Roll Safe, the 'thinking meme' guy, explained

BuzzFeed UK/Youtube

Roll Safe, the ‘thinking meme’ guy, explained

Roll Safe is an avatar for dubious advice or solutions.


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Dec 4, 2023

In the ever-evolving world of internet memes, few have been as consistently popular as the Roll Safe, or thinking guy, meme. Depicting actor Kayode Ewumi pointing to his temple with a knowing smile, the meme became synonymous with clever, but often hilariously flawed, logic and decision-making.

Keep reading for a deep dive into the origins and spread of this iconic internet sensation.

Origin of Roll Safe

Roll Safe is the nickname of a character named Reece Simpson in the BBC web series, Hood Documentary. Created by British filmmaker and actor Kayode Ewumi, the character of Roll Safe was portrayed by Ewumi himself.

The specific screenshot that sparked the meme is from a mini-documentary uploaded by BBC Three on their YouTube channel on June 1st, 2016. In the clip, Simpson makes a joke about a woman’s intelligence and then points to his temple as if to emphasize his cunning thinking. Thus, the thinking guy meme was born. This single image captured a moment of comedic genius and laid the groundwork for a meme that would soon take the internet by storm.

@seasonedbf I Accidentally Became A Meme #rollsafe #meme #fyp ♬ original sound – Seasoned

The rise and spread of the Roll Safe meme

Roll Safe first morphed into a meme on Twitter in late January 2017. It initially circulated on British Twitter accounts and later gained traction on Black Twitter, a community known for its influential and often viral content. The meme featured Ewumi’s image typically accompanied by captions that humorously highlighted flawed logic or poor decision-making.

For instance, a popular iteration included the caption, “You can’t be broke if you don’t check your bank account,” perfectly encapsulating the meme’s message of embracing a state of blissful ignorance. The adaptable captions allowed the meme to embrace various types of humor that resonated across different audiences on the internet, and lead to its widespread use.

Global appeal and variations

The popularity of Roll Safe was broad, as it appealed to more than just one demographic or region. The simplicity of the thinking guy meme’s humor allowed it to cross cultural and geographic boundaries. With its versatility, the meme lent itself to many situations in which illogical solutions would be jokingly proposed as viable options. This universality and adaptablity was critical to its rapid spread across various social media platforms.

The Roll Safe meme quickly moved beyond the confines of Twitter and Reddit, making its way into popular culture. It has been referenced in TV shows, in other memes, and it has even found a place in political commentary as a symbol of the often illogical nature of political rhetoric. Its inclusion in various ‘best memes’ lists, including those by BuzzFeed News, The Daily Dot, and Insider, cemented its status as a key player in the meme world of 2017.

Lasting impact

The Roll Safe meme is far from a fleeting internet trend. It has had a lasting impact on online humor, representing a particular brand of comedy where ignorance and flawed logic are celebrated. Over the years, the character of Roll Safe has become an avatar for dubious advice or solutions.

From its humble beginnings in a British web series to its status as a globally recognized symbol of hilariously flawed logic, the Roll Safe meme continues to be a beloved part of the internet’s meme lexicon, proving that sometimes, the most illogical ideas can generate the most universal laughter.

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*First Published: Dec 4, 2023, 1:27 pm CST