young man sitting in chair in spotlight

Neon Genesis Evangelion/Netflix

Origins of the Shinji chair meme

A deep look into the internet sensation birthed from ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion.’

 

Mike Hadge

Memes

The Shinji Chair meme, or Shinji in a Chair is a meme originating from the anime television series Neon Genesis Evangelion of the character Shinji sitting in a folding chair, head dropped and buried in his hands. The specific shot of Shinji comes from episode 25 of Neon Genesis Evangelion and has been used as a pop culture reference, a template for memes ever since the image first circulated in the late 2010s.

Shinji Chair Original
Know Your Meme

Shinji in a Chair Original Context

First a little about Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Evangelion, as it’s often abbreviated. The original series ran from October 1995 to March 1996 on TV Tokyo. The series, set fifteen years after a catastrophic worldwide event called the Second Impact, centers around the futuristic city of Toyko-3.

Shinji Ikari, a teenage boy recruited by his father to pilot a giant mecha called an Evangelion in the epic war for his people, is our protagonist. 

The Shinji in a Chair meme (aka Shinji Iraki chair/Shinji Chair meme/Shinji Chair pose) came from episode 25 of Neon Genesis Evangelion, “Do You Love Me?” (In fact, Shinji in a char is the central image on the episode’s IMDB page!) 

During the scene in question, Shinji is facing some extreme guilt. 

The image became an iconic shot from Neon Genesis Evangelion and began seeing use in redraw and parody memes starting roughly in 2015. An early known example of the image being used as a redraw meme was posted on September 10th, 2015 by Tumblr[1] user nightmargin posted a crossover redraw with Gravity Falls characters, gaining over 6,300 notes in seven years (shown below).

Shinji Chair Spread

The meme gained prominence in the late 2010s and into the early 2020s, growing in popularity due to its easily adaptable and redrawable format. 

In the redraw department, one of the most significant instances of its spread was X user @Bacon_strips_MA depicting Vtuber Ouro Kronii as Shinji in the same pose in October 2021.  

Shinji Chair Bacon_strips_MA Post on X
X/@Bacon_Strips_MA

During February 2022, another very popular iteration of the meme featuring Jon Arbuckle from “Garfield” was created.

The original image itself gained notoriety in a December 17th, 2021 post by @westernunion2k (account now deleted) which revealed the female characters Neon Genesis Evangelion giving Shinji a piece of their minds. The post pulled down 17,000 retweets and 129,000 likes in a single year. 

Nearly nine months later, an August 15th, 2022 tweet by @RamenNamenn (account also now deleted) featured Shinji sitting in the ever-popular Froggy Chair, which gained over 12k retweets and 75k likes in its first two months.

Twenty-seven years after he sat down in that chair, Shinji had achieved true internet fame. 

Meme examples:

Shinji Chair Skiing Pinterest post by 9E
Pinterest/9E
Shinji Chair Homer Bart Simpson Know Your Meme Pinterest
Pinterest/9E
Facebook Shinji Chair Urinal Neon Genesis Evangelion post by Aesthetic Posting
Pinterest/9E

@kikicasualcos Was scrolling thru my phone and saw this. Help me find shinji! #shinjicosplay #evangelionneongenesis #shinjichair #animeconvention ♬ Loner – See You Next Year & Terry Presume
Reddit Vianne Art Shinji Chair Parody
Reddit/Vianne Art
Shinji Chair Cosplay Pinterest post by Enny
Reddit/Vianne Art
Shinji Chair Pinterest Spreading Post by Swagdestroyer56
Reddit/Vianne Art

More memes:

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