Chris Hansen became a household name from 2004 to 2007 with the show To Catch a Predator, which famously featured Hansen getting suspected sexual predators to sit down for interviews, who would then by and large regret sitting down for those interviews when they ended up being on TV. So of course there are Chris Hansen memes.
Let’s explore the Chris Hansen history and how the catchphrase, “Why don’t you take a seat?” entered the meme world.
Who is Chris Hansen?
Though a team of NBC personalities from Dateline NBC were involved with To Catch a Predator, Hansen became the face of the show, appearing a host on the show in 20 episodes of its four-year run, according to IMDb.
A Collider article critical of To Catch a Predator described the show as “an NBC sting operation that catches adult men in the act of soliciting minors for sexual acts. The team hunkers down in chat rooms, posing as young girls, to communicate with older men. These men are looking to meet up with them, and they insinuate that they would like to perform inappropriate acts with the minor.
Why ‘To Catch a Predator’ was controversial
It then noted, “Reporters were one of the first to jump on To Catch A Predator being questionable in execution,” citing Brian Montopoli from CBS News’s 2006 piece accusing the show of being more concerned with ratings than justice, using entrapment to effectively generate interviews.
Montopoli argued in that article, “It can be extremely difficult to discuss journalistic ethics when dealing with a topic such as this. Dateline, many would argue, is exposing predators and getting them off the streets, and so high minded debates about the ethics of the program’s methods do not come into the equation. I am sympathetic to that argument, and, indeed, I find the actions of the men featured in the program disturbing. But I don’t think we can abandon questions of journalistic conduct just because our first instinct is that the ends justify the means.”
The Collider article also mentioned Hansen’s alleged infidelity, nodding to a Radar article alleging NBC severed ties with Hansen over the issue. It also mentioned a 2019 case alleging Hansen tried to buy $13,000 worth of items from a Connecticut store. That case, according to NBC News, was eventually dropped; Hansen’s lawyer noted, “It’s just an unfortunate bump. Life is complicated for everybody and this was just his bump.”
How did Chris Hansen become a meme?
On Oct. 3, 2007, Hansen moved closer to meme territory by being lampooned in a South Park episode called “Le Petit Tourette,” in which principal character Cartman fakes having Tourette’s syndrome “so he can say whatever he wants,” according to the IMDb episode summary. Hansen ends up interviewing Cartman even though he professes not wanting to be interviewed.
One commenter said on a YouTube video of the interview scene, “I like how they they portray the ‘take a seat’ thing like if it was a magic spell that forces people to sit down.”
According to Know Your Meme, Chris Hansen memes began surfacing as early as August 2007. The first known meme was on 4chan’s notorious /b/ imageboard, where a clearly-disguised image of Hansen was posted accompanying a request for illicit content—a request appeared to be satire—and was met with one commenter offering, “This guy looks legit to me.”
One creator made a Facebook page in 2010 titled, “I hate it when Chris Hansen offers me a seat and has my chat logs.” That page still has more than 7,000 followers.
In 2012, Know Your Meme notes that the image morphed, thanks to a picture of a cat seated at a counter that appeared on Reddit, as “Chris Hansen Cat,” asking questions in Hansen’s gotcha manner but from a cat’s perspective. One version of this, on humor site Cheezburger, has Chris Hansen Cat saying, “Take a seat, and tell me how the dog got here.”
Search “Chris Hansen” on Imgur, and you’ll find several meme-ready templates, including a transparency in which Hansen is partially in the frame, at an angle, to be coupled with whatever text you might find workable to accompany that.
What has Chris Hansen done lately?
Hansen can be found on his own YouTube channel creating the same kind of content he was in his heyday, including an interview with a Michigan corrections officer arrested in a sting operation, in which arresting officers delivered him to a hotel room, next to the one when officers met him, where Hansen was waiting with his crew.
That interview, recorded in 2020, got more than 1.9 million views as of Dec. 15, 2023.