“Pawn Stars,” the History Channel’s popular reality TV series, gave birth to one of the internet’s most enduring memes: the “Best I Can Do Is” meme. This phrase, often uttered by Rick Harrison, owner of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and the show’s central figure, has evolved into a versatile template for humor and satire across the internet.
Origin of the phrase in ‘Pawn Stars’
“Pawn Stars” has been on air since July 2009, and it follows the daily operations of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. Most episodes feature Rick Harrison evaluating items brought in by customers and negotiating prices and Harrison’s frequent use of the phrase “the best I can do is…” (usually followed by a low offer for the item) quickly became synonymous with the show.
The transformation of the phrase into a meme began in 2010, with early meme formats featuring an image of Rick Harrison with the text on top describing an expensive sounding item and the bottom text having the comically low price Rick would be willing to buy it for.
@history Best I can do is… #PawnStars #HistoryChannel ♬ original sound – HISTORY
The earliest recorded instance of this meme has Rick offering fifty cents for a dollar. Though the initial post on Reddit received modest attention, the meme gained significant traction over time. It became a staple on various internet platforms, including the r/dankmemes subreddit, where it garnered thousands of upvotes.
The cultural impact of ‘Pawn Stars’ memes
The “Best I Can Do” meme reflects the broader appeal of “Pawn Stars,” which introduced viewers to unique items, historical artifacts, and the art of negotiation. The meme capitalized on these elements, especially negotiation scenes with Harrison, to create humor that resonated with a broad online audience.
Everyone is posting their January highlight photos— Gandhi mate, Gandhi (@dambledoor_) January 31, 2023
Best I can do is a meme roundup or all pics of my cat pic.twitter.com/Wm0cLXkcMr
The meme found a home in various online communities, spreading across meme hubs like FARK, FunnyJunk, IGN boards, and later, on sites like Tumblr and Buzzfeed. Its popularity was bolstered by the universal relatability of haggling, and the triumph of getting the best price.
“The best I can do” meme is saying: I know you want this, but best I can do is offer you something completely different and shitty. pic.twitter.com/bL4WETSliR— conomarz 🇵🇸 (@conoromarz) November 12, 2023
The “Best I Can Do Is” meme is a testament to the enduring legacy of “Pawn Stars” and its cultural impact. It encapsulates one of the best elements of the show, which is the playful interactions between Harrison and his customers. As “Pawn Stars” continues to entertain audiences, the meme it inspired remains a beloved part of internet culture, and a humorous reflection on the art of the deal in the digital age.
The best of Pawn Star memes♬ La Grange (2019 Remaster) – ZZ Top
The journey from a catchphrase on “Pawn Stars” to a widely recognized internet meme highlights the show’s influence beyond television, and showcases how a simple phrase can capture the imagination of online communities.