Two astronauts are floating in space. One expresses surprise at something he never suspected about Earth, revealed now that he’s above it. The other astronaut brandishes a gun and says, regarding the surprise, “Always has been.” Welcome to the absurdity of the “always has been” meme, also known as the “Wait, it’s all Ohio?” meme, which found its form in 2018 and has been a surreal staple of the internet ever since.
It hasn’t always been around. But here’s how it got started and why it’s appealing.
Origins of the ‘always has been’ meme
According to Know Your Meme, the origins of the meme go back to a r/dankmemes post from 2016, in which Redditor Wiegand6 showed a crudely-rendered drawing of two astronauts, with one (appearing to have an American flag on his spacesuit) marveling at a flat earth, while the other behind him (appearing to have an Israeli flag on his spacesuit), saying, “sry fam” as he brandishes a gun.
The meme then evolved to a crude version of its current form in August 2018, from a 4chan user who submitted a graphic based on the Wiegand6 post, only with a Soviet cosmonaut looking down on a globe and asking, “Wait it’s all America?” and the American astronaut behind him saying “Always has been” as he points the gun toward the cosmonaut.
Where did ‘Wait it’s all Ohio?’ come from?
From there, the meme grew in popularity, and gained its other popular name in October 2019, when an iFunny user named iOhioan posted a variation on the “always has been,” with an American astronaut looking at a globe with a giant Ohio on it, saying, “Wait it’s all Ohio?” and the astronaut with a gun, wearing Ohio’s distinctive, oddly-shaped flag, saying, “Always has been.”
By 2020, the “always has been” meme (now also known as the “Wait graduated from Microsoft Paint to more realistic renderings of astronauts. Go to the IMGflip “always has been” meme generator, and you’ll see the more current astronauts (with an Ohio astronaut pointing the gun at the American astronaut), which appeared in a Reddit post in 2020.
Okay, but what does it mean?
In a 2021 post on the r/OutOfTheLoop subreddit, someone clearly flummoxed by the meme asked, “What’s the deal with the astronaut with a gun meme?” That Redditor went on to note, “I see it everywhere here and many think it’s hilarious. Am I the only one that doesn’t get it? How did it get so popular?”
One response to the query noted, “It’s a parody of a generic action movie scene that a lot of people can imagine in their heads. The hero finds out some great secret, and someone he trusted reveals himself to be a traitor that has to silence him.”
That person then added, “The original version, ‘It’s all Ohio,’ is just an absurd thing that you would only learn if you were looking at Earth from space.”
Another opined, “The Ohio joke is actually a reference to how a lot of astronauts were, inexplicably, from Ohio. The ‘reveal’ in the meme is that the entire world is Ohio was the big secret.”
Someone else went on to deep dive, “Ohio, astronauts, and conspiracy theories collided in a land of deep-fried memes and produced something that was weird enough to be catchy, and exploitable enough to endlessly reproduce.”
And in December 2022, a TikToker brought it home with one having the American astronaut ask, “Wait, it’s all Earth?”
Always has been♬ original sound – Lala
A weird meme? Yes, always has been.