Side eye memes have become an internet staple, encapsulating skepticism, judgment, and often, humorous disbelief towards various situations. Let’s dive into some of the most iconic side-eye memes, and explore their origins and impact on internet culture.
‘Whatcha Talkin’ Bout Willis?’
The phrase “Whatcha talkin’ bout Willis” from the TV show “Diff’rent Strokes” has evolved into a popular meme that embodies a combination of disbelief and skepticism. The original scene dates back to 1978, but it gained prominence in the digital era after it was posted to YouTube in 2007.
As the precocious Arnold Jackson, actor Gary Coleman often spoke the line when confronting his brother Willis, played by Todd Bridges. The meme became a staple for users wanting to express doubt in online conversations.
Side Eye dog
Originating in a Reddit post from April 2015, the image of a dachshund with a suspicious side glance captured the hearts of internet users. It quickly spread across platforms like TikTok and Instagram with users employing the image as a reaction to humorously express doubt or suspicion. The meme’s continued popularity underscores how animal expressions are often humanized to reflect our own feelings.
Michelle Obama’s inaugural side eye
During the 2017 presidential inauguration, a number of Michelle Obama’s facial expressions, which were interpreted as annoyed or irritated, sparked a flurry of memes online. In particular, the former first lady’s reaction to Melania Trump gifting her a Tiffany’s gift box went viral, with Michelle’s side-eye glance towards the camera capturing her perceived discomfort. This moment highlighted how a public figure’s non-verbal cues could become fodder for widespread internet humor.
The Popeyes kid: From viral video to NIL deal
The “Popeyes Kid” meme, which originated from a 2013 Vine video, features young Dieunerst Collin giving the camera a massive side-eyed glance. The meme exploded in popularity with people using it to express bewilderment or unease towards a certain situation.
The meme remained so popular that a decade later, in January 2023, Collin secured a name, image, and likeness (NIL) deal with Popeyes, which is a sponsorship deal that allowed the company to use Collin’s name, image and likeness on billboards and other advertisements for the fast-food restaurant.
@cbssports The Meme Kid leveled up… in a major way #blackhistorymonth #popeyes #memekid ♬ original sound – CBS Sports
Side Eye TikTok meme
The side eye trend on TikTok, started by user Cynthia Mmasi (@cynthiammasi), emphasizes the universal appeal of the side-eye expression. The trend was inspired by a viral sound that said, “Bombastic side eye. Criminal, offensive side eye,” and users lip synched to the audio while moving their eyes.
@tescobeatslidl Replying to @beverly.xoi side eye 🌝🌚 #cynthiammasi ♬ original sound – 🗣️
Side eyeing Chloe
Side eyeing Chloe is a photoshop meme based on a young girl’s reaction to a surprise trip to Disneyland. Chloe’s concerned look, captured in a YouTube video, became a sensation on Tumblr and later on other platforms, and her expression was photoshopped onto various celebrities as a go-to meme to express confusion or concern.
@strictlyeverything WATN Side Eyeing Chloe⁉️ #strictly #strictlyeverything ♬ original sound – Strictly Everything
Bombastic Side Eye
The original (without Vine booms) comes from creator Malaika Norman, who posts as @lmfaomal on TikTok and has more than 110,000 followers.
Norman duetted a remix in March 2023, and expressed her disbelief when Kim and North used the sound that same month. The latter TikTok has more than 10 million views, and the bombastic side eye tag has more than 700 million views.
Side eye memes resonate with audiences with to their ability to convey skepticism, judgment, or disbelief in a relatable and humorous way. From iconic TV shows to viral social media posts, these memes have found a special place in online culture, as they offer a unique lens through which we view and react to the world around us.
Whether with a skeptical dachshund, Michelle Obama’s glance, or the Popeyes Kid, these memes allow us to express ourselves in ways words alone cannot, and have become an integral part of our digital language.