The Best Memes of 2020 (So Far)
Good memes only.
The memes, they never stop. We've barely scratched the surface of the new year -- nay, decade -- and already there have been enough new internet jokes to hold us over for a good long while. Alas, we can't ask everyone to please stop memeing, especially given the decreasing shelf life of how long jokes stay funny for, so we remain committed to keeping up with this breakneck cycle for the sake of handy content. We'll be updating this list regularly so you can always be the funniest, most relevant person on your feeds.
┏━━┓┏━━┓┏━━┓┏━━┓— Ed Solomon (@ed_solomon) December 31, 2019
36. 2020 ASCII
Remember when we thought that 2020 was going to be a good year for a change?
35. Broom challenge
First off, let's clear the air here: this whole thing is a hoax; a broom cannot stand upright on its own due to the gravitational forces of Saturn and Venus on one day only -- NASA even says so. So why did we start taking videos of brooms standing upright on their own? If you forgot (I did), we tried this in 2012 and memes tend to come full circle at one point or another, so here we are, with another Twitter user (@mikaiylaaaaa) going viral for doing the broom challenge.
34. LinkedIn / Facebook / Instagram / Tinder
Also known as the #DollyPartonChallenge, this was quite literally inspired by a post by Parton herself, which is where this meme should have ended; it remains the only good one of these. Alas, that's not how it works on the internet, and so our timelines were treated to lots of four-panel appropriate profile pics for the social media sites.
33. Which character are you?
The first big Instagram trend of the year was this interactive face camera filter that told you which Pokémon you were based on… who knows! Other custom effects dupes popped up shortly after, like "Which inanimate object are you?", "Which Sailor Moon character are you?", and "Which Disney character are you?" like the video above from Robin Williams' daughter, who appropriately gets the Genie from Aladdin.
32. D.W. holding fence
In much of the country, Americans are still in some sort of quarantine, observing mask rules and staying home whenever possible. Our newly Extra Online lives (online work meetings, online school, online Hinge dates) at the height of summer force us to relive happier summers through memory alone, bereft at the loss of what we never even knew we had. A screenshot of D.W., Arthur's little sister, gazing longingly through a chain link fence is the perfect encapsulation of this otherwise indescribable emotion.
31. Tiger King memes
When the docuseries Tiger King dropped on Netflix in March, it ignited a wave of people adopting Joe Exotic- and Carol Baskin-isms ripped from the episodes. Some people identified as "gay and broke," as big-cat owner Joe Exotic stated; others started their days greeting others as "cool cats and kittens," as Carol would in her vlogs for Big Cat Rescue.
30. The PS5 logo
A new PlayStation model is due out sometime late this year and what better way to welcome it into the world by memeing the shit out of the "new" (a.k.a. barely different than before) logo that Sony revealed at its CES 2020 presentation in early January.
29. Jo March saying "I can't!"
There's a lot about Jo March, by far the most beloved character in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, that's extremely, extremely relatable. She's stubborn, she's funny, she's creative, and sometimes, she can't. She can't! Saoirse Ronan's rendition of Jo and Laurie's famous and controversial breakup from last year's film adaptation of the novel included a very relatable phrase when Jo finally tells Laurie she just can't imagine them getting married, a line reading that can apply to any situation where you can't, you can't, you've tried it, and you can't.
28. Ma edits
Early last summer, a movie called Ma came out and nobody saw it. The film starred Octavia Spencer as a loner who befriends high schoolers and invites them into her party basement after they convince her to buy alcohol for them and ends up terrorizing the teens, and it was fine. But the Blumhouse movie got a second life when people realized that Spencer's look in this movie is something special, with that bowl cut and faraway stare, and so the movie poster mashups began.
Large boulder the size the size of a slightly smaller boulder than large boulder, the size of a small boulder's younger brother, not to be confused with the oldest brother large boulder the size of a large boulder- has been there the whole time & he just wants to be noticed. 😢 pic.twitter.com/JSTALIIj42— Black Kryptonian (@Blk_Kryptonian) January 28, 2020
27. Large boulder the size of a small boulder
This meme lasted all of one day, but like a large boulder tumbling down a cliff into a large body of water, it made a big, satisfying splash. It started with a confusing tweet made by the San Miguel County Sheriff's Department in Telluride, Colorado, in late January warning drivers about a road hazard: a large boulder the size of a small boulder. Their poor menchies.
26. Chicky nuggies
I'm pleased to announce that this very 2011 abbreviation of "chicken nuggets" has made a return in 2020 by way of Baby Yoda, one of our favorite memes of 2019. Usually, these are about the crushing loss of not being allowed to have chicky nuggies for dinner.
25. "Say So" dance
There have already been a bunch of new TikTok dances that have taken over the video app this year, but by far the most prevalent was the "Say So" dance, created by user Haley Sharpe and done to the tune of Doja Cat's hit song off her newest album. The story of how this dance made the song go viral and vice versa is a fascinating one, but even if you're not up to delving into the complexities of internet fame, this dance is easy enough to learn -- you can even do it on stilts.
24. Mi Pan
The origins of the viral, seemingly nonsensical "Mi Pan" song are almost as strange as the song itself. When a Tiktok of a dancing red llama with inexplicably over a million likes started making the rounds, users picked up the audio and used it for their own surrealistic videos, but many more were just perplexed, wondering where the song had actually come from. For a little while, it was even adopted by Spanish Tiktok for a series of videos involving all different types of bread -- as "mi pan" translates in Spanish to "my bread." As it turns out, it's actually a cover of a Russian cereal commercial jingle, just with the lyrics mistranslated. I think we can all agree, though, that mi pan su su sum su su su.
23. Face touching
Back when the coronavirus pandemic hadn't snowballed into the catastrophe it is right now and it was fun to make jokes about it (okay, people are still making plenty of jokes about it), a lot of us latched on to the very silly-sounding (but completely rational!) advice from various health departments that we all stop touching our damn faces to keep the virus from spreading. It's sound advice, but it's also very funny to be constantly aware of exactly how many times we touch our own faces every day -- and how impossible it is for us to STOP.
22. Wii Shop vibe dance
Though it's unclear exactly where this came from, this predominantly Japanese trend of awkwardly dancing to a remix of the the Wii Shopping music in public takes a lot of courage to pull off.
21. No one has this range
By now, we've evolved past telling each other when people don't have the range: instead, we've reached a new form of enlightenment, a more positive space to grow and celebrate those who DO have the range. Who has the range? Wishbone the dog has the range. Amy Adams has the range. Jake Gyllenhaal has the range. The bear that played Paddington, the monster from Annihilation, the suit from Midsommar, and the grizzly that threw Leonardo DiCaprio down a hill has the range. Congratulations to all.
20. How TF am I an essential worker
When quarantine first began, essential workers were encouraged to keep returning to their regular jobs, in order for the rest of us to have some semblance of normalcy, and so that the economy didn't grind to a complete halt. People whose jobs were grocery store employees, pharmacists, and some doctors kept showing up to work, but a number of positions the government deemed "essential" seem… a little odd.
19. Harry Potter/Twilight POVs
We're not sure if this qualifies more as a "cursed" meme, but it brings us joy all the same. Every few years or so, there's a powerful resurgence of both Harry Potter and Twilight, as the newest generation precedes to meme them to within an inch of their lives. This year, it's reared its twin heads on Tiktok, where Gen Z has been making cringeworthy POV videos, usually involving the subject dating one or more characters in either universe. Feel your skin peel itself away from your body as you descend into Cedric Diggory/Draco Malfoy love triangle Tiktok, scream into the void of Filch simp Tiktok, feel the sweet relief of Charlie Swan thirst Tiktok.
18. Oh to be...
In our strange, anxiety-ridden times, there's a certain wistful longing for a simpler life, perhaps as a cat massaging the back of a pregnant sheep, or a lovingly rendered flower in a Studio Ghibli movie. Everyone wants to get away from it all sometimes -- not just get away, but become something smaller, simpler, more primal and more boring, and this meme encapsulates that exact feeling.
17. It's corona time
TikTok is a strange, irreverent place, so it makes all the sense in the known universe that its creators would find a way to turn a worldwide pandemic into a meme. The result is someone saying "it's corona time… hey, it's corona time right now" over and over again over the intro of club track "Don't Stop the Rock" by Freestyle from 1985. According to the Los Angeles Times, user @playboierik21 made the original sound that's blown up to remind the world to wash your hands and wear a mask outside and for less sincere, more deranged content about dousing your phones in hydrogen peroxide or opening doors with your mouth.
16. The Witcher memes
The Witcher dropped on Netflix at the tail end of December 2019, yes, but the memes have kept chugging along as the decade turned over and more and more people aggressively binged the fantasy series. The main character, Geralt of Rivia, has two catchphrases: "Hmm" and "fuck," and every time he grumbles either of them have been compiled into supercuts as they inevitably would. Memers have also capitalized on the mismatched bromance between hardened Geralt and Jaskier, the naïve bard, and musicians have remixed Jaskier's catchy witcher reputation-correcting ballad, "Toss a Coin to Your Witcher." Bring on the Season 2 memes in 2021.
cancelling plans is ok. posing as a tutor for a rich family’s daughter is ok. embedding your family into theirs is ok. kicking the housekeeper down the stairs is ok. stabbing your elitist boss is ok. living the rest of your life in a bunker is ok. do what u need to do to cope.— William Yu (@its_willyu) January 4, 2020
15. "Cancelling plans is ok"
All the way back in 2017, Chance the Rapper fired off an earnest tweet about the importance of self-care, starting with "cancelling plans to read is ok." Practically three years later, "self-care" has turned into a Goop-ified parody of itself, leaving plenty of room to make fun of it. Hence, these memes that usually use the plot of a movie (above: Parasite) to justify "doing what you have to do to cope."
14. But I'm shy
"[Doing a thing] but I'm shy" is TikTok's Icarus, flying high and too close to the sun where it caught fire and became broadly irritating. Still, we can't help but laugh at the whistling song and real-life take on a shy anime character's pose of their toes turned inward and index fingers touching that cosplayers (also a big topic for people to make fun of on TikTok) coopted.
13. Ariana Grande eating
This mildly disgusting trend has faceless people dressed in oversized sweatshirts where the sleeves cover most of their hands, a la Ariana Grande. Only here, the memers neglect to roll up their sleeves, dipping sweatshirt-covered hands into piles of mashed potatoes and saucy gravy for a Thanksgiving feast or some other sloppy food item. We've also seen the occasional activity, ie. rock climbing. This trend started in late 2019, but we're rooting for it to get even more popular in 2020 because for as gross as these videos tend to be, they're also very, very funny.
12. "This is how I win."
Uncut Gems, our favorite movie from 2019, is inherently memeable. Adam Sandler? As a Diamond District dealer? Who's addicted to risky gambling?? Kevin Garnett??? A gemstone Furby???? Six-way parlay?????? Especially in the wake of the film's Oscar snubs, a few choice screenshots have become memes, including the Sandman's confrontation with his bookie telling him that's the dumbest best he's ever heard ("I disagree.") and his pump-up chat with KG, "This is how I win."
11. Which is the best seat?
New Yorkers have specific preferences for many things, one of which is their choice of seat on the subway. That idea kicked off this meme, which started as an innocuous tweet from @gplatinum_ posted ("All my New Yorkers, which is the best seat?") and blew up after Bodega Boys and Desus & Mero host Desus Nice retweeted with the commentary "90% of videos that show subway fights involve seat 4." After that, it was a free-for-all of regions and best seats.
Renegade is THE hottest dance on TikTok, an app that has no shortage of people trying to create viral dance routines. Though the Renegade, set to "Lottery" by Atlanta-based rap group K Camp, was first done by 14-year-old Atlanta dancer Jalaiah Harmon (@_.xoxlaii) in September 2019 on Instagram and Funimate, it migrated to other apps like TikTok through the end of the year, amplified by influencers and their followers trying to replicate the deceptively difficult dance. It hit its critical peak when, 1) Jalaiah was profiled in the New York Times and credited as the true creator of the Renegade routine, and 2) Jalaiah performed it at the NBA All-Star game. Learn Renegade now before the Facebook boomers inevitably ruin it.
While "medieval" style covers of pop songs have been a thing for a few years now, they've finally hit it big in 2020, a year where the similarities between now and a certain Black Plague era are undeniable. Occasionally these songs will pop up on Tiktok, where they're used as ambience for whenever someone does something that puts them in mind of the Middle Ages, such as eating a slice of bread with cheese or carrying the laundry basket on their hip like a fair village maiden. Also, these covers slap, so there's that.
8. Doug Dimmadome
Some context: Doug Dimmadome was a recurring character on the Nickelodeon cartoon The Fairly Oddparents, a wealthy southern business mogul sporting a mustache, a white suit, and a very large hat. The moment he introduces himself to protagonist Timmy Turner got remixed into the song that accompanies the video above. People did all kinds of stuff with this sound, but the best efforts were making extremely tall hats and taking them out into public.
This took longer than I would like to admit♬ JoJo Pose To this audio full version on SoundCloud - apollofresh
7. JoJo Pose
A little context: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a long-running and beloved anime series (one of our favorites of the decade!) that is indeed quite bizarre, especially with its dramatic-looking characters, and rapper Hello Apollo remixed its theme song into a perfect TikTok song, "JoJo Pose." So anime fans on TikTok (of which there are many) took to replicating some of the more intense screencaps and character key art of the series with second-long poses that match up with the still. That has gone beyond JoJo's Bizarre Adventure to other anime, like Naruto or boys' high school volleyball series Haikyuu!!, and even non-anime related phenomena, such as photos of Adam Driver in very specific poses. It's weird, sure, but also very fun!
6. "I am once again asking..."
Politics can be a dead zone of unfunny memes -- if we see another Nancy Pelosi clapping GIF ever again, we're going to lose it -- but the memes made from screenshot of Bernie Sanders asking for supporters to donate money to his campaign are pure gold, ranging from hyper-specific ("I am once again asking for vocals in my monitor" in front of the stage at Trans-Pecos, a small venue in Queens) to viral callbacks ("I am once again at the combination taco bell and pizza hut") to the highly relatable (above). M4A stands for both Medicare for All and Memes for All.
5. The sprinting javelina
This singular-minded running hog has captured the hearts of many an online person, just as a video of it sprinting along a road in Tucson, Arizona. But then people started editing songs over the javelina (also called a skunk pig or peccary), and then an account solely dedicated to javelina edits emerged, and it was all over from there. Why is this meme so good? It's hard to explain, but there's something about the way it clears the sidewalk and how almost any piece of music pairs with the video that it just feels like an instant classic.
4. Bong Joon Ho making his Oscars kiss
It was the most satisfying Oscars in years primarily due to Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho, director of 2019's incredible (and now Academy Award-winning) Parasite and other movies like Okja and Snowpiercer, sweeping and historic victories in categories like Best Picture and Best Director. He already had the best pre-show campaign, calling the Oscars a "local" award (amazing) and giving interviews about just wanting to go back home because America stinks (again, amazing). But taking four trophies in total, director Bong's sweet, earnest giddiness from the night became a meme in and of itself: Accepting his first award of the night, you could see him staring in awe at his Oscar while his producer gave his speech; twice, he told the audience that he was going to get wasted later; and he posed with his statues in all sorts of silly poses, including, post importantly, making two of his Oscars kiss after the telecast was over, which is exactly what we would have done!
3. Marriage Story argument
Marriage Story was a lovely movie that looks very silly if you only learned about it through the memes. Namely, the most intense scene wherein Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson's separated characters have a blowout argument about the terrible things they did to each other in their relationship got turned into the late 2019/early 2020 equivalent of the American Chopper argument.
2. Hand gesture TikToks
TikTok is at the front of the social media pack when it comes to interactive filters and effects. This sequence of three hand gestures that act as a camera timer has been available for more than a year, but it surged in popularity in late 2019/early 2020. Most of the time, people struggle to get the tech to work, which is half the fun of watching these, but the final three photos, which tends to be someone punching or choking themselves, is usually worth the effort.
1. Ghanian pallbearers
There's a phrase you learn in English class, "dramatic irony," which is a specific type of literary device in which the audience is aware of what the characters don't know. A sort of modern spin on the "fail" video, the Ghanian pallbearers meme, which consists of video taken of a famous troupe of funeral dancers from Prampram dressed in suits and cool sunglasses hoisting coffins on their shoulders, mashed up with clips of people doing stupidly dangerous things and then supposedly "dying," is perhaps the perfect visual representation of exactly what dramatic irony is all about.
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