Elf Yourself (2006) and its related Scrooge Yourself (2007) are both interactivewebsites created by Jason Zada and Evolution Bureau for OfficeMax's holiday seasonadvertising campaign. Elf Yourself allows visitors to upload images of themselves or their friends, see them as dancing elves, and includes options to post the created video to other sites or save it as a personalized mini-film. According to ClickZ, visiting the Elf Yourself site "has become an annual tradition that people look forward to". While not selling any one specific product, the two were created to raise consumer awareness of the sponsoring firm.
FreeCreditReport.com – A series of TV commercials that were posted on the Internet; many spoofs of the commercials were made and posted on YouTube.
HeadOn – A June 2006 advertisement for a homeopathic product claimed to relieve headaches. Ads featured the tagline, "HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead", stated three times in succession, accompanied by a video of a model using the product without ever directly stating the product's purpose. The ads were successively parodied on sites such as YouTube and rapperLil Jon even made fun of it.
"Nope, Chuck Testa" – A local commercial made for Ojai Valley Taxidermy, owned by Chuck Testa, suggesting that the stuffed creatures were alive until Testa appeared, saying "Nope, Chuck Testa!"; the ad soon went viral.
Will It Blend? – The blender product Blendtec, claimed by its creator Tom Dickson to be the most powerful blender, is featured in a series of YouTube videos, "Will It Blend?" where numerous food and non-food items are used within the blender.
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.
Animation and comics
A group of Polandball characters
The adult brony fans of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic grew from its 4chan roots.
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.
Arthur – A 1996 PBS educational series that became popular on the Internet on July 2016 through humorous stills.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Pusheen – An animated grey tabby cat, originally drawn as a character in the webcomic "Everyday Cute" by artists Clare Belton and Andrew Duff. Belton has since released a Pusheen book.
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. 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.
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.
xkcd – A webcomic created by Randall Munroe, popularized on the Internet due to a high level of math-, science- and geek-related humor, with certain jokes being reflected in real-life, such as using Wikipedia's "" tag on real world signs or the addition of an audio preview for YouTube comments.
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.
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.
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, then upload the video to the Internet. 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 or a collapsed lung.
Condom challenge – a viralInternetchallenge. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Harlem Shake – A video based on Harlem shake dance, originally created by YouTube personality Filthy Frank and using an electronica version of the song by Baauer. In such videos, one person is dancing or acting strange among a room full of others going about routine business, until after the drop and a video cut, everyone starts dancing or acting strangely. The attempts to recreate the dance has led to a viral spread on YouTube.
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.
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.
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. 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. The Navy has a page specifically devoted to pointing out that many of the ships named weren't even in service at the time.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
LazyTown (2004) – a children's television programme originating from Iceland, which became very popular after one of the primary actors Stefan Karl was diagnosed with cancer and set up a GoFundMe page to support him. The song We are Number One became a meme in October 2016, and many videos were created. It became one of the fastest memes in history, with 250 videos uploaded in 5 days.
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.
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.
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.
Shrek – A DreamWorks franchise that had an internet fandom who ironically liked the series. The viral video, "Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life", was based on a homoerotic story on 4chan depicting the titular ogre engaging in anal sex with a (presumably young) boy.
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.
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!"
Flappy Bird – a free-to-playcasualmobile 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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.
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", and the space-obsessed "Space Core" character.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Baby mugging and Baby suiting – MommyShorts 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.
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.
#BreakTheInternet – The November 2014 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Success Kid – An image of a baby who is clenching his fist while featuring a determined look on his face.
Trash Doves – A sticker set of a purple bird for iOS, Facebook messenger, Facebook comments, and other messaging apps created by Syd Weiler. The animated headbanging pigeon from the sticker set started to went viral in Thailand and it became globally viral on social media.
Tron Guy – Jay 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.
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.
Delete your account – A phrase used on Twitter that is used criticize the opinions of opponents. On June 9, 2016, Hillary Clinton tweeted this phrase towards Donald Trump. Afterwards, the tweet has become her most retweeted tweet of all time.
Creepypasta – urban legends or scary stories circulating on the Internet, many times revolving around specific videos, pictures or video games. 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.
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.
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.
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. The website has inspired numerous spin-off works, including a stage play and video games such as SCP – Containment Breach.
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. Slender Man was later adapted into a video game in 2012 and became more widely known.
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.