A tech enthusiast who practically lives on the internet, I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy books, video games, and fanfiction in my free time.
What Is a Meme?
An internet phenomenon or a meme is an image, video, phrase or simply an idea that spreads from one person to another seemingly for no logical reason at all. When people see a meme, no matter how silly it usually is, they find it amusing for one reason or other and forward it to their friends; soon, millions of people know about it thanks to how quickly information can spread online and the viral effect. You can see the list of the best internet memes of all time below!
All-Time Top 10 Internet Memes
- This Is Sparta!
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us
- Oolong the Pancake Rabbit
- The "O RLY?" Owl
- Leeroy Jenkins
- It's Over Nine Thousand!
- Epic Fail
- Loituma Girl
An explosively popular phenomenon, lolcats are a photos of cats with a funny caption in lolspeak (also known as kitty pidgin). These captions might look completely random, but they actually have some popular sentence structures and may even contain other memes. It's believed this phenomenon originated from 4chan imageboards. You can often find lolcat pictures on forums which don't frown upon posting lolcat images as responses to the topic.
Crash Course in LOLspeak
- Often start your sentences with 'oh hai' and end them with 'kthxbye'.
- Lolcats go OM NOM NOM NOM when they eat foodz.
- White cats are usually Ceiling Cats. They are the Gods of the lolcat world. Correspondingly, black cats are Basement Cats and they are the loldevils.
- Have fun messing with the spelling, as long as the word is still pronounced similarly (action becomes akshun, etc).
- Use some popular lolcat sentence structures, such as:
- In your noun, verbing your noun (In ur fridge, eating ur foodz) - which is really a spinoff from another meme, "in your base, killing your dudes".
- Adjective noun is adjective (Long cat is long).
- OH HAI. I verbed ur noun (OH HAI. I eated ur cakez).
- Use left dislocation: Skillz. I has dem.
- Use singular verbs: I has a bunny.
- Use white Arial Black font with a black outline for lolcat captions.
- A LOLcat Colleckshun: A book with the best lolcat pictures ever. Great gift!
- ICanHasCheezburger.com: The home of lolcats with a gallery and a lolcat maker.
- LOLCode.org: A programming language based on lolcat grammar.
Rickrolling is one of the most widespread internet memes. It involves tricking people into clicking a link to a music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song "Never Gonna Give You Up". The URL is often masked using services like TinyURL.com and said to be relevant to the topic at hand. If a person falls for the trick, then he is officially rickrolled!
Rickrolling has become so popular that it has spread even outside the internet. On April 4, 2008, many blogs asked their readers to vote "Never Gonna Give You Up" for the 8th inning sing-along at Shea Stadium for the New York Mets season. The Mets posted a web poll to select a song, and left a blank field for write-ins. To the great surprise of the organizers, Rick Astley's song was the winner with more than five million votes. It was played during the home opener and greeted with a shower of boos from a crowd of 55,000 people.
Similarly in November 2008, Rick Astley was nominated for Best Act Ever at the MTV Europe Music Awards after the online nomination form was flooded with votes. However, during the actual show the Best Act category was treated like a joke, with Perez Hilton announcing that "MTV had been rickroll'd" instead of actually awarding Astley.
Rickroll Video on YouTube
If you've never been rickrolled in your life, now is the time. Click the video below and enjoy (over 40 million happy viewers!):
3. This Is Sparta!
THIS. IS. SPARTA!!! is a meme inspired by the brutal and overly dramatic movie 300, in which the Spartan king Leonidas shouts the line before killing a Persian messenger. The whole dialogue goes like this:
Messenger: Choose your next words carefully, Leonidas. They may be your last as king.
King Leonidas: [to himself] "Earth and water"?
[Leonidas unsheathes and points his sword at the Messenger's throat]
Messenger: Madman! You're a madman!
King Leonidas: Earth and water? You'll find plenty of both down there.
Messenger: No man, Persian or Greek, no man threatens a messenger!
King Leonidas: You bring the crowns and heads of conquered kings to my city steps. You insult my queen. You threaten my people with slavery and death! Oh, I've chosen my words carefully, Persian. Perhaps you should have done the same!
Messenger: This is blasphemy! This is madness!
King Leonidas: Madness . . . ? [shouting] This is Sparta!
[Kicks the messenger down the well]
The meme has been modified many times; you must have seen people posting things like THIS. IS. INTERNETS! and such. Basically anything can be (and has been) used to replace the last part of the line. This web fad has also inspired a number of silly images and videos.
4. All Your Base Are Belong to Us
All Your Base Are Belong To Us (also known as "All Your Base", "AYBABTU", or just "AYB") is an Engrish (broken English) phrase originating from the opening cut scene of the European Sega Mega Drive version of Zero Wing, a rather poorly translated Japanese video game by Toaplan.
AYBABTU became so popular not because of the game itself (indeed, most people spreading the meme never actually played Zero Wing), but because of various message boards (starting with SomethingAwful.com) and fan-made flash clips. The meme survived to this day thanks to occasional appearances in media, video games, T-shirts and webcomics. Some of these references are listed below.
All Your Base References
- On April 1, 2003 seven people placed signs all over Sturgis, Michigan that read, "All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time." While it was only an April Fool's joke, the police chief Eugene Alli said the signs could be "a borderline terrorist threat depending on what someone interprets it to mean."
- In February 2004, North Carolina State University students made the phrase appear in a news ticker on a live broadcast if News 14 Carolina channel.
- On June 1, 2006, YouTube was taken down temporarily for maintenance. The phrase "ALL YOUR VIDEO ARE BELONG TO US" appeared as a placeholder while the site was down. Some users really believed the site had been hacked, so YouTube later added a message: "No, we haven't been hacked. Get a sense of humor."
- During the MSNBC show "Countdown" on September 22, 2008, Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman said that the proposal presented to the US Congress concerning the federal bailout of failed financial institutions was the equivalent of US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson saying, "All your decisions are belong to me."
Transcript of the Original Zero Wing Opening
In A.D. 2101
War was beginning.
Captain: What happen ?
Mechanic: Somebody set up us the bomb.
Operator: We get signal.
Captain: What !
Operator: Main screen turn on.
Captain: It's you !!
CATS: How are you gentlemen !!
CATS: All your base are belong to us.
CATS: You are on the way to destruction.
Captain: What you say !!
CATS: You have no chance to survive make your time.
CATS: Ha ha ha ha ....
Operator: Captain !! *
Captain: Take off every 'ZIG'!!
Captain: You know what you doing.
Captain: Move 'ZIG'.
Captain: For great justice.
Several other phrases from the dialogue above (such as "for great justice" or "main screen turn on") have also been widely used in various instances of geek humor.
All Your Base Video
You can watch a techno remix of All Your Base Are Belong To Us that contains the original cut scene from the Zero Wing game as well as a lot of instances where this meme had been used, both online and in real life:
5. Oolong the Pancake Rabbit
Oolong (named after a certain variety of tea) was a domestic rabbit owned by a Japanese photographer Hironori Akutagawa. The rabbit was famous for the ability to balance various objects on his head (the owner called this trick "head performance"). Oolong achieved the status of an internet meme with a single photo where he balances a pancake on his head (see above). The picture was made into an image macro - much like with lolcats - and frequently posted on various online forums. The caption said: "I have no idea what you're talking about, so here's a bunny with a pancake on its head."
You can view the entire gallery of photos of a rabbit with various objects on his head on the owner's website. While it is in Japanese, it has received thousands of visitors from around the world and created a surprising number of Oolong fans.
Sadly, Oolong passed away on January 7th, 2003. His owner now has a new rabbit named Yuebing, which is a female of gray Netherlands dwarf variety. Akutagawa has been training her in the arts of "head performances" as well.
6. The "O RLY?" Owl
O RLY? (an abbreviation of "Oh, really?") is yet another internet phenomenon in a form of image macro (although just the phrase without the picture is often used as well). It dates back to at least year 2003 when it was used on the Something Awful forums. The photo of the snowy owl in the original image was taken by nature photographer John White, who posted it to the newsgroup alt.binaries.pictures.animals back in 2001. The phrase is often used in online forums to respond to posts in a sarcastic or mocking way. It is one of the internet memes that you are most likely to see on internet chatrooms.
The meme later came to include two more phrases, used in response to the first one:
O RLY Owl Meme References
- In the Game Boy Advance game Mega Man Battle Network 6, if the player tries the Humor program at Cyber Academy, Lan responds to a certain joke with "O Rly?" and MegaMan.EXE replies with "Ya Rly!". Also there is a "No Wai!" joke at the Expo Site.
- In the Xbox 360 version of the football game Blitz: The League, one of the hidden gamer achievements is called "O RLY?". It is earned by losing a Campaign Mode game by more than 24 points. Unsurprisingly, the image of this achievement is a snowy owl.
- The promotional video announcing the American license of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya anime features a short segment using pictures with the caption "O RLY?" in both English and Japanese. It starts with Yuki Nagato making a statement in Japanese, with an "O RLY?" image displayed, and with her replying, in Japanese, "Really." At the end of the segment, another picture saying "NO WAI!" is displayed.
- In the MMORPG Everquest 2, Orly and Yarly are two Hooluk (owl-like race) NPCs that stand above the portal on Whisperwind Isle in The Barren Sky.
- The TV show Totally Viral featured the O Rly Owl in its opening titles.
7. Leeroy Jenkins
Leeroy Jenkins is a character in the wildly popular machinima video "A Rough Go" which is taken during a World of Warcraft guild raid. In the video, the guild (called "PALS FOR LIFE") is making detailed plans on how to beat the Rookery room in the Upper Blackrock Spire (instanced dungeon that takes a lot of players to beat) while one of them - Leeroy - is away from his computer. All the raid is wiped spectacularly when he returns to his PC and just charges into the room without any preparation while shouting "Leeroy Jenkins!" into the microphone.
The video and the character have become extremely popular (to the point of being mentioned in a TV show) and achieved the internet phenomenon status. Watch the original Leeroy Jenkins YouTube video below:
The real name of the player who created Leeroy is Ben Schultz. After Leeroy became a celebrity in the World of Warcraft, poor guy couldn't even play the game properly on his character because people kept sending him in-game messages 24/7. The internet meme since then had spread from gaming to online and mainstream media.
Leeroy Jenkins References
- Blizzard added a "Jenkins" title to WoW players who could kill 50 of the famous dragon whelps from the movie within 15 seconds, with the achievement "Leeeeeeeeeeeeeroy!" being attained for the same accomplishment.
- In Bioware's RPG/Shooter video game Mass Effect, there is a character named Jenkins who at the very beginning charges in to attack the enemies and promptly dies.
- Leeroy Jenkins was mentioned as part of a clue on the November 16, 2005 episode of the TV show Jeopardy! as part of their college week tournament.
- There is a Leeroy Jenkins card in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game.
- There are many Leeroy Jenkins parodies and fan videos. Before you go, check out this catchy fan-made Leeroy Jenkins techno remix:
8. It's Over Nine Thousand!
IT'S OVER NINE THOUSAND! is one of the most popular anime memes. It originates from the English dub of the Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) anime which is famous for it's painfully long, over-the-top fights with a lot of "powerups" and screaming. People often use this meme when numbers or levels of some sort are involved.
It's Over Nine Thousand Original Transcript
Nappa: "VEGETA! What does the scouter say about his power level?"
Vegeta: "IT'S OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAAAAAAAND!" *crushes scouter*
Nappa: WHAT, NINE THOUSAND!?
You can watch an excerpt from the original DBZ "over 9000" scene below:
9. Epic Fail
While fail is normally used as a verb, on the internet it has become a noun meaning a spectacular failure of some sort - basically the opposite of success, or win. It can also signify disapproval of something (such as "this movie fails", an example given by UrbanDictionary). The word "epic" is often added for a bigger effect. When the fail is so big it boggles the mind, it becomes epic; in other words, it is a failure of epic proportions.
While you could say that Epic Fail is more like internet slang than a meme, it has spawned thousands of image macros and videos. Fail BLOG, a website dedicated to sharing fail photos and other images, is probably the most popular source. Visit it if you feel like laughing at someone else's expense. There are lots of other smaller sites hosting fail pictures as well.
Youtube also has many fail video compilations which show people failing to do something and often getting hurt as a result—something most people secretly love to watch, if the popularity of these videos is any indication.
10. Loituma Girl
Loituma Girl, also known as "Leekspin" is a combination of a 4-frame animation loop taken from a Japanese anime Bleach and a gibberish part (all the words are made up) of a traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka" (sometimes misspelled Levan Polka) sung by the Finnish quartet Loituma. The song is taken from the band's debut album Things of Beauty (1995). The animation comes from the second episode of Bleach, and features Inoue Orihime twirling a spring onion in her hand. In the anime, jokes are often made about Orihime since she likes to cook weird and often inedible stuff.
This web fad quickly became popular and hundreds of websites and blogs started linking to the flash animation of Loituma Girl. The Finnish band Loituma were shocked to see the massive amount of traffic to their website and thousands of fan letters from around the world and even more confused when they saw the animation. Watch the Loituma Girl original animation on YouTube below:
Loituma Girl References
- In early 2009 Weetabix Limited - a UK food company - used the song in an advert for their "ready brek" cereal.
- In April 2007 Eneco - a Dutch power company - used the song of Loituma Girl in its TV commercial for "ecostroom" (green energy).
- In May 2007, Wrigley's used this song in an ad on German TV for their "Extra" gum.
- The Dutch company Artiq Mobile launched a website where people could upload home-made Loituma girl spoof videos and compete for a prize of 500 euros.
- Patrick Macias from BBC radio said the following: "This is basically a joke for someone who spends all of their time staring at a computer, made by people who spend all of their time staring at a computer. It's possible to read deeper meanings into it, but it sort of defeats the purpose because in the end it's just this hypnotic clip of animation.
Loituma Girl Vocaloid Adaption
One of the promotional videos for Yamaha's voice synthesizer and singer program Vocaloid featured Hatsune Miku (an anime-style mascot character for the software) waving a green onion and performing the Ievan Polkka using Vocaloid's digital singing synthesis. This "Leek Girl" video has received over 3 million views. Click here to watch it.
More Internet Memes
- Know Your Meme
Know Your Meme is the largest internet meme database complete with pictures, videos, and detailed explanations of each web fad. Users can submit new content and discuss existing memes.
- List of Internet phenomena on Wikipedia
Wikipedia has a detailed and explanatory article listing many different internet phenomena.
helppp on October 26, 2017:
anonymous on January 17, 2017:
This list makes me uncomfortable now that it is 2017
Nelly van der Werff from The Netherlands on July 18, 2014:
tjgurley95 on April 07, 2014:
joinyobsn on January 20, 2014:
Pretty cool lens!
anonymous on September 14, 2013:
@anonymous: I HATE YOU THAT IS LORD OF THE RINGS "ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WALK INTO MORDOR'' I AM SOOOO ANGRY YOU DISED GANDALF!
anonymous on September 03, 2013:
where's the game of throne :"one does not simply.." meme?
anonymous on September 03, 2013:
where's the game of throne :"one does not simply.." meme?
anonymous on August 23, 2013:
Rickroll is one of the most addictive videos on youtube.
anonymous on August 12, 2013:
This is so funny!! LOLcats made me actually LOL. Meme to me is pretty much just a picture to get attention for no reason, make everyone laugh and smile!
socialcx1 on July 15, 2013:
Learn something new everyday. Fascinating lens.
Alansongomez on June 28, 2013:
Awesome lens! I like memes. I would agree with the rest. They are really super cool and funny!
seodress on June 23, 2013:
anonymous on June 12, 2013:
Why did you burn all my money?
Go suck some meatloaf!
RyanOnInsanity on May 17, 2013:
Anyone remember bub rub and lil sis?
anonymous on May 07, 2013:
Probably time for this list to get an update, no?
MythYes on May 06, 2013:
I love memes. They always make me laugh.
JimmPlus on May 04, 2013:
I know much more about Memes after reading this informative article. Great effort. Keep updating it.
mariacarbonara on April 16, 2013:
These are so cool. Will show them to my boy
criysto lm on April 08, 2013:
Creative lens! I've seen most of these but I have not seen a couple. Great job.
SashaAnderson on April 05, 2013:
Yeah i'm a big fan of meme specially on facebook :)
JulieMigua on April 05, 2013:
hi there..good lens you created.
its really fun and attractive.!!!
JayRockins on March 26, 2013:
No overly attached girlfriend?
What about Good Guy Greg?
anonymous on March 19, 2013:
sad but true
iconicmind lm on March 19, 2013:
Awesome list... somehow missed Loituma Girl prior to coming here
MamaWildcraft on March 16, 2013:
oh hai! Very funny! Thanks for the compilation. kthxbye.
momsfunny on March 13, 2013:
Everything one should know about meme. Great job on this lens!
GeekGirl1 on March 11, 2013:
fun and informative>
Socialpro54 LM on March 11, 2013:
attractive and informative, nice
domainnamecheap on March 11, 2013:
Well explained, thankX.
anonymous on March 09, 2013:
If you guys haven't heard, Harlem SHake is now a meme :D
Gigglesmith on March 09, 2013:
Oolong should be #1 ;)
Fridayonmymind LM on March 05, 2013:
Okay, a few things have become clearer now. Thanks for the info.
spencerharry80 lm on March 04, 2013:
Really nice lens... well prepared and informative... Thanks dear.
reubenarmd on March 03, 2013:
lmao i absolutely agree
spencerharry80 lm on March 02, 2013:
The lens is really nice, attractive and informative... nice piece of work.
uneasywriter lm on March 01, 2013:
Great lens and subject that could go on forever! Thanks!
Cold0911 on February 28, 2013:
CristianStan on February 23, 2013:
These are hilarious! Memes are what makes the Internet fun and enjoyable
Zero_000 on February 22, 2013:
Funny :D Good lens, keep it up :D
MooshkaDaisy on February 21, 2013:
Nice topic for the lens. I learned whar are memes. :)
mattwebber on February 20, 2013:
Really nice collection. It's good to find all these memes in one place :)
Mastery on February 20, 2013:
Now I understand what is meme!
pauly99 lm on February 18, 2013:
Funny. Until this point I was really unaware of what a meme is/was.
Some great videos there!
selenabrandal on February 11, 2013:
I'm new here at squidoo. is fun and full of creativity like you.
RLWalker LM on February 08, 2013:
I think also "bedroom intruder" could be on this page.
chickie99 on February 02, 2013:
voicesusa on January 29, 2013:
One of my favorites is the Bad Luck Brian
JeromyS7 on January 26, 2013:
Should add the new Obama meme! LOL!
JBradshaw on January 16, 2013:
Awesome stuff!! I didn't know what RickRolling was. LOL. Now I'm going to have that dang song stuck in my head all day!
3WEdge on January 14, 2013:
Lee from Derbyshire, UK on January 04, 2013:
Great lens - love the now 'retro'ness of some of the memes.
Accounting-firm on January 01, 2013:
Great lens. well done
Bilderberg on December 31, 2012:
@ThisGirlWrites: Do you know Nakia van Valk?
anonymous on December 30, 2012:
No, 8 should be 9001.
my2165 on December 28, 2012:
Awesome lens, loved it
greentiger11 on December 27, 2012:
Leeeeerooy Jenkins just about had me spit water all over my screen. I had heard about it while playing Final Fantasy but never went to actually watch the video! WOW that was hilarious!
cstrouse lm on December 25, 2012:
Need grumpy cat on that list he's awesome
Bynkis on December 25, 2012:
Tis is sparta!!!!!
ThisGirlWrites on December 23, 2012:
I love LOLcats.
rdcbizz on December 23, 2012:
Auriel on December 21, 2012:
andreycosmin on December 20, 2012:
nice lens thank you
forextrading2000 on December 18, 2012:
You have some great information here. What a fun lens.
maryseena on December 14, 2012:
anonymous on December 11, 2012:
thiis is SPARTA!!!!
RandySturridge on December 08, 2012:
THIS IS SPARTA
anonymous on December 08, 2012:
mistaben on December 08, 2012:
Great Lens, most memes are interesting.
pinkrenegade lm on December 07, 2012:
Mostly, internet memes are fun! I can't rank which is the best but really, they're amusing and interesting!
llaurenbutler on December 06, 2012:
like a boss!
webhostingrevie on December 03, 2012:
Nice lens. Must appreciate your effort.
kellysharma lm on November 29, 2012:
I am new to this platform and just came across with this wonderful lens. Thanks for sharing
anonymous on November 26, 2012:
Always fun to stop by this lens again,
Happy holidays to you, Chad! :)
PeterStip on November 25, 2012:
Religion is the greatest meme of all.
fun lens to read.
jimconrad2 on November 24, 2012:
They need to teach this in school - memeology.
realestatebeiru1 on November 21, 2012:
nice lens good information
Metalpriest on November 19, 2012:
Love your lens! Especially love that video of King Leonidas! Thank you friend.
jedwards44 on November 16, 2012:
Well you just put a smile on my face with this lens. Some great memes. Had me in stitches!
homesweethomebi1 on November 15, 2012:
anonymous on November 09, 2012:
I am looking for some funny SEO pics cause i am a SEO service provider and i need some funny pics related to SEO, but the problem is i am not a graphic designer and i cant make anything by myself, i need something like memlol pics, if someone can help please write on my wall, anyhow very good lens.
moneymaker_cp on November 09, 2012:
I like those funny pics.
latishaalford on November 08, 2012:
anonymous on November 08, 2012:
Funny lens!He..he..I just laughed till my stomach ached.
AdityaAgarwal on November 08, 2012:
i am still giggling
Freestuffer LM on November 04, 2012:
hahaha! Hilarious! I like the O rely Owl
beaworkathomemom on October 30, 2012:
EPIC FAIL! it never fails. hahaha. made my day! thanks for sharing!
rooshoo on October 27, 2012:
Great lens. Very funny. Oolong the Pankcake Rabbit is so cute.
IslandsTropicalM on October 26, 2012:
Really great, thanks for sharing
Mr-Panda LM on October 20, 2012:
Awesome lens. Now I know who Leeeeroy Jenkins is =)
anonymous on October 19, 2012:
This isn't what a meme is. There's no cultural transmission, as the original definition states. The inventor of the idea of a meme has also said it's not just funny pictures.
Totus Mundus on October 17, 2012:
Very nice lens, most memes are very funny.
Frisor on October 16, 2012:
Great lens. Thank you for sharing.
Cam Marotta on October 13, 2012:
Wow, congrats on getting so many likes!
yogendrachavda on October 11, 2012:
I like memes a lot.. they refresh my day and make me smile and laugh.. thanks for sharing
Alessandro Zamboni from Italy on October 10, 2012:
Awesome lens, I love memes and I like to design new ones every week!
I've also released an ebook entirely about memes, two thumbs up for your lens!
anonymous on October 09, 2012:
Looove the Rickrolling :)
Still remember the days were almost every time I opened a video it turned out to be a rickroll :)
philipcott on October 09, 2012:
Smashbooks LM on October 05, 2012:
Fun lens! Washingon state legislature did a rickroll video--they actually worked the lines into their debate over a bill!
anonymous on October 05, 2012:
thanks for sharing