List of Internet phenomena

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Not to be confused with Internet celebrity.

This is a partial list of social and cultural phenomena specific to the Internet, such as popular themes, catchphrases, images, viral videos, jokes, and more. When such fads and sensations occur online, they tend to grow rapidly and become more widespread because the instant communication facilitates word of mouth.

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Animation and comics

Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, founders of JibJab
The adult brony fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic grew from its 4chan roots
xkcd's "Wikipedian Protestor" comic
  • 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.[20][21][22]
  • 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.[23][24][25]
  • Badger Badger Badger – A hypnotic loop of animal calisthenics set to the chant of "badger, badger, badger", created by Jonti "Weebl" Picking.
  • "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.[26][27][28]
  • Charlie the Unicorn – A four-part series of videos involving a unicorn who is repeatedly hoodwinked by two other unnamed unicorns, colored blue and pink, who take him on elaborate adventures in order to steal his belongings or cause him physical harm.[29]
  • Dancing baby – A 3D-rendered dancing baby that first appeared in 1996 by the creators of Character Studio for 3D Studio MAX, and became something of a late 1990s cultural icon in part due to its exposure on world-wide commercials, editorials about Character Studio, and the popular television series Ally McBeal.[30]
  • Happy Tree Friends – A series of Flash cartoons featuring cute cartoon animals experiencing violent and gruesome accidents.[31]
  • Homestar Runner – A Flash animated Internet cartoon by Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel, created in 1996 and popularized in 2000, along with Matt Chapman. The cartoon contains many references to popular culture from the 1980s and 1990s, including video games, television, and popular music.[32]
  • Joe Cartoon – Alias of online cartoonist Joe Shields. Best known for his interactive Flash animations Frog in a Blender[33] and Gerbil in a Microwave,[34] released in 1999.[35] Two of the first Flash cartoons to receive fame on the Internet.[36]
  • Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin) – Loop of Orihime Inoue from Bleach twirling a leek set to the music of Loituma.[37]
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is MagicHasbro's 2010 animated series to revive its toy line was discovered by members of 4chan and subsequently spawned a large adult, mostly male fanbase calling themselves "bronies" and creating numerous Internet memes and mashups based on elements from the show.[38][39]
  • Nyan Cat – A YouTube video of an animated flying cat, set to a Utau song.[40]
  • Rage comics – A large set of pre-drawn images including crudely drawn stick figures, clip art, and other art work, typically assembled through website generators, to allow anyone to assemble a comic and post to various websites and boards; the New York Times claims thousands of these are created daily.[41] 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 can also be 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 schizophrenic green man in a desolate world populated mostly by deformed, functionally mute people.[42]
  • This LandFlash animation produced by JibJab featuring cartoon faces of George W. Bush and John Kerry singing a parody of "This Land is Your Land" that spoofs the United States presidential election, 2004. The video became a viral hit and viewed by over 100 million, leading to the production of other JibJab hits, including Good to be in D.C. and Big Box Mart.[43]
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny – A lethal battle royal between many notable real and fictitious characters from popular culture. Set to a song of the same name, written and performed by Neil Cicierega under his musician alias, "Lemon Demon."[44]
  • 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.[45]
  • xkcd – A webcomic created by Randall Munroe, popularized on the Internet due to a high level of math-, science- and geek-related humor,[46] with certain jokes being reflected in real-life, such as using Wikipedia's "[citation needed]" tag on real world signs[47] or the addition of an audio preview for YouTube comments.[48]

Email

See also: Virus hoax and Chain-letter
  • Bill Gates Email Beta Test – An email chain-letter that first appeared in 1997 and was still circulating as recently as 2007. The message claims that America Online and Microsoft are conducting a beta test and for each person you forward the email to, you will receive a payment from Bill Gates of more than $200. Realistic contact information for a lawyer appears in the message.[49][50]
  • Craig Shergold – a British former cancer patient who is most famous for receiving an estimated 350 million greeting cards, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1991 and 1992. Variations of the plea for greeting cards sent out on his behalf in 1989 are still being distributed through the Internet, making the plea one of the most persistent urban legends.[51]
  • 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.[52][53]
  • 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.[54] 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.[55] The Navy has a page specifically devoted to pointing out that many of the ships named weren't even in service at the time.[56]
  • 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.[57] The message is a classic pyramid scheme – you receive an email with a list of names and are asked to send $5 by postal mail to the person whose name is at the top of the list, add your own name to the bottom, and forward the updated list to a number of other people.[58]
  • Mouse Ball Replacement Memo – A memorandum circulated to IBM field service technicians detailing the proper procedures for replacing mouse balls, yet filled with a number of sexual innuendos. The memo actually was written by someone at IBM and distributed to technicians, but it was distributed as a corporate in-joke, and not as an actual policy or procedure. On the Internet, the memo can be traced as far back as 1989.[59]
  • 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.[60][61]
  • 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 it; 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.[62]

Film

  • The Blair Witch Project – The film's producers used Internet marketing to create the impression that the documentary-style horror film featured real, as opposed to fictional, events.[63]
  • Brokeback Mountain – inspired many online parody trailers.[64]
  • CloverfieldParamount Pictures used a viral marketing campaign to promote this monster movie.[65]
  • Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus – The theatrical trailer released in mid-May 2009 became a viral hit, scoring over one million hits on MTV.com and another 300,000 hits on YouTube upon launch, prompting brisk pre-orders of the DVD.[66]
  • Pepsi MAX & Jeff Gordon Present: Test Drive - A short film where NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon poses as an average car buyer to prank a cars salesman.[67] A sequel, Test Drive 2, was released the following year, with Gordon pranking a writer who had branded the original video as fake.[68]
  • Re-cut/Mashup Movie Trailers – 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.[69][70]
  • RedLetterMedia/Mr. Plinkett Reviews – Independent filmmaker Mike Stoklasa's long, in-depth critical reviews of the Star Wars prequel trilogy and several other large budget films, re-enacted under his crotchety "Mr. Plinkett" persona, became highly popular through word-of-mouth on the Internet.[71]
  • Snakes on a Plane – 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.[72]
  • Marble Hornets is 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 intercontinuity 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.[73][74][75]
  • The Room (2003) – Written, produced, directed, and starring Tommy Wiseau, the low budget independent film is considered one of the worst films ever made, but through social media and interest from comedians, gained a large number of fans of movie while further becoming a popular source for memes based on some of the poorly delivered lines in the movie, such as "You're tearing me apart, Lisa!"[76][77]
  • Take This Lollipop (2011) is an interactive horror short film and Facebook app, written and directed by Jason Zada to personalize and underscore the dangers inherent in posting too much personal information about oneself on the Internet. Information gathered from a viewer's Facebook profile by the film's app, used once and then deleted, makes the film different for each viewer.[78][79][80]

Gaming

"The cake is a lie", based on the false promise of a Black Forest cake as a reward, is popularized from the video game series Portal.
Actor Kevin Bacon is the centerpiece of the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
  • "All your base are belong to us" – Badly translated English from the opening cutscene of the European Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version of the 1989 arcade game Zero Wing, which has become a catchphrase, inspiring videos and other derivative works.[81]
  • Flappy Bird - a free-to-play casual mobile 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.[82][83]
  • Giant Enemy Crab – The meme originated during the demonstration of Genji: Days of the Blade at the Sony E3 2006 press conference. The producer Bill Ritch claimed that Genji 2's epic battles were based on "famous battles which actually took place in ancient Japan." Almost immediately after this was spoken, the gameplay footage showed a boss battle against, in his own words, a "giant enemy crab." Popular memes originating from the Genji demonstration included the game features described such as "you attack its weak point for massive damage" and "real-time...weapon change," despite neither of these being at all new to video gaming, being staples of classic 1980s games such as Metroid. In IGN's E3 2006 wrap-up, they listed a number of Genji 2 quotes.[84]
  • Hoenn Confirmed - A saying rooted in the fact that Nintendo had made remakes of the first two generations of Pokémon games in a predictable timeline, then never did one for the third one, taking place in the Hoenn region. Fans would find extremely obscure clues in other media and call it evidence that Nintendo had finally gotten around to making the remake. Hoenn finally was confirmed on May 7, 2014, with the announcement of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire [85]
  • 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.[86]
  • "I Took An Arrow in the Knee" – Non-player characters in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim repeat 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 meme 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, and soon became overused and considered an annoyance; it was mentioned in an episode of NCIS.[87][88][89]
  • 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.[90]
  • Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.[91]
  • Luigi's Death Stare - Game footage from Mario Kart 8 typically showing Luigi taking out an opponent's kart or narrowly avoiding being knocked out himself, followed by Luigi giving his victim a death stare as he drives off.[92][93]
  • Portal/Portal 2 – The popular video games Portal and its sequel, both written with black humor undertones, introduced several Internet memes, including the phrase "the cake is a lie",[94] and the space-obsessed "Space Core" character.[95]
  • 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 limbs. 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.[96]
  • 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, 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.[97][98][99]
  • Surgeon Simulator 2013 – An absurd, unrealistic surgical simulation game with game play consisting of the player attempting to perform various surgical procedures, either in an operating room or an ambulance, using difficult controls similar to those of the game QWOP. Initially created by Bossa Studios in a 48-hour period for the 2013 Global Game Jam and released in January 2013, the game was further developed and later released as a full version via Steam in April 2013.[100][101]
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon - An "experiment" and channel created by an anonymous user on the Twitch live streaming video site in February 2014. Logged-in viewers to the channel can enter commands corresponding to the physical inputs used in the JRPG video game Pokémon Red into the chat window, which 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 and 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.[102][103]

Images

U.S. President Barack Obama jokingly mimics the "McKayla is not impressed" expression in the Oval Office, November 2012.
  • Ate my balls – An early example of an Internet meme. Created to depict a particular celebrity or fictional character eating testicles.[104]
  • Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures – A popular meme in the People's Republic of China regarding a series of mythical creatures, with names which referred to various Chinese profanities.[105][106] Seen as a form of protest against increased Internet censorship in China introduced in early 2009.[107][108]
  • Bert is Evil – A satirical website stated that Bert of Sesame Street is the root of many evils. A juxtaposition of Bert and Osama Bin Laden subsequently appeared in a real poster in a Bangladesh protest.[109][110]
  • Rosinés Chávez – In January 2012, Rosinés Chávez, the 14-year-old daughter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, posted a picture of herself on Instagram holding U.S. currency.[111][112] The Washington Post reported "In polarized Venezuela, where the president excoriates businessmen and calls capitalism a scourge on humanity, the photo touched off a controversy as critics went to social media sites to mock the first family."[113] Soon afterward, other people posted similar pictures of themselves holding cooking oil, coffee, sugar, and other staples which are sometimes hard to obtain in the country.[114]
  • "Children & Hallucinogens: The Future of Discipline" - A book purportedly published in the 1970s by Penguin Books was actually created for the British satire website Scarfolk. It prompted many people to contact the aforementioned publisher in search of available copies.[115]
  • Cigar guy – An October 2010 photograph of Tiger Woods at the 2010 Ryder cup included a costumed man with a wig and cigar, which spread widely and was photoshopped.[116]
  • 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.[117][118][119]
  • Eastwooding – After Clint Eastwood's speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, in which he spoke to an empty chair representing President Barack Obama, photos were posted by users on the Internet of people talking to empty chairs, with various captions referring to the chair as either Obama or Eastwood.[120][121][122]
  • Dog shaming – Originating on Tumblr, these images feature images of dogs photographed with signs explaining what antics they recently got up to.[123]
  • Doge - Images of dogs, typically of the Shiba Inus, overlaid with simple but poor grammatical expressions, typically in the Comic Sans MS font, though have since been applied to any picture as a form of commentary.[124]
  • 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 leads to a botched, amateur-ish, monkey-looking image, leading to several image-based memes.[125][126]
  • Goatse.cx – A shock image of a distended anus.[127]
  • 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 to star in a feature film.[128]
  • Heineken Looter Guy / Lootie – An Associated Press photo taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, under the caption, "A looter carries a bucket of beer out of a grocery store in New Orleans." The original photo shows a black man in waist-deep waters carrying a tub full of bottles of beer. This image and the man's face were incorporated into a parody of a Heineken magazine advertisement.[129][130] The image has since shown up in hundreds of photoshopped images across the web.
  • Islamic Rage Boy – A series of photos of Shakeel Bhat, a Muslim activist whose face became a personification of angry Islamism in the western media. The first photo dates back to his appearance in 2007 at a rally in Srinigar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. Several other photos in other media outlets followed, and by November 2007, there were over one million hits for "Islamic Rage Boy" on Google and his face appeared on boxer shorts and bumper stickers.[131][132]
  • Keep Calm and Carry On - a phrasal template or snowclone that was originally a motivational poster produced by the UK government in 1939 intended to raise public morale. It was rediscovered in 2000, became increasingly used during the 2009 global recession, and has spawned various parodies and imitations.[133][134]
  • Kermit Bale – An Internet meme[135] from the Livejournal gossip blog Oh No They Didn't in which the original poster constructed a detailed post pointing out the similarities between Kermit the Frog and actor Christian Bale.[136][137] In a mock interview with Netscape, Kermit "commented" on the phenomenon, saying: "I had absolutely no idea. But, now that I look at the Internet, there sure are a lot of similarities between us. Christian and I haven't met, but I'm really looking forward to talking to him about this. As for the rumors that we're related: well, it's pretty unlikely, but since I'm one of 2,353 brothers and sisters, anything is a possibility."[138]
  • Little Fatty – Starting in 2003, the face of Qian Zhijun, a student from Shanghai, was superimposed onto various other images.[139][140]
  • LOLcat – A collection of humorous image macros featuring cats with misspelled phrases, such as, "I Can Has Cheezburger?".[141] The earliest versions of LOLcats appeared on 4chan, usually on Saturdays, which were designated "Caturday", as a day to post photos of cats.[142]
  • McKayla is not impressed – A tumblr blog that went viral after taking an image of McKayla Maroney, the American gymnast who won the silver medal in the vault at the 2012 Summer Olympics, on the medal podium with a disappointed look on her face, and photoshopping it into various "impressive" places and situations, e.g. on top of the Great Wall of China and standing next to Usain Bolt.[143][144][145]
  • O RLY? – Originally a text phrase on Something Awful, and then an image macro done for 4chan. Based around a picture of a snowy owl.[146]
  • Oolong – Photos featured on a popular Japanese website of a rabbit that is famous for its ability to balance a variety of objects on its head.[147]
  • Ridiculously Photogenic Guy – A picture of one of the runners – later identified as Zeddie Little – during a local 2012 marathon in Charleston, South Carolina, was called out for how photogenic he looked, and later spread virally.[148]
  • The Saugeen Stripper – A female student at the University of Western Ontario performed a striptease at a birthday party and dozens of digital images of the party ended up on the Internet.[149]
  • "Seriously McDonalds" – A photograph apparently showing racist policies introduced by McDonald's. The photograph, which is a hoax, went viral, especially on Twitter, in June 2011.[150]
  • Allison Stokke – A high school track athlete whose 2006 photo of herself adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York made its way across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on MySpace. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.[151]
  • Tron GuyJay 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.[152]
  • Vancouver Riot Kiss – An image 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, actually were not kissing but Jones was consoling Thomas after being knocked down by a police charge.[153]

Music

Gary Brolsma, aka "The Numa Numa Guy"
Psy's "Gangnam Style" video has been the most-watched video on YouTube as of November 2012.
The band OK Go in their first viral video "Here It Goes Again".

Videos

  • 2 Girls 1 Cup – Videos of two girls engaging in coprophilia.[219] This video has also originated a series of amateur videos showing the reactions of people seeing the original video.
  • Angry German Kid/Keyboard Crasher – A video of a German teenage boy getting so frustrated in playing an online video game that he begins ranting at the screen and smashing his keyboard. Though later shown to be staged, numerous parodies of the video were made, with made-up translations from the initial ranting, and became popular in Japan under the name "Keyboard Crasher".[220][221]
  • Anime Music Videos/MADs – A staple of anime conventions both in Japan and Western countries, these fan-made videos take footage from various anime works and re-edit them in different order, addition of new soundtracks (including to full-length songs), and other manipulations such as lip-syncing characters to lyrics; with the propagation of the Internet and popularity of anime in the United States in 2003, this type of user-created content flourished, and grew to include footage from other works including video games and Western animated shows.[222][223]
  • The Annoying Orange – A series of comedy sketches featuring a talking orange annoying other fruits and vegetables, as well as some appliances, with his one-liners and puns.[224]
  • "Arrest of Vladimir Putin" – A viral video showing mock arrest of Vladimir Putin and his trial.[225][226]
  • Ask a Ninja – Popular podcast featuring a ninja who answers viewers' questions.[157]
  • Auto-tune the News/Songify This – a web series by the Gregory Brothers of news videos auto-tuned and remixed into songs. The group achieved mainstream success with their "Bed Intruder Song" video, which became the most watched YouTube video of 2010 and a Billboard Hot 100 hit.[227]
  • Benny Lava – A video created as a soramimi to Kalluri Vaanil by Indian dancer Prabhu Deva.[228]
  • Boom goes the dynamite – Brian Collins, a nervous sports anchor, fumbles highlights, concluding with this infamous catchphrase.[157][229] It's become commonly used in many things, including an episode of Family Guy and being quoted by Will Smith when he flubbed a line on stage during the 81st Academy Awards telecast. As of March 2009, Collins was a reporter for KXXV in Waco, Texas.
  • Charlie Bit My Finger – It features two young brothers; the younger bites the finger of the older brother.[230][231]
  • Charlie Chaplin Time Travel Video – A YouTube video posted in October 2010 by Irish filmmaker George Clarke in which he suggested that additional footage contained in a DVD release of the Charlie Chaplin film The Circus depicted a time traveler talking on a cell phone received millions of hits and became the subject of widespread Internet discussion.[232]
  • The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger – A YouTube video posted by the user Randall in 2011 featuring a comedic narration dubbed over pre-existing National Geographic footage.[233]
  • Dancing Matt – Video game designer Matt Harding became famous in 2003 when he filmed himself dancing in front of various world landmarks. Eventually, a chewing gum company sent him off to dance on seven continents, and by October 2006, five million viewers have seen his videos.[234][235] Harding compiled two similar videos in 2008[236] and 2012.[237]
  • Diet Coke and Mentos – Geysers of carbonated drink mixed with Mentos.[157][238]
  • Don't Tase Me, Bro! – An incident at a campus talk by Senator John Kerry where a student yelled his now-infamous phrase while being restrained by police.[239]
  • Double Rainbow – a video posted to YouTube by Paul Vasquez of him filming a rainbow with a secondary one at Yosemite National Park. Vasquez's amazed and overwhelmed response includes philosophical questions about the rainbows, such as "what do they mean?". Subsequently, the video went viral, and an auto-tuned remix named the "Double Rainbow Song" using the video's audio track was later released by the Gregory Brothers, receiving more than 30 million views and becoming another meme.[240][241]
  • Downfall Parodies – A series of videos featuring a scene of Adolf Hitler (portrayed in this film by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz) ranting in German, from the 2004 film Downfall. The original English subtitles have been removed and mock subtitles added to give the appearance that Hitler is ranting about modern, often trivial topics, reviews, just the audio and without the actual image of Hitler doing something and sometimes even breaking the fourth wall. While the clips are frequently removed for copyright violations, the film's director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, has stated that he enjoys them, and claims to have seen about 145 of them.[242][243] By 2010, there were thousands of such parodies, including many in which a self-aware Hitler is incensed that people keep making Downfall parodies.
  • Dramatic Chipmunk – A video featuring a prairie dog (almost always inaccurately called a chipmunk in the video title) turning its head suddenly toward the camera, with a zoom-in on its face while suspense music is playing.[157]
  • Edgar's fall – A video in which a Mexican boy tries to cross a river over a branch, which gets thrown in by his cousin.[244][245]
  • eHarmony Video Bio – Video of a woman calling herself "Debbie" in an online dating video who ends up getting very emotional over her affection for cats. The video, which received over 3 million hits on YouTube between 3 and 12 June 2011, was later attributed to Cara Hartmann, a 23-year-old entertainer and a resident of the United States.[246]
  • Epic Beard Man – Video of a bus fight in Oakland, California in which 67-year-old Thomas Bruso physically defends himself against an African-American man after being accused of racial prejudice then punched by him.[247] Within a week of the video's posting on YouTube, there were over 700,000 hits.[248]
  • Evolution of Dance – A video of a six-minute live performance of motivational speaker Judson Laipply's routine consisting of several recognizable dance movies to respective songs. The video was one of the earliest examples of a viral video posted on YouTube, having received 23 million hits within 2 weeks of posting in mid-2006, and was marked as an example of low budget, user-generated content achieving broadcast television-sized audiences.[249][250]
  • Fenton – Video of a dog chasing deer in Richmond Park, London, and its owner's attempts to call it off. The video was taken by the owner's 13-year-old son and gained over 800,000 hits on YouTube in November 2011.[251]
  • Fred Figglehorn – Video series featuring a fictional six-year-old named Fred with "anger-management issues", who lives with his alcoholic mother and whose father is doing jail time. Fred is portrayed by 18-year-old actor Lucas Cruikshank, and his YouTube channel had over 250,000 subscribers and was the fourth most subscribed channel in 2008.[252]
  • Gallon smashing is the act of smashing a gallon of liquid in a manner that appears to be accidental. The prank often involves throwing a gallon of milk onto a grocery store aisle, then falling and sometimes having difficulty returning to a standing position.[253]
Two screenshots from before and after the drop in a Harlem Shake video.
An example of the anime-style moe images of Natalia Poklonskaya following her press conference
  • "Let's Play" videos – A format popularized by the website Something Awful, "Let's Play" feature a video game player playing through a game using video capturing devices and providing ongoing humorous commentary as they play. Such videos have expanded via the introduction of YouTube and streaming video sites, and have been seen as promotional for the games that are played. The format been proven highly successful for some people, such as Felix Kjellberg (known as PewDiePie) who has over 28 million YouTube subscribers and earning more than $4 million from ad revenue sharing in 2013.[275][276][275]
  • lonelygirl15 – A popular viral video spread via YouTube featuring a teenage girl named "Bree", who would post video updates about a variety of issues dealing with the life of a typical teenager. It was later found to be a professionally made, fictional work, produced by Mesh Flinders in Beverly Hills and starring Jessica Lee Rose.[277]
  • Maru the cat – A running series of videos of a Scottish Fold cat taken by his Japanese owner that has a propensity to dive or jump into and out of boxes.[278][279]
  • Mélissa Theuriau – A French journalist and news anchor for M6. She became an Internet phenomenon after a compilation video, entitled "Beautiful News Reporter",[280] was posted online. She was voted by Maxim readers as "TV's sexiest news anchor" in 2007.[281]
  • Michelle Jenneke – "michelle jenneke dancing sexy as hell at junior world championships in Barcelona 2012" is a video of 19-year-old hurdler Michelle Jenneke during her pre-race warm-up at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona. The video of Jenneke dancing pre-race was uploaded on 25 July on YouTube and had more than 13 million views in less than a week. The video made Jenneke an instant online celebrity.[282]
Amber Lee Ettinger, a.k.a. "Obama Girl"
  • Music Is My Hot Hot Sex – Used in advertising, then reached the top of YouTube's most watched list, due perhaps to a hack.[283][284]
  • Nek Minnit – A 10-second YouTube video from New Zealand featuring skater Levi Hawkin.[285] This video inspired the term Nek Minnit, which is used at the end of a sentence in place of the words Next Minute. The video has received over two million views and has been parodied several times on YouTube; the TV3 show The Jono Project ran a series of clips titled Food in a Nek Minnit which parodied a nightly advertisement called Food in a Minute. As a result of the video, the term Nek Minnit was the most searched for word on Google in New Zealand for 2011.[286]
  • Natalia Poklonskaya – Shortly after Natalia Poklonskaya was appointed Prosecutor General of the Republic of Crimea a video of Poklonskaya during a press conference went viral on YouTube and spawned an onslaught of anime-style fanart dedicated to her which garnered international media attention.[287][288]
  • Obama Girl – A series of videos on YouTube featuring Amber Lee Ettinger that circulated during the 2008 US presidential election, starting with her singing, "I Got a Crush... on Obama". It caught the attention of bloggers, mainstream media, and other candidates, and achieved 12.5 million views on YouTube by 1 January 2009.[289]
  • Old Gregg - A compilation video of clips featuring the character Old Gregg from the English surreal comedy series The Mighty Boosh, starring Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt.[290][291]
  • Potter Puppet Pals – a live action puppet show web series created by Neil Cicierega parodying the Harry Potter novel/film series by J. K. Rowling. The "The Mysterious Ticking Noise" video in the series has received more than 77 (135 million as of 2012) views, making it the most famous video of the series.[292]
  • Puppy-throwing Marine viral video – A video from March 2008 of a US Marine on patrol in Iraq throwing a puppy off of a cliff. The video sparked outrage from numerous animal rights groups and was later removed from YouTube. The Marine was later identified as Lance Corporal David Motari, who was removed from the Marine Corps and received a non-judicial punishment. His accomplice, Sergeant Crismarvin Banez Encarnacion, received a non-judicial punishment as well.[293][294]
  • Ray William Johnson - YouTube celebrity known for providing commentary on other viral videos.[295]
A Rick Astley impersonator rickrolling a basketball game
  • Rickrolling – A phenomenon involving posting a URL in an Internet forum that appears to be relevant to the topic at hand, but is, in fact, a link to a video of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up". The practice originated on 4chan as a "Duckroll", in which an image of a duck on wheels was what was linked to. The practice of Rickrolling became popular after April Fools' Day in 2008 when YouTube rigged every feature video on its home page to Rick Astley's song.[296][297]
  • Shreds – A series of mock videos, initially created by Santeri Ojala a.k.a. StSanders. The original videos show footage of famous rock guitarists and/or bands in their "shredding" moments, but feature Ojala's own purposely warped, yet precisely synchronized, guitar playing in place of the original audio.[298][299]
  • Star Wars Kid – A Québécois teenager became known as the "Star Wars Kid" after a video appeared on the Internet showing him swinging a golf ball retriever as if it were a lightsaber. Many parodies of the video were also made and circulated.[157][300]
  • Supercuts – Videos consisting of numerous clips from movies and television typically highlighting the reuse of a common phrase or trope within each clip. Such can be specific to a show (such as highlighting every swear stated in the film The Big Lebowski), an oft-quoted line (numerous reality television show contestants saying they're not played to make friends) or as non-verbal critique of a specific medium (reuse of similar dialog lines throughout shows created by Aaron Sorkin).[301][302]
  • "This is my story" – A two-part video of 18-year-old American Internet personality Ben Breedlove, explaining about his heart condition, using note cards as a visual aid. The YouTube video was released on 18 December 2011, a week prior to Breedlove's death, and received world-wide attention.[303]
  • Tourettes Guy – A series of videos featuring an apparent Tourette's syndrome sufferer by the name of "Danny" and several events in his daily life, including many interactions with his son, who always remains behind the camera. In 2007, it was reported that Danny had died; however, a video released of him in 2008 disproved this.[304]
  • Twin Baby Boys Having a Conversation – A video of 17-month-old twin boys, Sam and Ren, having a "conversation" in their own special "language" was posted to YouTube by their mother and viewed by thousands of people in the next 24 hours.[305][306]
  • "Ty kto takoy? Davay, do svidaniya!" ("Who are you? Come on, goodbye!" in Russian) – A video of Azerbaijani meykhana performers, that gained over 2 million views on YouTube.[307] The jingle "Ty kto takoy? Davay, do svidaniya!" started trending on Twitter with the Russian hashtag #путинтыктотакойдавайдосвидания[308] and a number of songs sampled the jingle since then.
  • Tyson – Videos featuring a skateboarding bulldog.[309]
  • UFO Phil – A series of music videos and short films featuring cult celebrity UFO Phil, whose real name is Phil Hill. Phil is an American novelty songwriter most notable for appearing with George Noory on the radio program Coast to Coast AM.[310][311]
  • Very erotic very violent – An Internet catchphrase in the People's Republic of China, after a report by Xinwen Lianbo, the most viewed of China's state-sponsored news programs, where a young girl was reported to have come across content on the Internet which was "very erotic, very violent". This incident sparked wide forms of parody on the Internet, and also questioned the credibility of the state broadcaster's newscasts.[312][313][314]
YouTube musicians from Lisa Lavie's online collaboration video "We Are the World 25 for Haiti (YouTube Edition)" met on the same stage for a live reunion performance ten months later in Washington, D.C.[315][316]
  • "We Are the World 25 for Haiti (YouTube Edition)" is a massively collaborative crowdsourced charity video, involving 57 geographically distributed unsigned or independent contributors, that was produced by Canadian singer-songwriter and YouTube personality Lisa Lavie to raise money for victims of 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake.[317] The video received repeated coverage on CNN,[317] and the video's participants were collectively named ABC News "Persons of the Week" on U.S. national television by television journalist Diane Sawyer in March 2010.[318]
  • What What (In the Butt) – A viral music video set to a song about anal sex by gay recording artist Samwell. The video was posted on Valentine's Day 2007, and two weeks later had already been viewed 500,000 times.[319] It was subsequently parodied on the South Park episode, "Canada on Strike", which poked fun at several other Internet memes and personalities.
  • Wii Fit Girl – A video entitled "Why every guy should buy their girlfriend a Wii Fit" showing 25-year-old Lauren Bernat hula hooping with the fitness video game in only her T-shirt and panties. The video was viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube by September 2010, and was suspected as being a viral marketing plot because both Bernat, and her boyfriend Giovanny Gutierrez, who filmed the footage, work in advertising. Nintendo has since denied the claim that it was a marketing plot.[320][321]
  • Winnebago Man – A series of profane video outtakes first circulated underground on VHS tape before YouTube videos turned them into an online sensation. The reclusive Rebney is the subject of a feature film, Winnebago Man.[322][323]
  • 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.[324][325]
  • YouTube Poop – Video mashups in which users deconstruct and piece together video for psychedelic or absurdist effect.[326]
  • Zangief Kid (a.k.a. "Little Zangief") – A video clip first seen on YouTube depicting a fight in school between two students, which begins with the smaller pupil punching the taller sixteen-year-old boy Casey Heynes, who in turn retaliates by lifting the boy upside down and slamming him on the ground. Casey has been nicknamed "The Zangief Kid" by many Internet users as the grappling move used closely resembles the Spinning Piledriver, the signature special move of the character Zangief from the Street Fighter video game series.[327]

Other phenomena

  • Chuck Norris factssatirical factoids about martial artist and actor Chuck Norris that became popular culture after spreading through the Internet.[328]
  • Creepypastaurban legends or scary stories circulating on the Internet, many times revolving around specific videos, pictures or video games.[329] 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.
  • 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, and for some premium panels that were cancelled, the attendees were offered an extra hour in the ball pit as compension. The implosion and absurdity of aspects like the ball pit quickly spread through social media.[330]
  • Dogecoin - A form of cryptocurrency created as a parody of Bitcoins, after the popularity of the Doge meme, it has since become a currency of actual value, with an estimated total of $65 million in circulation and used for legitimate real-world purchases.[331]
  • Figwit (abbreviated from "Frodo is great...who is that?") – a background elf character with only seconds of screen time and one line of dialog from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy played by Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie, which became a fascination with a large number of fans. This ultimately led to McKenzie being brought back to play an elf in The Hobbit.[332][333][334]
  • Freecycling – The exchange of unwanted goods via the Internet.[335]
  • 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.[336][337]
  • I am lonely will anyone speak to me – A thread created on MovieCodec.com's forums, which has been described as the "Web's Top Hangout for Lonely Folk" by Wired magazine.[338]
  • Illegal flower tribute – when Google China began considering withdrawing from the country because of disputes with the government over censorship and the Chinese government's intrusion into their computer systems, supporters of Google from around Beijing laid flowers at the company's headquarters in Zhongguancun. The flowers donated by previous visitors were promptly removed by the security guards, one of whom said that people needed to apply for government permits in order not to make an "illegal flower tribute".[339][340]
The paperclip that Kyle MacDonald traded for a house
  • Jeff the Killer- Jeff is depicted as a serial killer who stabs people to death in their beds.[341] He is the main character in a well-known creepypasta, appears as an internet meme with the caption "go to sleep" and was the inspiration of an independent game and several gaming mods.[342] The origin of the "go to sleep" meme is unknown, although 4chan and promotional material for Saw V have both been suggested as the original source.[343]
  • Miss Me Yet? – inspired a series of themed merchandise from online agencies such as CafePress.[344]
  • 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.[345]
  • Rules of the Internet – An informal body of observed "laws" gathered over time that typically apply to discussions and forums on the Internet that project the type of behavior and content that can be expected. Such rules include Godwin's law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1"; Poe's law: "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing", and Rule 34: "If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions."[346][347][348]
  • Slender Man or Slenderman is 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.[73][75] Slender Man was later adapted into a video game in 2012 and became more widely known.
  • The Rake- A humanoid Creepypasta cryptid that is depicted as infrequently stalking people, sometimes appearing at the foot of the victims bed, and has been known to mutilate and abduct children. The Rake originated as a Creepypasta created by an anonymous poster on 4chan's /b/ imageboard in late 2005.[349] The Rake has appeared in many hoax videos and YouTube videos.[350] It is often depicted as existing within the same canon as the Slender Man due to its inclusion in EverymanHYBRID, one of the most well known and popular Slender Man ARGs.
  • Three Wolf Moon – A t-shirt with many ironic reviews on Amazon.[351]
  • 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.[352][353]

See also

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