Memes may come and go, but the act of memeing will never die as long as the Internet exists and we can share photos of the Distracted Boyfriend and the Blinking White Guy with all of our extremely online friends. The problem, though, is that with the memes coming in rapid fire, so many of them suck, or everybody ends up latching onto the same joke. So instead of bloating this year-long list with bad, unfunny memes your friends will hate you for sharing, we're only including the dankest. Here, now, are the best of what 2019 has to offer so far. Things have already gotten extremely weird.
Check back throughout the year for updates and ranking reshuffles. If you want to revisit some old favorites, here's our list of the best memes from 2018.
2019 Oscar Picks for the 91st Academy Awards
16. The world record egg
If you haven't heard of The Egg by now, you have a blissfully unbothered relationship with social media. At the beginning of this year, one humble Instagram account set out to do the unimaginable: become more popular than the social network's reigning queen, Kylie Jenner. Against all odds, The Egg handily beat its competition, collecting more than 10 million followers and nearly 53 million faves at time of publication. Naturally, it was memed.
15. Powerful Shaggy
Who the hell knows why people thought it'd be a good idea to turn Shaggy into a Super Saiyan, but here we are. Though this confounding Dragon Ball/Scooby Doo crossover was first memed in 2017, it was revived in early 2019 with fervor. (The release of the new movie Dragon Ball Super: Broly probably had something to do with it.) Version 1 of Ultra Instinct Shaggy was all about the cartoon version of Scooby Doo, and while that's still in play here, Version 2 has introduced Matthew Lillard's live action Shaggy into the mix, morphing the meme into Powerful Shaggy.
14. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform "Shallow" at the Oscars
This year's Oscar ceremony was pretty breezy and mostly fun, aside from some ill-advised wins but it was Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga who stole the night, obviously, with their rendition of "Shallow," not yet the Oscar-winning Best Original Song from A Star Is Born. Towards the end of their intimate, mesmerizing performance that was apparently planned for months, Cooper sets his mic down and walks over to sit next to Gaga at the piano, leaning in so their two faces become one and they NEARLY start making out right there in the middle of the Dolby Theatre. We all know this couple. We're friends with this couple, or we've seen them getting weird in public at, like, a Panera or something, and for Cooper and Gaga to replicate this exact feeling on-screen in front of millions of people... well, that's talent. And a meme.
13. Buff ASCII sheriff
Take the emoji sheriff, and make him buff. Then, run him through the ASCII generator, and voila: the buff sheriff. Not to be outdone by fellow ASCII memes of early 2019, ASCII tea, ASCII blade, and last but absolutely not least, ASCII buff bunnies.
12. "Act My Age"
Back in 2014 AD, we still had Vine, and therefore joy. That's where this video comes from: Viner Aspect Za'Vier rounded up his brother and mom, who is a choreographer, to film his first-ever Vine video to the opening of One Direction's song "Act My Age." Unlike any of our first Vine posts, Aspect Za'Vier's went viral. After having secondary acclaim in 2017, the video is back in 2019 for more jokes. Memes never die.
11. Choking Sasuke
"Who is this anime guy and why is he a meme?" you might be asking, especially if you're unfamiliar with the incredibly popular series Naruto. We can answer the first part: Sasuke Uchiha is a major player in the anime and manga who's made it his life's mission to kill his older, estranged brother, Itachi, for slaughtering their clan. Not cool! This specific still comes from a scene early-ish in the series, where Itachi comes for Sasuke and the two get into a kerfuffle that does not go well for Sasuke. He ends up getting choked out by his brother, who says to him, "You are weak because you don't have enough hate." As for that second question, why -- honestly who knows. The internet is a weird, unknowable place, man.
10. "...and it SHOWS"
The kind of disgruntled non-sequitur language that has permeated websites like Tumblr for nearly a decade finally made its way onto the main stage of the Internet this year with "...and it shows," a relatable content meme that'll have you saying "*I* do that" at your screens for days, whether it's being squeezed out of your clique while walking on the sidewalk or holding the flashlight for your dad while he yelled at a car.
9. The return of kids' YouTube
Kids' YouTube is riddled with weird ass videos definitely made by shady algorithms from channels with origins veiled in subterfuge. Some of these low-budget CGI videos should absolutely not be seen by children under any circumstance, and others are 10 minutes of rainbow animals that walk through a fountain car wash thing and come out the other side as different rainbow animals walking to bumping house music like it's a fashion catwalk. Whatever the educational purpose of the latter is meant to be, watching them is totally engrossing, especially and specifically for adult audiences with broken brains.
8. Autotune cats
Cats are especially weird, which means they can be made to do very funny things. That's why, seemingly simultaneously, a bunch of people came up with the idea to turn their kitties into pop stars by shoving reverb-y mics into their disapproving little faces or autotuning them when they refuse to shut up. At least, if your cat insists on waking you up at a time that doesn't exist, like 4 in the freakin' morning, you can take some joy out of the situation.
7. Sparking joy
Since New Years, "KonMari"-ing has gone from a controversial decluttering tactic to an embraced household method of purging the shit you don't need anymore, thanks to Tidying Up with Marie Kondo that dropped on Netflix January 1. A significant tenet of Marie Kondo's organizational belief system is "sparking joy," and whether or not an object does drives one's decision to keep said object or thank it out loud and let it go. Turning the catchphrase into a meme was low-hanging fruit; it was basically destined to be used for people to make dumb jokes online from the second everyone became obsessed with the reality series.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, aside from being hands-down one of the best animated movies in years, managed to spark a meme of its own, taken from a screenshot of two of the Spider-people crouching down for a quick think. Taking the format of the Distracted Boyfriend meme from 2018, the overlaid text could be anything, from you listening to your friend talk about their weird obsession to… holding the flashlight for your dad while he yelled at a car.
5. I made queso
Yikes. Fox News co-host and chef(?) Dana Perino upset everyone who wasn't already wringing their hands during Super Bowl Sunday with her photo of a cursed queso that swiftly went viral thanks to how freakin' gross it looked. Naturally, the comedians of the Internet rushed to post photos of their own "queso," each nastier and more inedible than the next.
4. "Let me in!"
In 2016, comedian Eric Andre tried his hardest to get into the Democratic National Convention (ahh, simpler times) but, since his "press pass" had been "revoked," he had to settle for banging on the fence and crashing a protest outside the doors. Nearly three years later, a clip from this segment of The Eric Andre Show has become an especially deranged meme, involving a relatable situation -- such as the deep, primal urge to bang Count Dracula himself, or cats trying to claw into your room -- and Andre wetly screaming "LET ME IIIIIIN!!"
3. "Hit or Miss"
If you were to yell "HIT OR MISS" in an area where teenagers are known to congregate, there is a very, very, very good chance that you'll be answered with, "I BET YOU NEVER MISS, HUH?" (That call and response is known as the "Hit or Miss" Challenge.) How and why this 13-second chunk of whiny rap blew up is several layers deep: The verse comes from the song "Mia Khalifa" by iLOVEFRiDAY, an Atlanta hip hop duo made up of the couple Smoke Hijabi and Xeno Carr, who wrote it as a diss track about the porn star Mia Khalifa after a fake tweet accused Smoke of being a bad Muslim for smoking what looks like a blunt while wearing a hijab in a video for the group's song "Hate Me." "Mia Khalifa" itself came out in early 2018, but it wasn't until November that it first became A Thing on TikTok after popular dubber Nyannyancosplay recorded a video of herself lip syncing to it in November 2018. Though it may have originated last year, "Hit or Miss" is still very much a 2019 meme as it finds new ways to evolve out of its initial context and into something that every young person knows. Also, it's really funny.
2. Shen Yun
There are almost as many Shen Yun memes as there are ads for the actual show. Shen Yun describes itself as a music and dance performance that showcases millennia of Chinese culture, and its ads, usually featuring a lady mid-leap with a beatific smile, are everywhere. Everywhere. If you're a human living in America, it's more than likely that you have seen a Shen Yun ad, which is why this extremely regional meme grew to such prominence online. After all, who are we to underestimate 5,000 years of civilization reborn?
1. "Someone Like You" crowd singalong
It goes by many names -- the gummy bear challenge, Adele Challenge -- but the meme that blew up among the TikTok set all has the same genius setup: Audio taken from a live performance of "Someone Like You," Adele starts the line of the chorus, "Nevermind, I'll find--," and kicks it over to her legions of fans singing back at her, "--someone like youuu / I wish nothing but the best for youuuu toooo." Video-wise, the shot starts on "Adele," which in this meme, is one kind of thing (it started with Haribo gummy bears but it can literally be anything), and pans over to "the crowd," a sea of that same thing -- for example, 200 gummy bears, iPhones, grass. Whatever you want it to be! This can even exist in virtual worlds, ie. Fortnite or The Sims! For some reason, watching variations on this is never not funny and good, thus capturing our cold dead hearts and the number one spot for the meme of the year so far.
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