50 Internet Memes that Have Won Our Hearts
These popular memes include viral humor and bizarre curiosities
Memes are cultural symbols and social ideas that spread virally, primarily with the intent to either make people laugh or to make fun of others.
The meme content itself is usually something of minor everyday consequence: jokes about dad, urban legends, TV shows (including shows like Arthur, which has generated its own genre of memes) and movie references, human and animal oddities. In rare cases, memes can be profound art and music curiosities, and even philosophical ideas.
The noteworthy aspect of a meme is its infectious nature: It invites people to spread it through social media, email, and photo-sharing.
Here are the most popular modern internet memes today.
Be Like Bill
This 2015-2016 meme is a raging virus: It has propagated faster than any other internet meme.
Bill is a stick person illustration, with white space left for captioning. The version pictured here is the Bill with the hat/toque headdress. You will also see versions of stick person Bill sitting at a computer.
The irresistible appeal of Bill is that it is a powerful passive-aggressive way to make public judgments about other people’s life choices. If you want to comment on something you disagree with, the innocuous Bill stick figure is an excellent vehicle to transmit your message.
In the same way that Kermit and his teacup have become a tool for highlighting and criticizing others, Bill is a wildfire hit with anyone who wants to feel morally superior to others.
You can create your own Bill meme narrative at imgflip.
‘But That’s None of My Business’
While the imagery seems innocent enough, this recent meme is used to openly pass sarcastic judgment on someone, much like Be Like Bill. When you think someone is an idiot for some life decision he or she has made, you can post a photo of Kermit drinking tea, along with the phrase ‘but that’s none of my business.’ The memorable muppet image will help the message gnaw on the person’s brain for a while, and remind them that they’ve been judged.
Kylo Ren’s Tri-Lightsaber
When the trailer of the new Star Wars Episode 7 movie was released, fans went into a frenzy over the tri-lightsaber of the character Kylo Ren. Apparently, the functionality of such a mythical weapon was debatable. This spurred a viral form of playful vandalism where readers around the world “photoshopped” different implements onto Ren’s lightsaber, like this example of a Swiss army knife in this photo.
Grumpy Cat is a housepet from Arizona. Her real name is ‘Tardar Sauce’ and she has a disorder called ‘feline dwarfism.’ With a distinctive underbite that gives her a pouting facial expression, this little beast has become the poster child of sarcasm and faux negativity. Thousands of captioned meme photos have been based on Tardar’s seemingly-sad face. In actuality, Tardar is a very happy and friendly cat, which makes the sarcasm memes even richer!
Ylvis: What Does the Fox Say?
Norwegian comedy and music duo, Ylvis, asked the question, “What sound do foxes make?” Sure enough, they not only provided the answer, but they presented it via a preposterous dance video that went viral. This musical meme was nearing 1 billion views as of this writing.
The New Old Spice Guy
These preposterous commercials are exactly that: preposterous. Yet these commercials have a real charm that makes women grin and men guffaw. Take a look at the number of hits that these Old Spice commercials get on YouTube. That should give you a sense of how viral these commercials are.
This prankster meme refuses to die! ‘Rickrolling’ is when people pretend to send critical business email links in emails but they actually send links to Rick Astley music videos from the 1980s.
Christopher Walken immortalized the expression ‘more cowbell’ on Saturday Night Live. Today, ‘more cowbell’ is a daily expression of humor. This particular meme won’t reach you by email forwards, but you can certainly expect the expression ‘more cowbell’ to occur in daily conversation with the modern generation.
‘U mad bro’ is arguably a trifecta meme because it is simultaneously a meme, a conversational expression, and a form of trolling/flaming all at once. This meme expression allegedly started in 2003 when hip-hop musician Cam’Ron engaged in a heated discussion with talk show host Bill O’Reilly over how his music affected children. Over the last decade, ‘u mad bro’ has grown into a daily conversation term for the millennial generation, and spawned several versions of itself as ‘he mad’, ‘she mad’, ‘why you mad tho’, and more.
Randall, the Honey Badger Animal Narrator
Randall is an effeminate narrator who creates voice-overs for animal videos. He is renowned for coining the expression ‘honey badger don’t care,’ which is quickly becoming a conversational phrase of courage.
Randall’s narrating is flamboyant, irreverent, profane, sassy, and preposterous all at once. His internet fame started with his narration of a badger video, where the little beast would hunt and eat its prey on screen. Oddly, Randall’s narration is quite engaging, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting more Randall videos after honey badger.
Doge! Much Wow, Such Fun.
Since 2005, ‘doge’ has been a subculture meme thanks to the Homestar Runner puppet show. In this episode, the Homestar character nicknames his cohort, Strong Bad, as “d-o-g-e”.
Today, doge is a photograph meme commonly attached to photos of Shiba Inu dogs, combined with comic sans font and the use of bad grammar with comedic monologue text. Doge has also become the name for a new type of digital currency called ‘Dogecoins’.
‘Doge’ has two common pronunciations: as a rhyme with ‘rogue’, or pronounced as ‘dohj’.