The 14 best, funniest memes of 2016, from Biden to the Mannequin Challenge
The world's warmest year has everything! A spike in hate crimes, a presidential cabinet fit for the 1940s and some of the biggest hacks of all time. Sadly, the cute little Bramble Cay melomys won't be able to join us (RIP).
The verdict is still out on whether we would have survived 2016 without memes, our glimmer of light in this dark, dark year. Feeling the crippling anxiety over the future of your reproductive rights? Relatable wholesome memes are here for you, my friend.
Let's take a moment to appreciate some of the sweet memes that soothed our swelling fear of doom this year. A warning: Some memes we grew to love this year, like Crying Jordan, became popular in 2015 and have thus been omitted. If you have a problem with that, don't talk to me or my editor ever again.
There's truly no meme more satisfying than one that nourishes your narcissism. The "Tag Yourself" meme can be traced back to a Tumblr post from January 2016. Its poorly drawn pop culture references ask you to choose which you most identify with.
*Record Scratch* *Freeze Frame*
While this meme, imitating the movie trope of scratching vinyl followed by a still of a movie character in an unsuspecting situation, first appeared on 4chan in 2015, it didn't spread on Twitter until this year. The meme has proven hugely useful during 2016's political climate, notably when President-elect Donald Trump met with President Barack Obama at the White House in November, and Obama turned to the camera with a perfect Jim Halpert face.
Then Mitt Romney did the same, posing for a photo at a dinner with Trump looking like a man who'd just sold his soul.
Dat Boi is another meme that crouched in the shadows of the web until wheeling into our hearts mid-2016. O shit, waddup? Here comes dat boi! The frog riding a unicycle started to take off after it was posted on a Facebook page dedicated to memes in April 2016, according to Know Your Meme. The rest is history.
Not all memes have humble beginnings. Harambe, formerly of the Cincinnati Zoo, was fatally shot in May after a 4-year-old boy fell into the animal's enclosure. The bereaved public sought justice, and the internet sought virality. The Harambe meme went from solemn to weird to racist, and then slowly dissipated from the web. So it goes.
This meme featuring a close-up of PBS Kids' aardvark darling clenching his fist underneath his yellow sweater quickly proliferated the Twitterverse, as most relatable memes do. But as Mic's Philip Lewis pointed out, it was also used as a timely and clever expression to address race relations in the United States.
These memes intend to wrap you up in a warm blanket of pixels. Wholesome memes take existing memes and make them, well, wholesome. They embody a quality becoming increasingly rare on the web — the absence of snark. These little memes just want to make you feel good!
You vs. The Guy She Told You Not to Worry About
This meme originated in 2015, according to Know Your Meme, but didn't find its moment until 2016. The meme features two side-by-side images. The one on the left is supposed to indicate "you" and the one on the right is "the guy she told you not to worry about." The one on the right is objectively better. Nothing like a relatable dose of self-deprecation to get those retweets.
The day after Valentine's Day, the internet swooned over high schooler Daniel Lara and his white Vans. His friend, Josh Holz, posted a 30-second video compilation of Daniel walking across the screen while Holz proclaims, "Damn, Daniel!" Their affectionate bromance can now boast hundreds of thousands of retweets. Damn.
Mr. Krabs Blur
Someone tweeted a photo of SpongeBob SquarePants' Mr. Krabs in a confused blur in January with the caption "When you just wake up from a nap and your parents already yelling at you." It went viral, and so did the image of Mr. Krabs, used often to convey a state of confusion or panic.
If you've taken a cursory scroll through Twitter in the last few weeks, you've almost certainly seen this meme. The image of kermit talking to a cloaked version of himself is like a modern version of the angel and devil on your shoulder. The Kermit on the left says what you should do, while the Kermit on the right conveys your deepest desires.
The most artful meme of the year began with high schoolers freezing in place like Renaissance-era statues, creating a living diorama of teenage drama. It went viral seemingly instantly — catapulting the Mannequin Challenge (and its common background music, Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles") into internet fame.
Hillary Clinton and her campaign team took it upon themselves to freeze in place, encouraging viewers to vote. A very good dog took on the challenge (can I get the name of his obedience school?). And then Thanksgiving rolled around, and families thought it'd be cute to freeze at their feasts. It wasn't.
Name a More Iconic Duo
A user on Twitter posted a photo of Kendall and Kylie Jenner, challenging followers to "name a more iconic duo... I'll wait." The internet noticed and ran with it. Iconic duos, mostly ironic, flooded the Twittersphere. It was beautiful.
Prankster Joe Biden
This meme — photos of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden captioned with practical jokes Biden planned to play on the incoming Trump administration — served as a necessary crutch for anyone already grieving the impending loss of Obama, his family and his right-hand man.
"This Is Fine"
This meme became popular before this year. I know. I fucking know. But the the flames were fanned as Trump rose to power in 2016. Tag yourself: I'm the happy dog having a coffee while the world burns down around me.