Social and cultural phenomena specific to the Internet include Internet memes, such as popular themes, catchphrases, images, viral videos, and jokes. When such fads and sensations occur online, they tend to grow rapidly and become more widespread because the instant communication facilitates word of mouth transmission.
Cooks Source infringement controversy – This publication drew backlash after it committed copyright infringement by using an online article without permission for commercial purposes. This backlash further increased due to Cooks Source's response which showed a misunderstanding of copyright and an increasing agitation to the original writer of the article.
Elf Yourself (2006) and Scrooge Yourself (2007) – Interactivewebsites created by Jason Zada and Evolution Bureau for OfficeMax's holiday seasonadvertising campaign. Elf Yourself allows visitors to upload images of themselves or their friends, see them as dancing elves, and includes options to save or share the video. According to ClickZ, visiting the Elf Yourself site "has become an annual tradition that people look forward to". While not selling any one specific product, the two were created to raise consumer awareness of the sponsoring firm.
Flex Tape – An infomercial of the product Flex Tape. It became a meme after YouTuber JonTron made a video reviewing the infomercial.
FreeCreditReport.com – A series of TV commercials that were posted on the Internet; many spoofs of the commercials were made and posted on YouTube.
HeadOn – A June 2006 advertisement for a homeopathic product claimed to relieve headaches. Ads featured the tagline, "HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead", stated three times in succession, accompanied by a video of a model using the product without ever directly stating the product's purpose. The ads were successively parodied on sites such as YouTube and rapperLil Jon even made fun of it.
"Mac Tonight/Moon Man" – A McDonald's commercial made to promote dinner sales. Starting in 2007, the character in the commercial, "Mac Tonight" was utilized in videos where he is depicted promoting violence against minorities and promoting the KKK with racist parodies of rap songs. The best-known parody, "Notorious KKK" (a parody of Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G.), has accumulated over 119,000 views on YTMND.
"Nope, Chuck Testa" – A local commercial made for Ojai Valley Taxidermy, owned by Chuck Testa, suggesting that the stuffed creatures were alive until Testa appeared, saying "Nope, Chuck Testa!"; the ad soon went viral.
What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar? – A slogan at the end of commercials advertising the ice cream sandwich Klondike bar. People on YouTube and Facebook began posting videos depicting people in dangerous and absurdist situations attempting to reach a Klondike Bar in response to the slogan.
Will It Blend? – The blender product Blendtec, claimed by its creator Tom Dickson to be the most powerful blender, is featured in a series of YouTube videos, "Will It Blend?" where numerous food and non-food items are used within the blender.
Xtranormal – A website allowing users to create videos by scripting the dialog and choosing from a menu of camera angles and predesigned CGI characters and scenes. Though originally designed to be used to ease storyboard development for filmmakers, the site quickly became popular after videos made with the tool, including "iPhone 4 vs HTC Evo", became viral.
Animation and comics
Animutations – Early Flash-based animations, pioneered by Neil Cicierega in 2001, typically featuring foreign language songs (primary Japanese, such as "Yatta"), set to random pop-culture images. The form is said to have launched the use of Flash for inexpensive animations that are now more common on the Internet.
Arthur – A 1996 PBS educational series that became popular on the Internet in July 2016 through humorous stills, including a still of the title character's clenched fist.
Ate my balls – One of the earliest examples of an internet meme, which involved web pages depicting a particular celebrity, fictional character, or other subject's relish for eating testicles.
Axe Cop – Initially a web comic series with stories created by five-year-old Malachai Nicolle and drawn into comic form by his 29-year-old brother Ethan, the series gained viral popularity on the Internet due to the vividness and non-sequitur nature of Malachai's imagination, and has led to physical publication and a series of animated shorts in the 2012–2013 season for the Fox Television Network.
Big Chungus – A still frame of the 1941 Merrie Melodies short Wabbit Twouble when Bugs Bunny mocks a fat Elmer Fudd. The meme originated from fictitious cover art for a video game titled Big Chungus (with "chungus" being a neologism associated with video game commentator Jim Sterling), which featured a still from the scene, and was popularized by a Facebook post by a GameStop manager who alleged that a colleague's mother had inquired about purchasing the "game" as a gift. Warner Bros. later incorporated Big Chungus into its own video game Looney Tunes World of Mayhem.
Bongo Cat – Originated on Twitter on 7 May 2018 when a simple animated cat GIF, was edited for it to play the song "Athletic" from the Super Mario World soundtrack. This cat has since been edited to play various songs on bongos, and later other instruments.
"Caramelldansen" – A spoof from the Japanese visual novel opening Popotan that shows the two main characters doing a hip swing dance with their hands over their heads, imitating rabbit ears, while the background song plays the sped-up version of the song "Caramelldansen", sung by the Swedish music group Caramell. Also known as Caramelldansen Speedycake Remix or Uma uma dance in Japan, the song was parodied by artists and fans who then copy the animation and include characters from other anime performing the dance.
Charlie the Unicorn – A five-part series of videos involving the titular unicorn who is repeatedly hoodwinked by two other blue and pink unicorns, Lolz and Roffle, who take him on elaborate adventures in order to steal his belongings or cause him physical harm.
I'll take a potato chip... and eat it!!! – A scene from the English-language dub of episode 8 of the anime adaptation of Death Note, showing the main character Light Yagami taking a potato chip from a bag of chips and eating the chip in a dramatic way. The scene includes dramatic music and action movie-style camera cuts.
Polandball (more commonly known as Countryballs) – A user-generated Internet meme which originated on the /int/ board of German imageboard Krautchan.net in the latter half of 2009. The meme is manifested in a large number of online comics, where countries are presented as spherical personas that interact in often broken English, poking fun at national stereotypes and international relations, as well as historical conflicts.
Pusheen – An animated grey tabby cat, originally drawn as a character in the webcomic "Everyday Cute" by artists Clare Belton and Andrew Duff. Belton has since released a Pusheen book.
Rage comics – A large set of pre-drawn images including crudely drawn stick figures, clip art, and other artwork, typically assembled through website generators, to allow anyone to assemble a comic and post to various websites and boards. The New York Times reports that thousands of these are created daily. Typically these are drawn in response to a real-life event that has angered the comic's creator, hence the term "rage comics", but comics assembled for any other purpose are also made. Certain images from rage comics are known by specific titles, such as "trollface" (a widely grinning man), "forever alone" (a man crying to himself), or "rage guy" (a man shouting "FUUUUU...").
Salad Fingers – A Flash animation series surrounding a green man with severely elongated fingers in a desolate world populated mostly by deformed, functionally mute people.
Steamed Hams – Remixes of a segment of The Simpsons episode "22 Short Films About Springfield" involving Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers, in which Skinner has invited Chalmers over to dinner, inadvertently sets his ham on fire, and covers it up by serving fast food hamburgers as "steamed hams".
"This is fine" – A two-panel comic drawn in 2013 by KC Green as part of the Gunshow webcomic, showing an anthropomorphic dog sitting in a room on fire, and saying "This is fine". The comic emerged as a meme in 2016, used in situations, as described by The New York Times, "halfway between a shrug and complete denial of reality". Numerous derivatives of the "This is fine" comic have been made.
"Tuxedo Winnie the Pooh" – A photoshopped image of Winnie the Pooh sitting in an armchair from the featurette Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, which became popular on Reddit in 2019. The meme, which is also known as "A fellow man of culture", features Winnie the Pooh wearing a tuxedo and smiling.
Ultra Instinct Shaggy – A character interpretation that the Scooby-Doo character Shaggy is immensely more powerful than he presents himself. The meme is usually presented as still frames of a behind-the-scenes interview of the 2002 live-action movie with subtitles implying that Shaggy is restraining his power to prevent catastrophe. Subsequently, Warner Bros. canonized the meme as part of a credits gag in the 2021 Mortal Kombat movie, as well as including Shaggy as a fighter in the MultiVersus crossover fighting game.
Weebl and Bob – A series of Flash cartoons created by Jonti Picking featuring two egg-shaped characters that like pie and speak in a stylistic manner.
xkcd – A webcomic created by Randall Munroe, popularized on the Internet due to a high level of math-, science- and geek-related humor, with certain jokes being reflected in real-life, such as using Wikipedia's "" tag on real world signs or the addition of an audio preview for YouTube comments.
Challenges generally feature Internet users recording themselves performing certain actions, and then distributing the resulting video through social media sites, often inspiring or daring other users to repeat the challenge.
Coffin Dance/Dancing Pallbearers – A group of Ghana pallbearers that respectfully dance during funeral processions had been covered by the BBC in 2017 and gained some initial Internet popularity. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a popular TikTok video mashed the BBC footage with the EDM song "Astronomia" from Russian artist Tony Igy, creating a meme that appeared to spread as a morbidly humorous reminder about the dangers of COVID-19.
Dab – A dance move where a person drops their head into a bent, slanted arm, with the other arm out straight and parallel.
Hampster Dance – A page filled with hamsters dancing, linking to other animated pages. It spawned a fictional band complete with its own CD album release.
Harlem Shake – A video based on Harlem shake dance, originally created by YouTube personality Filthy Frank, and using an electronica version of the song by Baauer. In such videos, one person is dancing or acting strange among a room full of others going about routine business. After the drop in the song and a video cut, everyone starts dancing or acting strangely. The attempts to recreate the dance led to a viral spread on YouTube.
"Hit the Quan" – A viral dance challenge to the song "Hit the Quan" by American rapper iLoveMemphis. Rich Homie Quan originally performed this dance in his music video for his song "Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)". iLoveMemphis produced the "Hit The Quan" based around Rich Homie Quan's dance. iLoveMemphis' song launched the "Hit the Quan" viral dance challenge because of its convenient lyrics to dance to. "Hit the Quan" reached 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart because of the popularity of the dance. The dance challenge was very popular on social media platforms, especially Vine. Many celebrities participated in the popular dance challenge.
"Kiki Challenge" or "#DoThe Shiggy" – A viral dance challenge to the song "In My Feelings" by Drake. This challenge was started by a comedian named Shiggy on the night that Drake released the album Scorpion. Shiggy posted a video of himself on his Instagram account dancing along to part of the lyrics in what looks like in the middle of a neighborhood street. Shiggy commented #DoTheShiggy. Drake claims the success of the song was due to Shiggy's popular dance to his song. The dance challenge is often filmed with a twist of the original. The most popular twist of the dance is filmed from the passenger side of a moving vehicle through the open driver door where the would be driver is dancing moves along with the slowly moving car. This challenge received a lot of controversy due to the fact nobody was in control of the car. Performers have received fines and sometimes suffered injury. This viral dance challenge was performed by a number of professional athletes and celebrities. The dance challenge was performed by people in the U.S. and spread to the rest of the world.
T-pose – A surrealist "dance move" that became popular in April 2018 modelled after the default pose (also known as a bind pose) that many 3D models in games, animations, and more take in their raw file form.
Bill Gates Email Beta Test – An email chain-letter that first appeared in 1997 and still circulates. The message claims that America Online and Microsoft are conducting a beta test and for each person one forwards the email to, they will receive a payment from Bill Gates of more than $200. Realistic contact information for a lawyer appears in the message.
Goodtimes virus – An infamous, fraudulent virus warning that first appeared in 1994. The email claimed that an email virus with the subject line "Good Times" was spreading, which would "send your CPU into a nth-complexity infinite binary loop", among other dire predictions.
Lighthouse and naval vessel urban legend – Purportedly an actual transcript of an increasingly heated radio conversation between a U.S. Navy ship and a Canadian who insists the naval vessel change a collision course, ending in the punchline. This urban legend first appeared on the Internet in its commonly quoted format in 1995, although versions of the story predate it by several decades. It continues to circulate; the Military Officers Association of America reported in 2011 that it is forwarded to them an average of three times a day. The Navy has a page specifically devoted to pointing out that many of the ships named weren't even in service at the time.
MAKE.MONEY.FAST – One of the first spam messages that was spread primarily through Usenet, or even earlier BBS systems, in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The original email is attributed to an individual who used the name "Dave Rhodes", who may or may not have existed. The message is a classic pyramid scheme – one receives an email with a list of names and is asked to send $5 by postal mail to the person whose name is at the top of the list, add their own name to the bottom, and forward the updated list to a number of other people.
Neiman Marcus Cookie recipe – An email chain-letter dating back to the early 1990s, but originating as Xeroxlore, in which a person tells a story about being ripped off for over $200 for a cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus. The email claims the person is attempting to exact revenge by passing the recipe out for free.
Nigerian Scam/419 scam – A mail scam attempt popularized by the ability to send millions of emails. The scam claims the sender is a high-ranking official of Nigeria with knowledge of a large sum of money or equivalent goods that they cannot claim but must divest themselves of; to do so, they claim to require a smaller sum of money up front to access the sum to send to the receiver. The nature of the scam has mutated to be from any number of countries, high-ranking persons, barristers, or relationships to said people.
Bee Movie (2007) – Sped-up or slowed-down clips of the film have become popular on YouTube. One upload by "Avoid at All Costs" exceeded 12 million views as of December 2016. Many of the edited videos in this trend were taken down for spam due to the volume of videos posted by some channels. From September 2013 onwards, a few Internet users posted the entirety of the Bee Movie script on sites like Tumblr and Facebook.
Downfall (2004) – A film depicting Adolf Hitler (portrayed in this film by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz) during his final days of his life. Multiple scenes in which Hitler rants in German have been parodied innumerable times on the Internet, including when Hitler finds out that Felix Steiner has failed to carry out his orders and when Hitler finds out SS-GruppenführerHermann Fegelein has gone AWOL. This scene often has its English subtitles replaced by mock subtitles to give the appearance that Hitler is ranting about modern, often trivial topics, and sometimes even breaks the fourth wall by referencing the Internet meme itself. While the clips are frequently removed for copyright violations, the film's director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, has stated that he enjoys them, and claimed to have seen about 145 of them.
Goncharov - A nonexistent film invented by users on Tumblr. It is purported to be "the greatest mafia movie ever made," released in 1973. In 2020, a user posted a picture of a tag found on a pair of boots which featured details on the nonexistent film Goncharov in place of a brand label, which suggested it was "A film by Matteo JWHJ0715" and "presented" by Martin Scorsese. Users have inconsistently described the film as being directed by either Matteo JWHJ0715 or Scorsese. This label was speculated by several users to be a misprint of Gomorrah.Goncharov picked up traction again in late November 2022 when a user created a poster for the film that featured a lineup of actors and character names, ultimately sparking an elaborate fiction of the film's existence. Discussion of the film involved detailed critical analysis of the plot, themes, symbolism, and characters, as well as creation of gifs, fan art, and theme music, all presented as if the film were real. The meme's popularity caused it to become a trending topic on the Tumblr platform.
LazyTown (2004) – A children's television program originating from Iceland, which became very popular after one of the primary actors, Stefán Karl Stefánsson, was diagnosed with cancer and set up a GoFundMe page for support. The song "We are Number One" became a meme in October 2016, and many videos were created. It became one of the fastest growing memes in history, with 250 videos uploaded in 5 days.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy – Released between 2001 and 2003, just as meme culture was taking off, several moments from the films became part of the online culture, with, most notably, Sean Bean's character of Boromir stating "One does not simply walk into Mordor" as one of most commonly referenced.
Marble Hornets – A documentary-style horror, suspense short film series based on alternate reality experiences of the Slenderman tale. Marble Hornets was instrumental in codifying parts of the Slender Man mythos, but is not part of the inter-continuity crossover that includes many of the blogs and vlogs that followed it, although MH does feature in other canons as either a chronicle of real events or a fictional series.
Minions - The mischievous yellow creatures from the Despicable Me franchise have, since their introduction in 2010, become ubiquitous in certain layers of meme culture. The memes created with images of Minions have frequently been derided as bland or unintentionally absurd. In 2022, a phenomenon known as "Gentleminions" arose, in which young men and teen boys would arrive to Minions: The Rise of Gru in formal attire.
The adult brony fandom of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic grew from its 4chan roots.
Re-cut trailer – User-made trailers for established films, using scenes, voice-overs, and music, to alter the appearance of the film's true genre or meaning or to create a new, apparently seamless, film. Examples include casting the thriller-drama The Shining into a romantic comedy, or using footage from the respective films to create Robocop vs. Terminator.
Sharknado (2013) – A made-for-television film produced by The Asylum and aired on the SyFy network as a mockbuster of other disaster films, centered on the appearance of a tornado filled with sharks in downtown Los Angeles. Though similar to other films from the Asylum, elements of the film, such as low-budget effects and choice of actors, led to the film becoming a social media hit and leading to at least four additional sequels.
Shrek – A DreamWorks franchise that has an internet fandom who ironically liked the series. The viral video "Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life" was based on a homoerotic story on 4chan depicting the titular ogre engaging in anal sex with a young boy.
Snakes on a Plane (2006) – Attracted attention a year before its planned release, and before any promotional material was released, due to the film's working title, its seemingly absurd premise, and the piquing of actor Samuel L. Jackson's interest to work on the film. Producers of the film responded to the Internet buzz by adding several scenes and dialogue imagined by the fans.
The Three Bears (1939) – An animated short film made by Terrytoons based on the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. One of the scenes from the short depicting Papa Bear saying "Somebody toucha my spaghet!" in a stereotypically thick Italian accent became an internet meme in December 2017.
Treasure Island (1988) - A Russian animated film developed and distributed by Kievnauchfilm based on the novel of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson. A loop of a scene from the film showing three characters in a walk cycle with Dr. Livesey showing a highly pronounced swagger, often overlaid with the phonk song, "Why Not" by Ghostface Playa, became an internet meme in August 2022.
West Side Story (2021) – A clip of the opening long take shot of "The Dance at the Gym" sequence from Steven Spielberg's 2021 film version of the musical was uploaded to Twitter on February 25, 2022, and went viral over the weekend, reaching 3 million views and over 32,000 likes. It led to many users sharing images and clips of their favorite scenes and shots from the film during that time, while praising Spielberg's direction and Janusz Kamiński's cinematography. This was further amplified by a Twitter thread by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro analyzing the camerawork and blocking on this particular shot.
Bowsette is a fan-made, gender-swapped version of the Mario franchise character Bowser.
Among Us – A game made by game studio Innersloth released on Steam in 2018. The game reached internet fame in 2020 due to Twitchstreamers and YouTubers playing the game frequently. Still images from the game, phrases from the game like "Emergency Meeting" and "Dead body reported" as well as typical gameplay events have influenced internet memes. Other terms like "Sus", "Sussy", "Sussy Baka", "Amogus", and "When the imposter is sus" also became notable modern ironic memes on social media platforms.
Arrow in the knee – City guards in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim would utter the line: "I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee". The latter part of this phrase quickly took off as a catchphrase and a snowclone in the form of "I used to X, but then I took an arrow in the knee" with numerous image macros and video parodies created.
But can it run Crysis? – A question often asked by PC gaming and hardware enthusiasts. When released in 2007, Crysis was extremely taxing on computer hardware, with even the most advanced consumer graphics cards of the time unable to provide satisfactory frame rates when the game was played on its maximum graphical settings. As a result, this question is asked as a way of judging a certain computer's capability at gaming.
Can it run Doom? – A common joke question with any hardware that has a CPU. It has even gotten to the point where people are developing source ports of the game to unconventional hardware such as a Canon printer, the VIC-20, the Touch Bar on the 2016 MacBook Pro, a smart fridge, an ATM, and the game itself among other things.
Let me solo her – The colloquial name for an Elden Ring player who specializes in fighting Malenia, the game's most difficult boss fight, and whose character wears no armor but a jar as a helmet. "Let me solo her" became widely acclaimed within the game's online community after volunteering to deal with Malenia on behalf of other players through the game's player summoning feature, and successfully defeating her hundreds of times without assistance. Videos of the player's performances became popular and widely shared on multiple social news websites. The player's exploits was acknowledged by the game's publisher, and became the subject of fan labor.
"Maidenless" – a term repeated by multiple non-player characters. Its original context is that the player character has yet to achieve an important gameplay milestone, but it has been appropriated by the player community as a joke or insult.
Flappy Bird – A free-to-playcasualmobile game released on the iOS App Store on 24 May 2013, and on Google Play on 30 January 2014, by indie mobile app developer Dong Nguyen. The game began rapidly rising in popularity in late-December 2013 to January 2014 with up to 50 million downloads by 5 February. On 9 February, Nguyen removed the game from the mobile app stores citing negative effects of the game's success on his health and its addictiveness to players. Following the game's removal from the app stores, numerous clones and derivatives of the game were released with varying similarities to the original game.
I Love Bees – An alternate reality game that was spread virally after a one-second mention inside a Halo 2 advertisement. Purported to be a website about honey bees that was infected and damaged by a strange artificial intelligence, done in a disjointed, chaotic style resembling a crashing computer. At its height, over 500,000 people were checking the website every time it updated.
Lamar Roasts Franklin – A cutscene in the 2013 action-adventure video game Grand Theft Auto V where Lamar Davis, portrayed by comedian Slink Johnson, berates Franklin Clinton, portrayed by actor and former rapper Shawn Fonteno, for Franklin's haircut and his relationship with his girlfriend, ending in Lamar uttering the word "nigga" in a condescending, sing-song voice and giving Franklin the middle finger, much to the latter's chagrin. The cutscene experienced a resurgence in popularity in late 2020 when parodies of the scene were uploaded on YouTube and other video hosting sites. It usually involves Lamar's character model being replaced with various popular culture icons such as Darth Vader, Vegeta, and Snow White among others, with Lamar's dialogue dubbed to account for the characters used. In 2021, Fonteno and Johnson reprised their roles as Franklin and Lamar respectively in a live-action re-enactment of the cutscene. Later that year, Fonteno and Johnson once again reprised their roles in The Contract DLC for Grand Theft Auto Online, complete with a homage to the original roast cutscene.
Leeroy Jenkins – A World of Warcraft player charges into a high-level dungeon with a distinctive cry of "Leeeeeeeerooooy... Jeeenkins!", ruining the meticulous attack plans of his group and getting them all killed.
Let's Play – Videos created by video game players that add their commentary and typically humorous reactions atop them playing through a video game. These videos have created a number of Internet celebrities who have made significant money through ad revenue sharing, such as PewDiePie who earned over $12 million from his videos in 2015.
Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.
Mafia City – A mobile game that has become infamous for its odd advertising involving a person drastically increasing their stats for doing various mob-related activities, and for the phrase "That's how mafia works".
Press F to pay respects – A prompt for the player to press a button on the PC version of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, where the player character would approach the coffin of a fallen comrade in response. The mechanic is repeatedly criticized and ridiculed for both being arbitrary and unnecessary, as well as being inappropriate to the tone of the funeral the game otherwise intends to convey. The phrase has since become an Internet meme in its own right, sometimes used unironically: during the tribute stream for the Jacksonville Landing shooting, viewers posted a single letter "F" in the chat.
QWOP's title refers to the four keyboard keys used to move the muscles of the sprinter avatar
QWOP – A browser-based game requiring the player to control a sprint runner by using the Q, W, O, and P keys to control the runner's legs. The game is notoriously difficult to control, typically leaving the runner character flailing about. The concept developed into memes based on the game, as well as describing real-life mishaps as attributable to QWOP.
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – A trivia/parlor game based around linking an actor to Kevin Bacon through a chain of co-starring actors in films, television, and other productions, with the hypothesis that no actor was more than six connections away from Bacon. It is similar to the theory of six degrees of separation or the Erdős number in mathematics. The game was created in 1994, just at the start of the wider spread of Internet use, populated further with the creation of movie database sites like IMDb, and since has become a board game and contributed towards the field of network science.
"Eggman's announcement" – An excerpt from an improvised fandub of Sonic Adventure 2 in which Doctor Eggman screams at Shadow the Hedgehog for urinating on his wife. The original fandub, which has over 15 million views as of August 2022, was the pilot to SnapCube's Real-Time Fandub, a series of improvised fandubs of games in the Sonic franchise as well as others, such as Marvel's Spider-Man and Resident Evil 2 (a spin-off of the 2016 sister series by voice actor Charley Marlowe, Real-Time Fandub);
Sanic – A purposely misdrawn Sonic that has been referenced by Sega themselves, and used in merchandise;
and "Ugandan Knuckles" – A meme that gained high popularity thanks to the social game VRChat, where players with a crude Knuckles model asked other players if they "knew da wae" ("know the way"), who their "queen" was, clicking their tongue, and spitting repeatedly.
Surprised Pikachu – An image of the Pokémon Pikachu with a blank look and an open mouth. It is used as a reaction image to show either shock or lack thereof.
Twitch Plays Pokémon – An "experiment" and channel created by an anonymous user on the Twitch in February 2014. Logged-in viewers to the channel can enter commands in chat corresponding to the physical inputs used in the JRPG video game Pokémon Red. These are collected and parsed by a chat software robot that uses the commands to control the main character in the game, which is then live-streamed from the channel. The stream attracted more than 80,000 simultaneous players with over 10 million views with a week of going live, creating a chaotic series of movements and actions within the game, a number of original memes, and derivative fan art. The combination has been called an entertainment hybrid of "a video game, live video and a participatory experience," which has inspired similar versions for other games.
U R MR GAY – A message allegedly hidden in the Super Mario Galaxy box art, which appears when each letter not decorated with a star is removed from the art. It was first noticed by a NeoGAF poster in September 2007. Video game journalists have debated as to whether the message was placed on purpose or was simply a humorous coincidence.
Untitled Goose Game – A 2019 video game developed by Australian game studio House House, in which the player controls a goose causing mischief in an English village. An early teaser for the game in 2017 led to strong interest in the title, and on release, the game quickly became an Internet meme.
Wordle – A word-guessing game similar to Jotto and Mastermind, where the player has only six tries to guess a five-letter word each day, the game indicating whether letters are in the word and/or in the correct position. The game grew popular over a few weeks after the ability to share results with others via social media was added near the end of 2021. The game's popularity led to The New York Times Company acquiring the game from its creator Josh Wardle at the end of January 2022 for an undisclosed seven-figure sum.
Baby mugging and Baby suiting – MommyShorts blogger Ilana Wiles began posting pictures of babies in mugs, and later adult business suits, both of which led to numerous others doing the same.
Babylonokia – A clay tablet, shaped like a mobile phone designed by Karl Weingärtner. Fringe scientists and alternative archaeology proponents subsequently misrepresented a photograph of the artwork as showing an 800-year-old archaeological find; that story was popularised in a video on the YouTube channel Paranormal Crucible and led to the object being reported by some press sources as a mystery.
Blinking white guy – An animated GIF of former Giant Bomb video producer Drew Scanlon blinking in surprise, originating from a 2013 video on the website, became an internet meme in 2017. Multiple outlets have noted the versatility of the GIF's use as a reaction.
#BreakTheInternet – The November 2014 issue of Paper included a cover image of Kim Kardashian in a partially nude pose, exposing her buttocks, taken by photographer Jean-Paul Goude. It was captioned "#breaktheinternet", as the magazine desired to set a record in social media response from it. Several other photos from the shoot were also released, including one that mimicked one that Goude took for his book Jungle Fever involving a "campaign incident". Paper's campaign set a record for hits for their site, and the photographs became part of Internet memes.
Brian Peppers – In 2005, a photo surfaced of a man named Brian Peppers, noted for his appearance, which suggests Apert syndrome or Crouzon syndrome. Found on the Ohio sex offender registry website, the photo gained traction after being shared on website YTMND. Peppers died in 2012 at the age of 43.
Crasher Squirrel – A photograph by Melissa Brandts of a squirrel which popped up into a timer-delayed shot of Brandts and her husband while vacationing in Banff National Park, Canada, just as the camera went off. The image of the squirrel has since been added into numerous images on the Internet.
CSI: Miami Puts on Sunglasses – The cold opening for nearly all CSI: Miami episodes ended with star David Caruso as Horatio Caine, in the initial stages of an investigation, putting on his sunglasses and making a quip or pun related to the crime, before the show hard cut to the opening credits, played against the scream of "Yeah!" in The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". Image macros of Caruso putting on sunglasses, or similar images for other fictional characters, and the introductory scenes of the CSI: Miami opening became frequent, typically used as response to other puns made on user forums or with the puns and the following "YEAH!" incorporated into the image macro.
Cursed images – Images (usually photographs) that are perceived as odd or disturbing due to their content, poor quality or both.
DashCon Ball Pit – A convention held in July 2014 by users of Tumblr that "imploded" due to a number of financial difficulties and low turnout. During the convention, a portable ball pit was brought into a large empty room. When some premium panels were cancelled, the attendees were offered an extra hour in the ball pit as compensation. The implosion and absurdity of aspects like the ball pit quickly spread through social media.
DALL-E - A web-based program introduced in 2022 that uses artificial intelligence to construct an array of images from a text prompt. The resulting images, often shared across social media, can from humorous, to uncanny, to near-perfect results.
Dog shaming – Originating on Tumblr, these images feature images of dogs photographed with signs explaining what antics they recently got up to.
Doge – Images of dogs, typically of the Shiba Inus, overlaid with simple but poor grammatical expressions, typically in the Comic Sans MS font, gaining popularity in late 2013. The meme saw an ironic resurgence towards the end of the decade, and was recognised by multiple media outlets as one of the most influential memes of the 2010s. The meme has also spawned Dogecoin, a form of cryptocurrency.
Don't talk to me or my son ever again – Images of a subject, be they product or individual, pictured with a smaller version of themself, captioned with the text "don't talk to me or my son ever again". Popular in 2016.
The Dress – An image of a dress posted to Tumblr that, due to how the photograph was taken, created an optical illusion where the dress would either appear white and gold, or blue and black. Within 48 hours, the post gained over 400,000 notes and was later featured on many different websites.
Ecce Homo / Ecce Mono / Potato Jesus – An attempt in August 2012 by a local woman to restore Elías García Martínez's aging fresco of Jesus in Borja, Spain led to a botched, amateurish, monkey-looking image, leading to several memes.
Floppa - a collection of images either portraying caracals or a specific caracal by the name of Goshe, Shlepa or more commonly Big Floppa. The collection of images don't portray to a specific theme per se, but always hold Floppa as a centerpoint or personification of something.
Grumpy Cat – A cat named Tardar Sauce that appears to have a permanent scowl on her face due to feline dwarfism, according to its owner. Pictures of the cat circulated the Internet, leading it to win the 2013 Webby for Meme of the Year, and her popularity has led her to star in a feature film. Tardar Sauce died on 14 May 2019.
Hide the Pain Harold – A Hungarian electrical engineer named András Arató became a meme after posing for stock photos on the websites iWiW and Dreamstime. He initially wasn't very happy with his popularity, but has grown to accept it. He realized he did similar things when he was younger such as drawing on Hungarian poet John Arany's portraits, making him look like a pirate. The meme depicts photos of Arató smiling, while viewers believe the smile masks serious sorrow and pain, hence the name "Hide the Pain Harold".
Hurricane Shark or Street Shark, a recurring hoax circulated after a variety of natural disasters, appearing to show a shark swimming in a flooded urban area, usually after a hurricane. Several images have been used, most often one of a freeway that first appeared during Hurricane Irene in 2011. However, a 2022 video of a shark or other large fish swimming in Hurricane Ian's floodwaters in Fort Myers, Florida, proved to be real, itself becoming part of the phenomenon and leading to phrases like "Hurricane Shark is real".
Manul – A Russian meme that was introduced in 2008. It is typically an image macro with a picture of an unfriendly and stern-looking Pallas's cat (also known as a manul) accompanied by a caption in which the cat invites you to pet it.
Stonks – An image featuring Meme Man in a suit against an image of the stock market, used to highlight or satirize absurd topics related to finance or the economy.
Success Kid – An image of a baby who is clenching his fist while featuring a determined look on his face.
Trash Doves – A sticker set of a purple bird for iOS, Facebook messenger, Facebook comments, and other messaging apps created by Syd Weiler. The animated headbanging pigeon from the sticker set started to go viral in Thailand and it became globally viral on social media.
Tron Guy – Jay Maynard, a computer consultant, designed a Tron costume, complete with skin-tight spandex and light-up plastic armor, in 2003 for Penguicon 1.0 in Detroit, Michigan. The Internet phenomenon began when an article was posted to Slashdot, followed by Fark, including images of this costume.
Vancouver Riot Kiss – An image supposedly of a young couple lying on the ground kissing each other behind a group of rioters during the riots following the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins on 15 June 2011. The couple, later identified as Australian, Scott Jones, and local resident, Alexandra Thomas, were not actually kissing but Jones was consoling Thomas after being knocked down by a police charge.
Wojak – also known "Feels Guy", a bald male character with a sad expression on his face, often used as a reaction image to represent feelings such as melancholy, regret or loneliness. It has been used to convey different feelings by means of memetic transformation and modification into many various unique forms, all with different meanings. Some represent specific ideas or roles in certain situations, such as the NPC meme, which mocks supposed groupthink and a lack of individuality among a group of people. It has also spawned many derived characters, all based on the original but used to represent different emotions.
Salt Bae – Turkish chef and restaurateur Nusret Gökçe earned fame in 2017 for his camera-friendly approach to preparing and seasoning meat, including a video in 2017 which he sprinkles salt, sparkling in the sunlight, onto a steak. Gökçe's approach has been compared to dinner theater, in that his actual finished product is secondary to the performance.
Bernie or Hillary? – A political poster that compares the positions of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on certain issues. It was typically used by Sanders supporters to make fun of Clinton's attempts to seem relatable to the voter base while they perceived Sanders to be more knowledgeable and in-depth on the issues. However, some critiqued the meme by saying that it played into sexist stereotypes.
Dean scream – Former Governor of VermontHoward Dean's concession speech following the 2004 New Hampshire Democratic primaries included Dean rattling off a list of states in escalating volume as crowd noise rose, resulting in increasingly distorted audio and culminating in an unusual "yeehaw" scream. It was one of the first political Internet memes.
Delete your account – A phrase used on Twitter to criticize the opinions of opponents. On 9 June 2016, Hillary Clinton tweeted this phrase towards Donald Trump. Afterwards, the tweet has become her most retweeted tweet of all time.
Forest raking – After U.S. President's Donald Trump's comments that Finland spent "a lot of time on raking and cleaning its forest floor", Finnish people began circulating satirical images of themselves raking the forests to stop wildfires.
Miss Me Yet? – Billboards that appeared on American highways in early 2010 that featured George Bush asking "Miss me yet?". Inspired a series of themed merchandise from online agencies such as CafePress.
"Banana for scale" – An internet meme that became popular for humorously measuring lengths of various objects. In this internet phenomenon, other objects juxtaposed with a banana are accompanied with the text "banana for scale".
Binod (meme) – A internet fad which became popular in India in 2020. It originated from a comment by a user with the screen name 'Binod', who had added only the word 'Binod' as a comment. This was followed by a video by Slayy Point, mocking "Binod" and YouTube comment sections in general. People started spamming the word 'Binod' across social media, primarily in YouTube comments and stream chats. A number of organisations also posted memes, including Netflix India,Twitter and Tinder.Paytm temporarily changed its Twitter name to 'Binod'.
Brad's Wife – On 27 February 2017, Brad Byrd of Harrison County, Indiana posted on Cracker Barrel's Facebook page, asking them why they fired his wife, Nanette, after 11 years of service. The intense and serious nature of the post drew viral attention, and internet users began semi-sarcastically demanding answers, using hashtags such as #BradsWife and #JusticeForBradsWife. This meme was notable for being popular with baby boomers as well as younger internet users. After the post was about a week old, several corporations jumped on the viral bandwagon and began to publicly send job offers to Nanette Byrd.
Creepypasta – Urban legends or scary stories circulating on the Internet, many times revolving around specific videos, pictures, or video games. The term "creepypasta" is a mutation of the term "copypasta": a short, readily available piece of text that is easily copied and pasted into a text field. "Copypasta" is derived from "copy/paste", and in its original sense commonly referred to presumably initially sincere text (e.g. a blog or forum post) perceived by the copy/paster as undesirable or otherwise preposterous, which was then copied and pasted to other sites as a form of trolling. In the pre-Internet era, such material regularly circulated as faxlore.
Freecycling – The exchange of unwanted goods via the Internet.
Gabe the Dog – Gabe was a miniature American Eskimo dog owned by YouTube user gravycp. In January 2013, gravycp uploaded a short video of Gabe barking. The footage itself never went viral though it was used in dozens of song remixes, some of which accrued up to half a million views.
Get stick bugged lol – a video clip of a stick insect swaying as bait-and-switch meme similar to Rickrolling, in which an irrelevant video would unexpectedly transition to the clip when the stickbug revealed with the caption "Get stick bugged LOL".
Have You Seen This Man? – A viral website that emerged on the Internet in the late 2000s, claiming to gather data about a mysterious figure only known as This Man that appears in dreams of people who never saw him before.
Horse ebooks / Pronunciation Book – A five-year-long viral marketing alternate reality game for a larger art project developed by Synydyne. "Horse_ebooks" was a Twitter account that seemed to promote e-books, while "Pronunciation Book" was a YouTube channel that provided ways to pronounce English words. Both accounts engaged in non-sequiturs, making some believe that the accounts were run by automated services. Pronunciation Book shifted to pronouncing numerals in a countdown fashion in mid-2013, concluding in late September 2013 revealing the connection to Horse_ebook and identity of Synydyne behind the accounts, and the introduction of their next art project.
Unregistered HyperCam 2 – The watermark which displayed in the upper-left corner of footage recorded with free versions of the HyperCam 2 screen capture software developed by Hyperionics, Inc. The software was widely used to screen record for YouTube videos during late 2000s to early 2010s, and was frequently used in the production of tutorial videos and Club Penguin gameplay. Videos with the watermark were often accompanied by "Trance" by 009 Sound System.
One red paperclip – The story of a Canadian blogger who bartered his way from a red paperclip to a house in a year's time.
Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally - A mnemonic used to memorize the order of operations (parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction). Fondly remembered by students of the United States school cirriculum.
SCP Foundation – A creative writing website that contains thousands of fictitious containment procedures for paranormal objects captured by the in-universe SCP Foundation, a secret organization tasked with securing and documenting objects that violate natural law and/or pose a threat to humanity's perception of normalcy and further existence. The website has inspired numerous spin-off works, including a stage play and video games such as SCP – Containment Breach.
Siren Head – A fictional cryptid which has an air raid siren as a head, created by horror artist Trevor Henderson. It has accumulated a fan following which has spawned numerous pieces of fan works and fan-made video games. Many video edits have depicted Siren Head playing various songs over a populated area. Siren Head has been erroneously recognized as an SCP, most notably when the character was briefly submitted to the SCP Foundation Wiki as SCP-6789; the entry was removed after Henderson and site users expressed intention to keep Siren Head independent of the SCP Foundation Wiki. Another entry, SCP-5987, was inspired by the character name and the controversy from the deleted entry.
Smash or Pass – A game in which players decide whether they would hypothetically "smash" (have sex with) someone or "pass" (choose not to).
Storm Area 51 – A joke event created on Facebook to "storm" the highly classified Area 51 military base, with over 1,700,000 people claiming to be attending and another 1,300,000 claiming they were "interested" in going. 1,500 people arrived in the vicinity of Area 51 the day of the event, only one of whom actually breached the boundary and was quickly escorted off the premises.
Slender Man or Slenderman – A creepypasta meme and urban-legend fakelore tale created on 8 June 2009 by user Victor Surge on Something Awful as part of a contest to edit photographs to contain "supernatural" entities and then pass them off as legitimate on paranormal forums. The Slender Man gained prominence as a frightening malevolent entity: a tall thin man wearing a suit and lacking a face with "his" head only being blank, white, and featureless. After the initial creation, numerous stories and videos were created by fans of the character. Slender Man was later adapted into a video game in 2012 and became more widely known. There is also a film released in 2018 to negative reviews.
Surreal memes – A type of meme that are artistically bizarre in appearance and whose humor derives from their absurd style. Certain qualities and characters, such as Meme Man, Mr. Orange, and a minimalist style, are frequent markers of the meme.
Vibe Check – Generally ascribed as a spiritual evaluation of a person's mental and emotional state.
Vuvuzelas – The near-constant playing of the buzz-sounding vuvuzela instrument during games of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa led to numerous vuvuzela-based memes, including YouTube temporarily adding a vuvuzela effect that could be added to any video during the World Cup.
Yanny or Laurel – An audio illusion where individuals hear either the word "Yanny" or "Laurel".
^A source from 14 January 2019, says that with over 25 million likes, the only online post with more likes than the egg is the "Despacito" YouTube music video with 31 million likes; however, the egg as of March 2019 has 54.5 million likes, making it the most-liked online post of all time
^Bissonnette, Zac (March 2015). "The $12-per-hour Sociology Major Who Made Ty Warner a Billionaire". The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute. Penguin Books. pp. 107–121. ISBN978-1591846024.