Pablo Escobar in Netflix sitting on a bench(l), Pablo Escobar in Netflix standing by a pool

Juan Pablo Gutierrez/Netflix

Remembering Pablo Escobar memes

The popularity of Escobar's image with online communities underscores the intricate relationship between historical figures and digital culture.


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Dec 14, 2023   Updated on Dec 7, 2023, 4:34 pm CST

In the dynamic world of internet memes, the “Pablo Escobar Waiting” or “Sad Pablo Escobar” meme stand out. Originating from the Netflix series “Narcos,” these memes combine the notorious drug lord’s grim persona with relatable scenarios of boredom and anticipation, creating a unique blend of dark humor.

Origin and spread of the Pablo Escobar meme

The image of the “Pablo Escobar Waiting” meme comes from the second season of “Narcos,” a Netflix series chronicling the life of the infamous Colombian drug lord. Actor Wagner Moura’s portrayal of a contemplative and desolate Escobar struck a chord with viewers, who quickly gave the scene the meme treatment.

The meme, first uploaded on Meme Generator, showcased Escobar in three different settings, each depicting the drug lord’s introspective and melancholic mindset. The intriguing contrast of a notorious figure in a vulnerable emotional state resonated with audiences, and set the stage for its viral ascent.

Reddit: The catalyst for virality

Reddit played a crucial role in propelling this meme into the limelight. Initial appearances in subreddits like /r/oneplus quickly expanded to more general forums such as /r/AdviceAnimals and /r/funny. The meme’s universal nature appealed to a diverse audience and helped skyrocket it to viral fame.

The appeal of Pablo Escobar memes

Relatability in Everyday Life

The meme’s charm lies in its juxtaposition of a notorious figure with the tedium of waiting and the loneliness of everyday life. From waiting for a friend to anticipating an online order, it humorously captures universal feelings of boredom and solitude.

@gosling.real ♬ Tuyo (Narcos Theme) – Rodrigo Amarante

But while the meme is entertaining, it also navigates the complex territory between dark humor and insensitivity. Escobar’s real-life history of violence and crime introduces several ethical considerations regarding the trivialization of such figures through internet memes. Escobar waited 5 years you can wait a day👀🍭 #candycartel #halalcandy #fyp ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Creating memes about figures like Escobar demands a responsible approach to meme-making. The intent and potential ramifications of such memes should be carefully considered, ensuring they neither glorify nor trivialize the subject’s controversial past.

@dpn259 Waiting for follows like….. #funny #likes #follows #growth #trending #foryou #fypシ #fyp #lonely #pablo #waiting ♬ I Will Be Right Here Waiting for You – Steve Pais

A meme icon?

The popularity of Escobar’s image with online communities underscores the intricate relationship between historical figures and digital culture, but it also prompts a broader discussion on the ethical boundaries in the creation of memes, especially when dealing with contentious personalities.

The transformation of Pablo Escobar into a meme icon is a testament to the far-reaching impact of internet culture. As creators and consumers of digital content, we are responsible for ensuring our contributions are respectful and considerate. This balance is essential for maintaining the entertainment value and the historical consciousness of our shared digital landscape.

The Escobar meme phenomenon is a perfect example of the internet’s power to recast historical figures in a new light. But while undeniably entertaining, these memes also serve as a reminder of the nuanced responsibility that accompanies meme creation and distribution in today’s digital age.

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*First Published: Dec 14, 2023, 8:00 am CST