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What does the Ohio meme mean?

In the expansive world of internet memes, Ohio has emerged as a surprising star.


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Oct 30, 2023   Updated on Nov 6, 2023, 9:20 am CST

In the expansive world of internet memes, Ohio has emerged as a surprising star. An intriguing blend of humor, absurdity, and mystery, the Ohio meme has carved out its own unique corner in internet culture.

Origins of the Ohio meme

The roots of the Ohio meme, which, according to Know Your Meme, humorously depicts the state as a place where bizarre events occur, can be traced back to a 2016 Tumblr post. The image was posted to the Tumblr page, “screenshots of despair,” and it showed a bus stop sign with a sign that read, “Ohio will be eliminated.”

This puzzling message prompted users to jokingly wonder: What had Ohio done to deserve such a fate? The idea went viral, making the rounds on Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram. By 2019, this Ohio-centric joke had also evolved into the “Wait, it’s all Ohio? Always has been” meme.

Popularity on TikTok and Twitter

The meme was given a new life once it started to become popular on TikTok with users posting bizarre occurrences they came across and labeling them as things that happen “Only in Ohio.” The trend gained further traction when the 2011 song “Swag Like Ohio” by Lil B became the backing track for many of these videos.

The “Can’t even (blank) in Ohio” meme, inspired by the “Can’t have sh*t in Detroit” trend, further played on the eeriness linked with Ohio. It humorously imagined various mundane scenarios in Ohio leading to outrageous outcomes.

@daniele_guaitoli only in ohio😩 #ohio #cat #fyp ♬ legalize anabolic steroids – Danny

Per Dexerto, the tag “only in Ohio” amassed an astonishing 1.5 billion views on TikTok as of August 2023. Meanwhile, major accounts on X, formerly known as Twitter also embraced the meme, and amplified its reach and popularity.

Geography and cultural context

For those unfamiliar, Ohio sits in America’s midwest, bordered by Michigan, Lake Erie, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. With its capital in Columbus and major cities like Cleveland, home to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, Ohio has a rich cultural tapestry. Yet, for meme creators, Ohio symbolizes something more profound, and it acts as a satirical reflection of America’s larger absurdities and mysteries.

Ohio’s enigmatic appeal

The memes hint at an underlying mystery: What is happening in Ohio? They spotlight a curious intersection between the ordinary and the extraordinary, melding Ohio’s known characteristics with the imagined. The memes poke fun but also, in a strange way, romanticize Ohio’s unique place in the cultural psyche.


The Ohio meme, a blend of humor and eerie mystique, offers a quirky lens through which we view the Buckeye State. As with most internet phenomena, its popularity may wane, but for now, Ohio is a captivating emblem of the internet’s power to shape and reshape perceptions.

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*First Published: Oct 30, 2023, 3:53 pm CDT