the mail: none other than the Nintendo meme king himself, Waluigi. An injustice. A travesty -- one that generated endless wah-ing, a tribute, and a Netflix show that we need ASAP.
The most successful people I've metIf you've used the internet in the last... since it's been around, you might have noticed earnestness doesn't always fare very well. Twitter user "Pomp" learned this truth the hard way earlier in the summer when he listed the habits of the most successful people he's met. The tweet offered tips that ranged from the concrete ("Workout daily") to the more abstract ("Have laser focus," "Demand excellence in everything they do"). The list was helpful, inspiring, and, of course, ripe for mocking.
Senegal's CoachThe World Cup giveth and the World Cup taketh away. We know this truth to be self-evident, but when the tournament giveth, it giveth some truly, truly Good Things. Case in point: Senegal coach Aliou Cissé, whose celebration (and basically everything else he did) during his team's 2-1 victory over Poland, became the best meme of the 2018 World Cup yet.
Boar VesselAt the end of 2012, some generous soul uploaded a pic of this sculpture, from the Cleveland Museum of Art, to Wikimedia Commons, describing it, succinctly, as "Boar Vessel, 600-500 BC, Etruscan, ceramic." Little did the uploader know, this picture would one day become the gift that, for some reason, kept on giving. Indeed, it's taken a while to pick up steam, but now, kind of like 2018's version of "öats," it's become everyone's most (inexplicably) prized possession. The new King of Random even has its own subreddit.
Ye album coversKanye West put out his new album Ye on June 1. The music is fine, but more important than that is all the memes the cover -- which says "I hate being Bi-Polar / its awesome" -- inspired. It's reminiscent of 2015's If You're Reading This It's Too Late meme.
*slaps roof of car*Yet another meme that lived a past life in 2014, *slaps roof of car* has rolled back around the block as the primary template for snake oil salesmanship.
Young Thug on the computerHere's Young Thug hard at work on probably a fire track with Lil Durk to his right, our left, who happens to look like he's hacking the mainframe.
Big Dick EnergyBig Dick Energy was born when Ariana Grande got to tweeting some of Pete Davidson's personal stats. In short, Big Dick Energy defined means confidence without being arrogant, cool without trying too hard, chill without being directionless. Big Dick Energy is a certain je ne sais quoi a person exudes. A big dick is not actually required to possess this elusive quality.
Polite catThough the image originated on 9gag, this (very fake) text exchange between a renter with a (definitely photoshopped) derpy-faced cat and the chillest landlord of all time kicked off the Polite Cat meme.
Howard the alienThe goofy looking grey alien dancing to a deep-fried version of Lil Uzi Vert's "Money Longer" cannot really be explained… it can only be experienced.
HandshakesThe two strong men engaged in this very masculine handshake is actually a fan illustration uploaded to deviantART in 2012 of a scene from 1987's Predator. Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) turns to find his old buddy Dillon (Carl Weathers) waiting for him, exclaiming "Dillon! You son of a bitch." The buff men approach and engage in a friendly strongman handshake, the shot lingering on the interlocking arms to emphasize just how ripped The Arnold and Weathers are. The image became a true meme in May when the confounding revelation that Elon Musk and Grimes were dating, but it didn't quite take off widely until months later. Such is the way of the meme. Use handshakes to demonstrate the mutual interests of two seemingly opposing factions. Subgenres of the handshake meme include business handshakes, close-up handshakes, multi-person wrist-grabbing orgy, fists in, and holding hands.
Parody Elon Musk accountsThe unhinged technolibertarian CEO of Telsa is known to fire off tweets like throwing pennies into a wishing well, which usually turns his dumbass comments into "Elon Musk said what??" kind of viral moments. Clever Twitter users capitalized on his oft-confounding opinions into stereotypical nationality + Elon Musk accounts (Italian Elon Musk, French Élon Musque) to dutifully mock the guy. Soon after, Twitter started temporarily banning any users with "Elon Musk" in their display names, allegedly to crack down on crypto scamming. All accounts were short-lived, but they were an indelible presence for their all-too-brief lives.
The Aquaman posterJason Momoa is Aquaman! The first images for this DC Comics adaptation were released mid-July, and boy oh boy, did the internet have its hayday with the confluence of stock fish images the poster relied on for its packed underworld of sea creatures.
Melania gardeningShe has definitely never done any manual labor for one day of her life.
Give Carly Rae Jepsen a swordTumblr user asketh, Carly Rae Jepsen receiveth. A social media campaign that started on Tumblr via u/swordlesbianopinions, demanding the pop icon get a sword, migrated to Twitter spawning various accounts and plenty of fan art. The prophecy was fulfilled at Lollapallooza in early August: During "Cut to the Feeling," a fan handed Carly Rae Jepsen a goddamn inflatable sword. Rarely do we see follow through of a meme like this!
Bibble singingBibble, for those of us who don't keep up with the Barbie movie canon, is a talking (?) pet (?) fairy (?) that follows Barbie and her crew doing whatever they do in the Barbie Cinematic Universe. The deep-fried meme was specifically screenshotted from 2006's Barbie: Mermadia, where Bibble discovers magic berries that compel him to sing, sing, sing! Use Bibble anytime you want to belt out your embarrassing favorite songs from your youth free of remorse or shame.
"Hurt me""Things during sex" has been a popular theme for memes this year; the "hurt me" format is just another in a string of too-real jokes on Twitter.
Tony Hawk's Pro SkaterThe covers of these iconic skate video games are the templates for whatever the hell you want them to be.
To All The Boys…In August, Netflix released its latest in a string of rom-com movies, Jenny Han's adapted YA novel To All the Boys I've Loved Before. Naturally, the mouthful of a title was co-opted by Online in a selective instance of Good, Nihilist Fandom. Runner up in TATBILB memedom is a universal obsession with leading heartthrob, Peter Kavinsky.
Johnny Johnny Yes PapaJohnny Johnny Yes Papa, a deranged nursery rhyme about eating sugar loosely set to the melody of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," is brain-meltingly troubling, absurd, and stupid. The original Johnny Johnny song dates back to a 2012 animated YouTube video starring a bootleg Peter Griffin and a random weepy kid. Following iterations of JJYP have improved on the song, the imagery, and the characters, leading to an entire genre of YouTube videos (one of which has become one of the most-watched viral videos of the year) and a whole subreddit devoted to sharing them. It officially became a 2018 meme when a clip surfaced on Twitter; the disproportionately large-headed baby and his mustachioed pa-PA broke everyone's brain, sending them into a descending spiral of madness. One cannot truly describe the stifling viscerality of Johnny Johnny Yes Papa; one must experience it for oneself.
Celebrity full namesThe Rock's full name is Theodore Rockefeller. Lil Pump's real name is Lilliam Pumpanickel. 50 Cent's full name is 50th Century. Thanks to this Google screenshot meme, which dates back to a blip in 2015, we know these to be definitely true and not verifiably false facts about celebs' names.
Really start dressinThe start of fall means more layers, baby!! Oversized everything (coats, shoes, hats, scarves, etc.) became the visual cues for the seasonal shifts when people get to really start dressin.
Do Y'all Hear SumnOf the multitude of Spongebob memes, Squidward hadn't yet had his breakout moment until Do Y'all Hear Sumn came along. Taking his characteristic no-fucks-given attitude and applying it in situations we simply can't deal with, Do Y'all Hear Sumn works across any cartoon character with a scowl.
A Star is BornThe thrice-remade movie about building up a singular talent starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga had only released a trailer when the memes started appearing. Everything from press appearances (where name placards read "B. Cooper" and "L. Gaga") to trailer mashups to screenshotted images macros have flourished across the internet, making A Star Is Born likely the most memed movie of all time.
Colin Kaepernick's Nike adIn early September, Nike released the latest version of its Just Do It campaign featuring the face of Colin Kaepernick, who has effectively been blacklisted from the NFL for peacefully protesting police brutality against African-Americans by taking a knee during the national anthem, underneath the slogan, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." Reactionary conservatives (starting with Alec Baldwin) quickly jumped on the ad, making their own bad versions (see: Mike Huckabee, et al.) and destroying their Nike products to boycott the brand (which failed: Nike has made $6 billion since the ad came out). But everyone else came to play, too, which resulted in some seriously sick burns of the people setting their Nike shoes on fire, and dank memes.
Elon Musk smoking weedAs if the world needed another reason to think about Elon Musk pretending that he's a "cool, down-to-earth guy," he went onto Joe Rogan's podcast and smoked some weed. Remember, Musk basically credits this very chill pastime to his not-so-new girlfriend, Claire Boucher, aka the musician Grimes.
Bongo catIt's a cute little guy that plays various musical instruments! This isn't a reference to anything; a flailing Rogu (that's the cat's name) was drawn and animated by Twitter user @StrayRogue back in May, and in September, u/DitzyFlama uploaded a video of Rogu banging on some bongos to YouTube. The remixes came rolling in shortly after.
Netflix adaptationsNetflix is notorious for producing piles of B-level movies, and its inconsistent quality of programming is responsible for this meme, which, in its purest form, escalates from "Manga" to "Anime" to "Netflix adaptation," the jankiest-looking of all.
MothsMoths are drawn to lamps. Why did this specific reddit user-captured photo of a glowing-eyed moth spawned a meme genre? I dunno, why do moths like light, man?
"Why do good girls like bad guys"Tik Tok, F.K.A. Musical.ly, is a hell app where people essentially make looping videos of themselves lip-syncing to short clips of songs or user-uploaded material. It's basically Vine minus most of the originality and magic that went into making the defunct app good. This "challenge" -- set to a specific line from the 2012 song "Good Girls Bad Guys" by Falling In Reverse, a nu-core band of former theater kids with shitty haircuts -- swept Tik Tok in late summer as a less good version of "Karma's a bitch" (see: January).
"Party Rock Anthem" BPMJog your memory back to 2011, when uncle-nephew DJ duo LMFAO was inescapable, particularly song of summer "Party Rock Anthem." OK, now come back to 2018 where the dance apocalypse video for the earworm has been hijacked for this very good meme where people figured out that tons of other anachronistic songs (ie. Neon Genesis Evangelion theme, Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," etc.) have the exact same beats per minute of "Party Rock Anthem," and set them to the choreography during the main riff of the song you wish you could forget.
"Da-me"Back on Tik Tok, "ways to say 'dame'" took off, especially within the cosplaying community. "Dame" (pronounced "dah-meh") is Japanese for "bad" or "no good," and this unsourced song is a lesson in different ways a person could express criticism with it (ie. cute, like a machine, with an echo, strangely, etc.). The internet, what a place!!!!!!!
Jordan Peele's Obama meet and greetThis newly object labeled Obama sketch from Key & Peele back in 2014 won the approval of Jordan Peele himself. That's how you know it's quality.
Weird flex but okThis catchphrase has existed in the online lexicon for some time, but it wasn't until September 2018 that it harnessed its true purpose: owning huge dumbasses for bragging about incredibly inane things (see: above tweet). Now it's so popular, you'll hear it casually dropped in real-life conversations with even the biggest normie you know.
September 30th vs. October 1stThe internet loves the spooky month, and to commemorate: a meme.
Fat Bear WeekOK, so Fat Bear Week is exactly what you'd expect it'd be: a celebration of the fattest bears who, gearing up for hibernation this winter, can't and won't stop eating enormous amounts of food several times their bodyweight. Specifically, this pertains to the bears residing in Katmai National Park in Alaska, where the geniuses who run the park's social media presence drew up a March Madness-like bracket to get people to tune into their live nature feeds. A singular day in 2015 expanded to a week due to the public's ravenous response to the fattest bears in America. This isn't as much of a meme as is it a lifestyle.
Let's get this breadEveryone was perfectly content to leave the hustler mantra "let's get this bread" back in the year it belongs (2007, thanks for asking) until World Bread Day reared its ugly head to haunt us all.
ChonkA profoundly large cat is heretofore known as a "chonk."
Voting in 2016 vs. voting in 2018It's been a real doozy these past two years.
Surprised PikachuThis screenshot of Pikachu from Season 1 of the original Pokémon TV series floated around the Tumblr-sphere for a month or so before its breakthrough moment when the super-cute Detective Pikachu trailer was released in November.
He's not your manThe ol' bait and switch!
Video killed the radio starThis meme is dark, so of course it would provide a perfect template for conspiracy theories and generally taboo topics in a palatable format relying on the classic Buggles' hit, "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Iguana dinner dateIggy the iguana just couldn't keep it together during the salad course of dinner with his owner Conner. Don't worry, though: Iggy might have taken a hard fall, but according to Conner, he's totally fine.
"Female-presenting nipples"On December 3, Tumblr announced that it was going to start banning adult content, including "images, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples." The backlash, outside of the legitimate outrage at the blogging platform's decision to censor content that drove a fifth of its monthly traffic, centered mostly around the confounding phrase "female-presenting nipples," because what does that even mean?
Stop using anti-animal languageThe People agree: PETA officially took their activism too far with a chart about how to be less "speciesist" in idioms.
Sonic the HedgehogIf you haven't heard yet, we're getting a Sonic the Hedgehog movie in 2019, with Sonic voiced by comedian Ben Schwartz, who had a very funny appearance on Larry King Now. The most disturbing of the new Sonic memes: probably his beefy legs!
Individual 1It's the president!!!!!
"[X] is a Christmas movie"This season of yuletide, people decided to resurrect the bad and boring debate: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? The answer is, who cares!!! The Christmas Dialogue Fatigue resulted in psychotic spillover that progressed from crowning movies that sort've have the holidays in the background as Christmas movies to calling Venom a Christmas movie.
Guys are disgustingFirst it was apartments. Then, it was the bathrooms. Men, get your shit together.
Turtleneck sweater dogsThe coziest, most chic Turkish greyhounds on the internet.
This post has been updated throughout.