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List of Internet phenomena

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For people who have achieved fame through the Internet, see Internet celebrity.

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

Advertising and products

Animation and comics

A group of Polandball characters
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.[29][30][31]
  • Arthur – A 1996 PBS educational series that became popular on the Internet on July 2016 through humorous stills.[32][33]
  • 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.[34][35][36]
  • 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.[37][38][39]
  • 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.[40]
  • 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 worldwide commercials, editorials about Character Studio, and the popular television series Ally McBeal.[41]
  • Happy Tree Friends – A series of Flash cartoons featuring cute cartoon animals experiencing violent and gruesome accidents.[42]
  • 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.[43]
  • Joe Cartoon – Creator of interactive Flash animations Frog in a Blender[44] and Gerbil in a Microwave,[45][46] which were two of the first Flash cartoons to receive fame on the Internet.[47]
  • Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin) – a looped Flash animation of an anime girl Orihime Inoue from the Bleach series twirling a leek, set to a scat singing section of the traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka," sung by the Finnish quartet Loituma on their 1995 debut album Things of Beauty.[48] The band's popularity rose tremendously[49] after the animation was posted in Russian LiveJournal in 2006. The song clip soon enjoyed overwhelming popularity as a ringtone, with most of the young urban population aware of the "Yak zup zop" lyrics.[50]
  • 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.[51][52]
  • Nyan Cat – A YouTube video of an animated flying cat, set to a Utau song.[53]
  • Polandball – A user-generated Internet meme which originated on the /int/ board of German imageboard Krautchan.net in the latter half of 2009. The meme is manifested in a large number of online comics, where countries are presented as spherical personas that interact in often broken English, poking fun at national stereotypes and international relations, as well as historical conflicts.[54]
  • Pusheen - An animated grey tabby cat, originally drawn as a character in the webcomic "Everyday Cute" by artists Clare Belton and Andrew Duff.[55] Belton has since released a Pusheen book.[56]
  • 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.[57] 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.[58]
  • Simpsonwave – A genre of videos where clips of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons are filtered with tinted, VHS-like effects and played over psychedelic vaporwave or chillwave tracks.[59]
  • SpongeBob SquarePants – A 1999 Nickelodeon animated television series that has spawned various Internet memes. These memes include "Surprised Patrick",[60] "Mr. Krabs Blur",[61] "Primitive SpongeBob",[62] and "Handsome Squidward".[60]
  • 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."[63]
  • 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.[64]
  • xkcd – A webcomic created by Randall Munroe, popularized on the Internet due to a high level of math-, science- and geek-related humor,[65] with certain jokes being reflected in real-life, such as using Wikipedia's "[citation needed]" tag on real world signs[66] or the addition of an audio preview for YouTube comments.[67]

Challenges

A person taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
A hand after performing the Salt and ice challenge

These generally feature Internet users recording themselves taking a challenge and then distributing the resulting video through social media sites, often inspiring or daring other users to repeat the challenge.

  • Banana Sprite challenge – a challenge to quickly eat two bananas and drink one can of Sprite[68] without vomiting. There are other versions of the challenge, but the suggested premise is that the body cannot digest both substances at the same time.[69]
  • Book bucket challenge – a variant of so-called Ice Bucket Challenge with an Indian origin. It went viral on social media during August–September 2014.[70][71] The original Ice Bucket Challenge involved participants pouring a bucket of ice over their head or donating money to the ALS Association. The Book Bucket Challenge involves people to share the names of 10 books that inspired them on their social networking pages or donating books to the needy and sharing those photos with friends in social networking sites.
  • Charlie Charlie Challenge – A ouija-emulating ritual in which the spirit of a fictitious Mexican demon named "Charlie" is invoked via two pencils in the shape of a cross and the words "yes" and "no" written on paper in a square. Social media users began circulating videos of pencils moving to the word "yes" when asking if the demon is present.[72]
  • Cinnamon challenge – a viral Internet food challenge. The objective of the challenge is to film oneself swallowing a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything,[73] then upload the video to the Internet.[74][75][76] The challenge is difficult and carries substantial health risks because the cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, resulting in coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and risk of pneumonia[73] or a collapsed lung.[77]
  • Condom challenge – a viral Internet challenge. The challenge involves inserting a latex condom into the nostril and snorting it into the nasal cavity and back through the throat to be coughed out of the mouth. The term "condom challenge" was coined in May 2012 following the widespread popularity of the cinnamon challenge, but the idea is several years old and videos of challenge attempts date to at least 2007.[78] The challenge went viral in April 2013, when WorldStarHipHop posted a video of two young women attempting the challenge, and several people subsequently uploaded videos onto the Internet of themselves attempting the challenge.The stunt poses potential choking hazards.[79]
  • Fire challenge – an activity which refers to the application of flammable liquids to one's body and then setting the liquids aflame, while being video recorded. The aftermath is then posted to social media sites.[80][81][82][82][83] Firefighters, police officers and media sources have chastised and spoken out against the activity, hoping to dissuade individuals from trying it due to its harmful nature.[84][85][86]
  • Food challenge – examples include the gallon challenge or the Saltine cracker challenge, are specific challenges or competitions involving food. These may occur as part of competitive eating or as an online challenge.[87] For example, the dare of the cinnamon challenge meme is to attempt to eat a specified amount of ground cinnamon within a minute and then also post the video online, like a chain letter.
  • Food stamp or SNAP challenge – a trend in the United States popularized by religious groups, community activists and food pantries, in which a family of means chooses to purchase food using only the monetary equivalent of what a family that size would receive in the US federal government Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), colloquially called food stamps.[88] In 2015, this amounted to US$194.00 per person per month, or nearly $7.00 per day.[89][90]
  • Gallon smashing - A challenge which surfaced on YouTube in 2013, Gallon smashing involves obtaining bottles of liquid in a supermarket (usually cow's milk or water) and then throwing them against the floor and spilling their contents. The participant may attempt to damage other objects as they throw the bottles, or fall into the resultant spill and seek the assistance of customers to help them up. Participants of this challenge have often suffered injuries and frequently face punishment from legal authorities, including the two teenagers who originally started the phenomenon.[91][92]
  • Ice Bucket Challenge – A charity-driven effort where a person "tags" three other people over social media, challenging them either to donate $100 to the ALS Association, or to otherwise douse themselves with a bucket of ice-cold water while filming themselves as well as making a smaller donation and tagging three others with the same challenge. As the challenge propagated, it tagged various celebrities and people with large numbers of social followers, causing the challenge to grow in a viral manner.[93]
  • Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge – Based on trying to recreate the puffy lips of television star Kylie Jenner, Internet users show themselves using a small vessel like a shotglass that covers their lips, drawing all the air out of the vessel, and then releasing, which temporarily puffs the lips by drawing the user's blood into them. The activity is considered harmful, both from bruising and dis-figuration of the lips, and the potential for the vessel to shatter and cut the person.[94][95]
  • Mannequin Challenge - a viral Internet video trend that started in October 2016 where people remain still while a video is recorded, usually with music in the background and became popular with sports teams and athletes.[96]
  • Running Man Challenge – A series of dance videos originally created by Hillside, New Jersey high school students Kevin Vincent and Jeremiah Hall on Instagram that uses the song "My Boo" by Ghost Town DJ's.[97][98]
  • Salt and ice challenge – Internet phenomenon wherein participants pour salt on their bodies, usually on the arm and ice is then placed on the salt.[99][100] This causes a "burning" sensation, and participants vie to withstand the pain for the longest time. The challenge is recorded and posted on YouTube or other forms of social media.[100][101][102]

Dance

Two screenshots from before and after the drop in a Harlem Shake video

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.[116][117]
  • 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.[118]
  • 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.[119][120]
  • 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.[121] 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.[122] The Navy has a page specifically devoted to pointing out that many of the ships named weren't even in service at the time.[123]
  • 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.[124] 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.[125]
  • 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.[126][127]
  • 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.[128]

Film

  • Bee Movie (2007) – Sped-up or slowed-down clips of the film have become viral on YouTube.[129][130] One upload by "Avoid at All Costs" exceeded 12 million views as of December 2016.[131]
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999) – The film's producers used Internet marketing to create the impression that the documentary-style horror film featured real, as opposed to fictional, events.[132]
  • Cloverfield (2008) – Paramount Pictures used a viral marketing campaign to promote this monster movie.[133]
  • Downfall (2004) – A film depicting Adolf Hitler (portrayed in this film by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz) during his final days of his life. The scene where Hitler ranted in German has been parodied innumerable times on the Internet. 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.[134][135]
  • 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.[136][137][138]
  • 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.[139][140][141]
  • Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009) – 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.[142]
  • Re-cut trailer – 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.[143][144][145]
  • Sharknado (2013) – A made-for-television film produced by The Asylum and aired on the SyFy network as a mockbuster of other disaster films, centered on the appearance of a tornado filled with sharks in downtown Los Angeles. Though similar to other films from the Asylum, the combination of elements within the film, such as low-budget specific effects and choice of actors, led to the film becoming a social media hit and leading to at least three additional sequels.[146]
  • Shrek – A DreamWorks franchise that had an internet fandom who ironically liked the series.[147] The viral video, "Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life", was based off a story on 4chan.[148][149]
  • Snakes on a Plane (2006) – 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.[150]
  • 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 ironic fans 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!"[151][152]
  • 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.[153][154][155]

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 Mega Drive version of the 1989 arcade game Zero Wing, which has become a catchphrase, inspiring videos and other derivative works.[156]
  • 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.[157][158]
  • 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.[159]
  • "I Took An Arrow in the Knee" – City guards 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.[160][161][162]
  • 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.[163]
  • Let's Play – Videos created by video game players that add their commentary and typically humorous reactions atop them playing through a video game. These videos have created a number of Internet celebrities who have made significant money through ad revenue sharing, such as PewDiePie who has earned over $12 million from his videos in 2015.[164][165]
  • Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.[166]
  • 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",[167] and the space-obsessed "Space Core" character.[168]
  • 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.[169]
  • 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.[170][171][172]
  • 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.[173][174]
  • 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.[175][176]

Images

U.S. President Barack Obama jokingly mimics the "McKayla is not impressed" expression in the Oval Office, November 2012.
  • Baby mugging and Baby suitingMommyShorts blogger Ilana Wiles began posting pictures of babies in mugs, and later adult business suits, both of which led to numerous others doing the same.[177][178][179]
  • 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.[180][181]
  • Blue waffle – An Internet hoax originating in 2010 purporting an unknown sexually transmitted disease affecting only women, causing severe infection and blue discoloration to the vagina. The disease has been confirmed as false.[182][183]
  • #BreakTheInternet – The November 2015 issue of Paper included a cover image of Kim Kardashian in a partially nude pose, exposing her buttocks, taken by photographer Jean-Paul Goude, with the caption "#breaktheinternet", as the magazine desired to set a record in social media response from it. Several other photos from the shot were also released, including one that mimicked one that Goude took for his book Jungle Fever involving a "campaign incident". Paper's campaign set a record for hits for their site, and the photographs became part of Internet memes.[184][185]
  • 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.[186][187][188]
  • Dat Boi – An animated GIF of a unicycling frog associated with the text "here come dat boi!" that began on Tumblr in 2015 before gaining popularity on Twitter in 2016.[189][190][191][192]
  • Dog shaming – Originating on Tumblr, these images feature images of dogs photographed with signs explaining what antics they recently got up to.[193]
  • 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.[194] The meme has also spawned Dogecoin[195] and Doge Weather.[196]
  • The Dress – An image of a dress posted to Tumblr that, due to how the photograph was taken, created an optical illusion where the dress would either appear white and gold, or blue and black. Within 48 hours, the post gained over 400,000 notes and was later featured on many different websites.[197][198]
  • 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 led to a botched, amateurish, monkey-looking image, leading to several image-based memes.[199][200]
  • Goatse.cx – A shock image of a distended anus.[201]
  • 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.[202]
  • 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.[203]
  • 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.[204][205]
  • Little Fatty – Starting in 2003, the face of Qian Zhijun, a student from Shanghai, was superimposed onto various other images.[206][207]
  • Lolcat – A collection of humorous image macros featuring cats with misspelled phrases, such as, "I Can Has Cheezburger?".[208] The earliest versions of LOLcats appeared on 4chan, usually on Saturdays, which were designated "Caturday", as a day to post photos of cats.[209]
  • 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.[210][211][212]
  • Nimoy Sunset Pie – A tumblr blog that posted mashups combining American actor Leonard Nimoy, sunsets, and pie.[213][214][215][216][217][218]
  • 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.[219]
  • 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.[220]
  • Pepe the Frog – A cartoon frog character from a 2006 web cartoon became widely used on 4chan in 2008, often with the phrase "feels good man".[221][222][223][224][225] In 2015, the New Zealand government accepted proposals for a new national flag and a flag with Pepe was submitted.[226][227][228]
  • "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.[229]
  • Success Kid – An image of a baby who is clenching his fist while featuring a determined look on his face.[230]
  • 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.[231]
  • 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.[232]

Music

Politics

Amber Lee Ettinger, a.k.a. "Obama Girl"

Videos

Main article: List of viral videos

Other phenomena

The paperclip that Kyle MacDonald converted into a house, after 14 trade-ups
  • Cats on the Internet – images of cats are very popular on the Internet, and have seen extensive use in Internet memes, as well as some cats becoming Internet celebrities.
  • Chuck Norris factssatirical factoids about martial artist and actor Chuck Norris that became popular culture after spreading through the Internet.[257]
  • Creepypastaurban legends or scary stories circulating on the Internet, many times revolving around specific videos, pictures or video games.[258] 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 compensation. The implosion and absurdity of aspects like the ball pit quickly spread through social media.[259]
  • Dicks out for Harambe – A slogan that was popularized months after the death of Harambe the Gorilla, which ironically told individuals to expose their penises in public in honor of the gorilla. The line was notablly uttered by actor Danny Trejo.[260][261]
  • Freecycling – The exchange of unwanted goods via the Internet.[262]
  • 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.[263][264]
  • 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.[265]
  • Netflix and chill – An English language slang term using an invitation to watch Netflix together as a euphemism for sex, either between partners or casually as a booty call. The phrase has been popularized through the Internet.[266][267]
  • 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.[268]
  • SCP Foundation is a creative writing website that contains thousands of fictitious containment procedures for paranormal objects captured by the in-universe SCP Foundation, a secret organization tasked with securing and documenting objects that violate natural law.[269][270] The website has inspired numerous spin-off works, including a stage play and video games such as SCP – Containment Breach.[270][271]
  • 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.[139][141] Slender Man was later adapted into a video game in 2012 and became more widely known.
  • Three Wolf Moon – A t-shirt with many ironic reviews on Amazon.[272]
  • Throwback Thursday The trend of posting older, nostalgic photos on Thursdays under the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday or #TBT.
  • 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.[273][274]
  • YouTube Poop – Video mashups in which users deconstruct and piece together video for psychedelic or absurdist effect.[275]

See also

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