Can you remember life before memes? If you’re under 30, probably not. If you’re over 30, you probably remember when memes were handwritten with feather quills atop postcard-sized works of art. And you need to restock your eye cream.
To pay tribute to some of the most culturally important works of art in the history of humankind, are the funniest memes of all time.
The Funniest Memes on the Internet
1. American Chopper Argument
American Chopper was a reality TV show featuring Orange County Choppers, a custom motorcycle company in New York. Instead of us getting to watch custom paint drying on choppers, it highlighted the toxic relationship between Paul Teutel, Sr. and his son, Paul Teutel, Jr.
2. Woman and Cat Yelling
On the left is Taylor Armstrong from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in 2011, pointing and yelling at someone or some poorly arranged flower vase. On the right is a cat named Smudge, who is clearly offended that you said he “needed a salad.”
Armstrong isn’t really screaming at Smudge (because that fluffball could never do anything wrong), but the photo combo, which was originally created by @MISSINGEGIRL, became a meme minefield for opposing opinions. Those exist on the Internet?
3. Scumbag Steve
We’ve all had one too many “Steves” in our lives. If you haven’t, please give us the number of the devil who bought your soul, because we have an offer to make.
The image itself actually first appeared on the cover of an album by a group called Beantown Mafia in which “Steve,” AKA Blake Boston, was a rapper. Even better, the original photo was taken by Blake’s mother.
4. Distracted Boyfriend
Perusing stock photo websites is our pastime, just behind watching Dr. Pimple Popper videos. Sure, we need better hobbies, but we’re not alone in this because the Distracted Boyfriend meme is the result of a stock photo that exploded the internet.
It makes for a pretty timeless meme since we’re always distracted by something. Oh look, another popping video!
5. Grumpy Cat
Grumpy Cat graced the Internet’s presence for the first time on Reddit in 2012 and went viral within hours. Unfortunately, Grumpy Cat (aka Tardar Sauce) died in 2019, but her spirit, frowny face, and place in the Meme Hall of Fame live on forever.
6. Crying Dawson
The CW teen drama Dawson’s Creek provided us with a lot of entertainment in the late 90s. And this close-up of Dawson’s (James Van Der Beek) face, has been used to sarcastically display remorse, sorroy, or pity. Seriously, just “cry us into a creek” already.
While the “True Love” episode aired on May 24, 2000, it was this four second YouTube video uploaded in 2006 that really set the meme in motion. Even better, Van Der Beek was such a good sport about it that he fake-wept for the entire internet in 2011.
The Philosoraptor meme features a velociraptor asking life’s most important questions. In 2008, the original illustration was released and copyrighted by artist Sam Smith as a t-shirt design. No, not that Sam Smith. Not that one either. Or that one….
It’s hard to know for sure who was the first person to place text over the design and turn into the meme monster it is today, but thank goodness they did or we might all still be full of existential dread even more than we are now.
8. Success Kid
While many memes may be used to be condescending or to mimic people, Success Kid is generally super positive and helps celebrate all those wins in life.
The ironic thing is the original photo was not showing success, but rather frustration. Taken by photographer Laney Griner of her then 11-month-old son Sammy in 2007, the photo went viral after she posted it on her Flickr account. How do we explain this…it’s like an early version of Instagram?
It wasn’t until 2011 that one of the earliest Success Kid memes was uploaded to Reddit. And if that’s not enough for positivity, the sensation of the meme was used to generate enough donations for Sammy’s dad’s kidney transplant in 2015. Success, indeed!
9. Condescending Willy Wonka
A screengrab of Gene Wilder from the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory turned a playful scene into a sarcastic, condescending meme series that befits the reclusive Wonka himself.
The photo of 11-year-old Maggie Goldenberger that gave birth to this glorious meme shows off that gloriously awkward middle school age that kids these days seem to not be going through.
The photo began circulating the internet with the caption “Ermahgerd Gersberms,” which translates to “Oh my god, Goosebumps.” Ah, the simple highs of a Scholastic book fair. From there, it took off with nonsensical pronunciations of other items that only the Internet could understand.
11. Futurama Squinting Fry
Feeling a little confused or skeptical? We give you this screengrab from Season 2, Episode 6 of Futurama, “The Lesser of Two Evils.” It offers the best facial expression for all those moments of I’m not quite sure, but something doesn’t feel right here. Also evidenced in all photos from our 30th birthday party.
12. Evil Kermit
In this still from Muppets Most Wanted, Sith Kermit consults normal Kermit to visualize his inner monologue. Spoiler: It gets dark. Upside: You can use this Evil Kermit meme to fuel your pettiest desires.
13. Roll Safe/ Guy Tapping Head
The meme of the guy tapping his head to imply using some flawed “critical thinking” skills came from BBC 3’s #HoodDocumentary series.
An oral sex quip was made by the character R.S. (aka Roll Safe) played by Kayod Equmi, and now the screengrab is used for arguably questionable life advice… also known as “advice from my sister.”
14. Kim Kardashian in Bed
Ever laid in bed staring blankly while avoiding all responsibilities? Kim Kardashian has too! Celebrities – they’re just like us.
15. Disaster Girl
This meme didn’t come from a stock photo. Zoe Roth’s dad caught her looking a little too happy during their local fire department’s live drill training, posted it on the Internet, and memers took over.
Good news – Roth is now in her 20s and not an arsonist. In fact, she recently sold an original copy of the meme as an NFT for half a million dollars. She donated the money to charity and paid off her student loans.
16. I Am Once Again Asking for Your Financial Support Bernie Meme
Only Bernie Sanders can create two viral memes in one year while wearing the same jacket. (His only jacket?) And he did it by keeping it real, as always, saying “I am once again asking for your financial support” in his December 2019 fundraising video.
Although that makes perfect contextual sense, people ran with it to create a meme that’s popular for any scenario in which you’re asking for something. But we’d still like the cash.
17. Surprised Pikachu
Feign surprise with Pikachu on your side using this meme that showcases a screenshot from the anime Pokémon. The episode the image originated from is Season 1, Episode 10 at exactly the 3:05 time mark.
But it was in late 2018 when the Internet started pairing surprised Pikachu with captions that showed surprise despite a predictable outcome. I choose you, sarcasm!
18. All Right Then, Keep Your Secrets
Taken from the 2001 film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, this shot captures Frodo with a questionably happy facial expression. Did he have an extra special second breakfast?
If his look of bemusement wasn’t good enough, Frodo actually uttered the phrase, “All right then, keep your secrets,” making it so that memers only had to come up with half of the joke. It’s like they don’t even know what hard work is anymore.
19. Awkward Moment Seal
Life is awkward, but this little seal is here to help see you through it. Just don’t forget to bring him fish – he gets bitey.
20. Arthur’s Fist
Ever been so mad you can’t do anything but tense up and clench your fists? The Arthur’s Fist meme will help you explain your frustration. We know. Words are solid. Thanks for that, Thesaurus!
The screenshot is from Episode 1, Season 4 of the children’s TV show, Arthur. In this scene, Arthur is shown clenching his fist before punching his little sister, D.W. Wait, what?
If you want a meme that expresses just how much you prefer something (cake) over something else (vegetables), then Drake has you covered with his “Hotline Bling” dance moves.
If you somehow managed to miss his 2015 music video, give it the old college watch so you can experience Drake dancing in empty, color changing rooms. Which explains our college years more than we’d like to admit.
22. This Is Fine Dog
The world is on fire meme that we may have overused in 2020 comes from a comic strip known as Gunshow
If you’re a pro at ignoring how bad things really are until they’re catastrophic, then this is the response meme for you. And you can join our club! We meet on Monday mornings. What a great time.
23. Is This a…?
In the anime series The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, the character mistakes a butterfly for a pigeon. Common mistake.
By swapping out the butterfly and the pigeon for literally anything or any concept, this meme works for plenty of occasions
— J Jennifer Espinoza (@sadqueer4life) May 1, 2018
24. Bad Joke Eel
The original image for this meme was taken by Jeffrey N. Jeffords while scuba diving in the Philippines. The moray eel made his first joke on Reddit in January 2012, and he’s been giving dads a run for their money ever since.
25. The Most Interesting Man in the World
Borrowed from a Dos Equis marketing campaign, the most interesting man in the world is also suave and confident and apparently does whatever he wants. The photo is most commonly accompanied by a “I don’t always ____, but when I do, I ______.”
26. First World Problems
The next time you want to cry about your high speed WiFi being down, just know you could become a meme once the Internet comes back on.
The hashtag #FirstWorldProblems was started in 2009 as a way to trivialize things not worth complaining about. in 2011, the world mashed it together with this stock image of a crying woman and Silvia Bottini has been famous since.
28. Daily Struggle
Unlike most of the other memes, the image and the meme originated together on this one.
In 2014, animator Jake Clark posted the original comic on his Tumblr which showed a visibly shaken character struggling to choose between “Be a dick” and “Don’t be a dick.” We still can’t figure out the right answer, which probably explains why we’re always so sweaty.
The Internet took that image and spawned various iterations from it, many of which swap the character’s head for another. Clark credited his inspiration from the Sweating Towel Guy illustration and Hank Nova from the video game Timesplitters 2.
30. But That’s None of My Business
The Internet made Kermit a meme twice in 2014. Once as Evil Kermit, and this time, drinking iced tea and throwing major shade with the line “but that’s none of my business.”
31. Baby Yoda Sipping Soup
While he’s had plenty of adorable memes and GIF-worthy moments, this still from Episode 4, Season 1, just about takes the cake. Or soup if you’re “The Child.”
The image has been paired with text relating to anything coy, and even his cup has been swapped out. We doubt Baby Yoda needs more chicken tendies from McDonald’s…but that’s none of our business.
32. Pablo Escobar Waiting
It can be a sad and lonely place in the world, especially when all of your friends have left your Animal Crossing island. But fear not – drug lords can feel the same way
In October 2016, shortly after the release of Narcos Season 2, this three-image collage of Pablo Escobar (played by Wagner Moura) was born. Whether depicting the feeling of waiting for your 12th Amazon package of the week or when all two of your friends are busy, this meme hits home. You DEA guys want any munchies?
33. Spider-Man Pointing at Spider-Man
This meme, which started taking off in the mid 2010’s on Black Twitter and went viral thanks to FreddyAmazin’s Twitter post and this Reddit post, features an image from a 1960’s episode of the Spider-Man cartoon where two people in Spider-Man costumes are pointing at each other.
Just place a mirror in front of us and it’s basically us. We’re just gonna need help getting this suit off okay? Where are you all going?
34. Pepe Silvia
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia struck gold again! Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the line down to it.
In Season 4 Episode 10 Charlie goes on a conspiratorial rant about how he believes a person named “Pepe Silvia” does not exist, despite having “boxes full of Pepe.” His dedication to finding the truth may look psychotic to some, but we don’t know how else we’d be able to convey our own crazy theories without it. Don’t eat the popcorn. Just trust us.
35. Overly Attached Girlfriend
This meme originated from a 2012 video by vlogger Laina Morris and is used to portray things a very clingy girlfriend might say. This makes total sense when you learn that the video was a parody rendition of Justin Beiber’s “Boyfriend” that has some pretty stalker-like lyrics.
From the blank stare in the beginning to the verses that honestly kinda slap, it’s not exactly a surprise that it made it to Reddit the very next day à la meme style. Don’t worry, Laina is a good sport about it. With 20 million video views, we wouldn’t be mad either.
36. Religion Pigeon
In case you’re the type to pick up on religious contradictions, the Religion Pigeon meme is for you. If you think pigeons are really drones placed by the government, may we direct you to the Pepe Silvia meme above.
37. Evil Cows
The first known use of the Evil Cows as a meme was in 2012, thanks to Redditor Drunkmonkey 35. But, the first known use of the image (without text) was in 2002. It was posted in reply to a news story about an employee who was fired for refusing to pray to Jesus, which is a better origin story than we ever could have hoped for.
38. Pun Dog
This baby just loves his stuffed animal so much that it seems like he’s telling you a really good punch line. And then you get punched with a pun. Considering this pup is a world-class fighter, you lucked out!
The original images were uploaded to Reddit in 2012 with the first meme in 2013. Cheers could be heard from Dad’s around the world.
The primary antagonist in the Masters of the Universe, Skeletor is a stereotypical villain…over-the-top, tends to monologue, has great style.
There are a number of different types of memes originating from this villain and they’re all far too relatable. But we shouldn’t be surprised that we resonate so well with a character that’s dead inside.
40. Hide The Pain Harold
Another stock photo gone right is the Hide the Pain Harold. Harold constantly looks like he’s in despair but always tries to put on a happy face. If “happy” is synonymous with “seriously unsure.”
41. Crying Michael Jordan
There may not be crying in baseball, but there is in basketball. At least when you’re Michael Jordan and it’s your Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech.
42. Math Lady / Confused Lady
This meme was pulled from a scene in the telenova Senhora do Destino and features Brazilian actress Renata Sorrah trying to do some serious mental math.
It’s the perfect reaction meme to use anytime you’re confused, like when you were convinced that Sigoruney Weaver was in Ghostbusters. We’ve used it 10 times today already.