The best memes of 2018
The year 2018 has a tough act to follow in terms of memes: 2017 expanded the internet culture vernacular with new classics like Distracted Boyfriend, White Guy Blinking, Cracking Open a Cold One With the Boys, and Expanding Brain. Whomst‘ll be the best memes of 2018? We’re already starting to find out.
Here’s our running list of the best memes of 2018, broken down in chronological order from each month of the year.
The best memes of 2018: January
1) Tide Pods
Tide’s laundry detergent pods are truly the forbidden fruit. They look like delicious candy, but they can also kill you if you eat them! The internet’s obsession with death, food, and bad decisions has made the temptation to eat Tide Pods into a meme—to the point where people are making their own out of gelatin.
Do you know de wey? Ugandan Knuckles is a deformed version of Knuckles the Echidna from the Sonic the Hedgehog games, and he speaks with a faux-African accent. In VRChat, the latest virtual chatroom app, hundreds of trolls use him as their avatar, swarming other players and repeating catchphrases from a Ugandan action movie. It’s as surreal as it sounds. Is it also kind of racist? Yep! But the gamers who love it don’t think so. Knuckles is well on his way to becoming the next Pepe the Frog.
A line from a 1939 Goldilocks cartoon, “somebody toucha my spaghet” is an Italian-caricature catchphrase that swept social media in January. It was mainly a nonsequitur found in weird YouTube remixes, but it got a huge boost from popular gaming YouTuber PewDiePie. He claimed “YouTube touched my spaghet!” after the site stopped the ad revenue on one of his videos.
Logan Paul damaged his career and became a meme when he filmed a dead body in Japan’s Aokigahara “Suicide Forest.” He offended an entire country and lost sponsorships and YouTube money, and he became a meme in the process. No one could believe he would be that dumb.
This Chinese trend showed posters going from plain to stunning with one sweep of a blanket. It was practically magic! It’s called “Karma Is a Bitch” because of the line from Riverdale that plays over every video, and because it implies that these amazing reveals are retribution against shallow people who focus only on looks. It also reminded us that that Kreayshawn song was a banger.
The best memes of 2018: February
Conservative commentator Steven Crowder visited a college campus with a sign reading: “Male privilege is a myth. Change my mind.” No one did, but they changed his sign with Photoshop, mercilessly mocking him and his original premise.
“Scientists at Harvard University have created this 3D Model depicting what ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra may have looked like,” joked one Twitter user, captioning a 3D model that was very obviously Britney Spears. Britney may be a queen, but she’s not Cleopatra. Lots of people somehow missed the joke and got outraged at what they thought was whitewashing, but many others laughed and posted their own “models of Cleopatra” jokes.
Is Tesla founder Elon Musk’s name short for “Elongated Muskrat?” Nah, but it would hilarious if it were. Calling Musk “Muskrat” became a big trend in February, especially after he made the news with his successful Falcon Heavy rocket launch.
I think I found my new hobby pic.twitter.com/PAYMRM7wXz— ✰ JAY ✰ (@jaypaulgeorge) February 13, 2018
Gym Kardashian, a.k.a. Buff Kim Kardashian, is a humorous Photoshop of Kim K. with enormous, musclebound arms. Kim has been working out lately, but the bulked-up biceps still look out of place, and it’s hard not to laugh. You can also use the meme to represent a strong woman who means business.
The best memes of 2018: March
Spongebob Squarepants memes experienced a huge resurgence in March, starting with “Evil Patrick.” This screengrab of Spongebob’s friend Patrick Star glowering down at him was used to represent any evil, petty thought a person might have, and it was everywhere.
March’s other big SpongeBob meme used the show’s two competing restaurants, the Krusty Krab and the Chum Bucket, to compare things to other, lower-quality alternatives. If you needed to throw shade by saying one thing was worse than another, this was the meme for you.
Ben Affleck’s back tattoo looks like it was ALSO directed by Zack Snyder pic.twitter.com/Nz3wK0bNZ7— Chase Mitchell (@ChaseMit) March 19, 2018
Actor Ben Affleck’s comically huge back tattoo, once thought to be painted on for a movie role, turned out to be real. The internet was absolutely loving it, and everyone scrambled to one-up each other with the funniest sick burns. Batman? More like back man, amirite?
I found my new favorite meme pic.twitter.com/QGB1bH5sSV— Kelly T (@increasethesoup) March 20, 2018
Jokes about America’s lust for oil were all the rage as President Trump gathered his “war cabinet.” Any kind of oil, whether it was in the ground, in a hot pan, or inside someone’s skin, got American soldiers Photoshopped onto. It seems like meme teens who were in diapers during the Iraq War are learning some recent history, and they’re not impressed with what they’re finding.
Is Marvel’s Infinity War, featuring more than 30 superheroes and villains, really the “most ambitious crossover event” of all time? Meme fans say no, and they’re making good jokes about their own absurd favorite crossovers, in everything from classic cartoons to basketball.
once i fix my sleep schedule, start eating healthy, get physically fit, beat depression, stop procrastinating, learn how to do taxes, get mentally strong enough to make phone calls, then it’s over for you bitches— Seth Everman (@SethEverman) March 13, 2018
“It’s Over For You Bitches” is what you say when you finally achieve your life goals, whether they’re modest or impossibly ambitious. The phrase was used a lot in March to joke about overcoming everyday struggles or to make fun of how far we all have to go to become basically functional human beings. When you finally get it together, it’s over for the unnamed “bitches” who doubted you.
Black Panther’s villain, Erik Killmonger (played by Michael B. Jordan), had several memorable lines in the critically-acclaimed Marvel film. The one that stuck the most with the internet? When Killmonger yells, “Is this your king?” to the people of Wakanda while battling T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). One Twitter user turned the line into a pun during a chilly first week of Spring, and a meme was born.
17) American Chopper
Who would have guessed that five panels about a father and son arguing would become a viral meme in 2018? In the original clip, from 2009, Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr. fight in the reality TV show American Chopper. Then again, everyone on the internet has something to argue about, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that this meme took off in such a big way.
18) Gru’s Plan
Everyone has seen far too many Minions memes at this point, so it was a relief to see a different Despicable Me character being meme’d. “Gru’s Plan” is all about your master plan going terribly wrong.
The best memes of 2018: April
In April, an 11-year-old named Mason Ramsey stood in a Walmart and yodeled his heart out. His performance was captured on video, and it quickly became a meme. Mason’s internet celebrity status led an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and a set at Coachella. In June, he released a studio recording of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” the song he yodeled to in the video that launched his career.
You want the people in your life to still love you at your “worst”—when you’re ill, broke, tired, depressed, or overall going through a tough time in life. A popular April meme illustrated this point with two photos, paired side by side, that showed a person (or fictional pop culture character) at their worst self versus their best self. Naturally, this memes worked perfectly with Pokémon evolutions and actors at different times in their career.
21) Squinting Woman
Kalin Elisa was posing for an Instagram photo while squatting on the ground. Then her friend took an outtake photo that showed Elisa squinting and looking out of breath. That photo turned her into a popular meme on Twitter. Elisa embraced her meme status, telling the Daily Dot that “to see my picture used to illustrate so many hilarious situations has been the absolute greatest.”
22) Twitter Stars
Occasionally, a genuinely earnest meme rises to the top. In April, Twitter users began copy and pasting a series of contrasting Unicode stars that bleed into other images. The effect was, in a word, magical. Even Kenny G and Dolly Parton participated in the meme.
A line from the Adult Swim comedy show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! became a popular meme after someone posted it on Reddit. The line, “It’s free real estate,” comes from a 2009 sketch featuring Tim.
After Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, people began circulating Photoshopped images of the Facebook founder. The images depicted Zuckerberg looking especially “thicc”—curvy in internet speak. And so an absurd meme was born.
Comedian Eric Andre’s 2013 sketch led to a perfect meme format for pointing out a person’s hypocrisy. People used it to illustrate points about climate change, millennials, Donald Trump, and even Game of Thrones.
A creepy video game creature became a weird meme when people started Photoshopping him into different scenarios. Someone even made Apyr, from Fallout 4, a Tinder profile.
27) Perfect Man
If you had $100 to build the “perfect man,” what traits would you spend it on? That’s the game that Twitter users played in April. The result was a hilarious new meme.
The best memes of 2018: May
28) Anime Butterfly
The butterfly meme, which uses a screengrab from the anime The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, quickly became one of the top memes of 2018 after people started sharing it on Twitter. The screengrab features a character, who is an android, motioning at a butterfly and asking, “Is this a pigeon?” Reader, it’s not a pigeon. But it’s definitely an easy setup for a meme about people incorrectly identifying something.
Spoiler alert! At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the supervillain Thanos collects all the Infinity Stones and completes his mission of wiping out half of the population in the world. In the film, we see these characters slowly turn into dust. The effect was emulated by people with Photoshop at the ready—and it became one of the top Marvel film memes of the year.
What do you get when you combine Shrek‘s Lord Farquaad, YouTuber Markiplier, and Mark Zuckerberg? A seriously weird mashup meme. The image first appeared in 2015, but a new version of it started circulating in 2018 and appeared as a “deep-fried” meme. As for the “E,” it’s an absurd joke, one that doesn’t have an explanation. Naturally, the internet loved it.
Every year, at least one pose or dance move turns into a meme. Is the T-pose the pose of 2018? The stance is known for its appearance in video games and 3-D animation programs, but it turned into a thing kids started doing in real life.
32) BBQ Becky
In May, a white woman called the cops on a group of Black people who were barbecuing in a public park in Oakland, California. The woman became known as “BBQ Becky,” and the image of her on her cell phone was Photoshopped into pictures that feature Black people—like the Obamas and the cast from Black Panther.
33) Yanny or Laurel?
A few years ago, it was “the dress” that divided the internet—a photo of a garment that some people thought was black and blue, while others thought it was white and gold. Yanny vs. Laurel is an audio version of the dress; some heard Yanny, some heard Laurel, and some people claimed to hear both words. The real word? Laurel.
34) Captain America
The detention video that Peter Parker watches in Spider-Man: Homecoming features another Marvel superhero—Captain America. A screengrab of Cap looking at the camera in the video became a meme to tell someone, “So, you screwed up.”
The best memes of 2018: June
35) Young Thug
A studio photo of Young Thug and Lil Durk, both looking seriously at a computer screen, became a viral meme on Twitter when people started adding their own captions to the image. Soon, people began Photoshopping Young Thug into images of the Situation Room and the bridge on Starfleet ships.
36) LeBron James
Before James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers over the summer, he became frustrated with his Cleveland Cavaliers teammate J.R. Smith in a viral moment that people turned into a meme.
37) Big Dick Energy
Perhaps the biggest meme to come out of Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s relationship and short-lived engagement was Big Dick Energy (BDE), a term that can be applied to anyone, regardless of gender. It’s a certain air of confidence that people once thought Davidson possessed. (Maybe he still has it, we’ll see.)
38) Thicc Elastigirl
When Pixar’s Incredibles 2 was released, people noticed that Helen Parr, also known as Elastigirl, was looking thicc. Soon, everyone on the internet was openly horny for the animated superhero—even film critics.
It’s hard to listen to “Despacito” and not want to dance. So it makes perfect sense that it’s a song you’d request if you’re feeling down. This meme started when a Tumblr user posted the phrase to the site after his cat ate his spaghetti. Sad indeed.
The best memes of 2018: July
40) My Momma Said
A photo of a young Cardi B looking at the camera with an expression that looks like she is explaining something to an adult became a hilarious caption meme. The phrase “my momma said” is often used with the photo.
At the peak of their relationship, Ariana Grande was photographed looking longingly at Pete Davidson while sucking on a lollipop. The photo became the perfect backdrop for an object-labeling meme.
42) Howard the Alien
A computer-generated image of an alien dancing in front of a green screen turned into a weird yet lovable meme. People photoshopped Howard into all sorts of situations, always dancing.
The best memes of 2018: August
A scene from Monsters, Inc. featuring the one-eyed Mike Wazowski turned into a meme about people singing along passionately to their favorite songs as kids.
44) Princess Merida
The most memorable part of the Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet trailer was a scene featuring all the Disney princesses just hanging out and talking. Even Brave‘s Merida was there, and Scottish Twitter took the opportunity to turn her into a meme about people not understanding her accent.
If there’s one thing people can agree on, it’s handshake memes. Early versions of this meme featured a screengrab from the 1987 film Predator, but soon people began using stock images of people shaking hands, crossing arms, or bumping fists to illustrate a commonality between disparate groups of people.
Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before gave us a new internet boyfriend (Noah Centineo) and plenty of memes. The best one took the beginning of the title of the film and edited the latter part.
YouTube is home to plenty of strange videos aimed at kids, but the “Johny Johny Yes Papa” series—featuring a toddler being scolded by his dad for eating sugar—takes the cake. The funny yet terrifying videos went viral after being shared on Twitter.
The best memes of 2018: September
When an artist who enjoys drawing vegetables received a Facebook message from a stranger, she responded. But she couldn’t have predicted what would happen next: that the man’s wife would tell her to f*ck off. She turned the exchange into a meme and created a private Facebook group for people in on the joke.
Joe Rogan invited Elon Musk to smoke weed live on camera, and the Tesla CEO took the bait, er blunt. The images of Musk taking a hit and blowing out smoke inspired countless memes. (Also: it wasn’t the only weed meme involving Musk this year!)
50) Sluggo is lit
The new Nancy comics, which are now being drawn by Olivia Jaimes, often reflect our tech-obsessed world. This panel of Nancy saying “Sluggo is lit” while riding a Hoverboard and holding a selfie stick began an immediate meme.
51) Bongo Cat
Bongo Cat is a Twitter creation. It all started with a GIF of an illustrated cat by @StrayRogue, which @DitzyFlam edited to make it look like the cat was playing a pair of bongos. Soon, Bongo Cat was seen playing the guitar, the keyboard, and other instruments—all to the tune of hit songs. Bongo Cat is perhaps the most earnest and wholesome meme of 2018.
Avengers: Infinity War was one of the most talked-about blockbuster films of the year. Most of the memes hit the internet shortly after the film’s release in April, but a meme that uses a scene with Thanos and Doctor Stranger didn’t arrive until September. In the film, Strange says, “Let me guess, your home?” when referencing Titan, Thanos’ home planet. Of course, the internet had many different responses to Strange’s question.
Bowsette is what happens when Bowser meets Peachette. Illustrators on Twitter shared dozens of images of the fan-created Mario character, which in turn spawned edits of other characters. Like Waluigette.
54) Moth memes
An image of a moth ordering a lamp at a drive-thru window spawned one of the year’s most popular memes. We all know that moths are attracted to artificial light, and that’s the whole joke of this meme. Moths love lamp!
The Philadelphia Flyers probably had no idea that its mascot would quickly turn into a meme and an antifa symbol. But that’s exactly what Gritty, the hairy, orange creature unveiled on Sept. 24, became. And the world is now a better place with Gritty in it.
The best memes of 2018: October
“This ain’t it chief” is what you say when you’re not buying what someone is saying/selling. It was a popular reaction on Twitter when Kanye West made an appearance on SNL as a bottle of Perrier water, but people used it in many different ways in 2018. There’s also variations of this internet speak (“Chief called.”)
If you brag about something that doesn’t reflect very highly of you —or you show off in a strange way—someone might say, ‘weird flex but ok.’
58) A Star is Born
The scene that became a meme from 2018’s A Star is Born isn’t unique—it’s a nod to earlier versions of the film. Still, the internet had a lot of fun with the “Hey, I just wanted to take another look at you” scene with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. And it all started when people started pulling screengrabs from the trailer. By the time the film was released in October, the film itself was already a meme.
“This is MY son,” began a mother in a tweet in early October, before describing how a “climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists” is stopping her son from going on “solo dates.” She included a picture of her son, in uniform, with the tweet. The internet hilariously parodied the format of the original tweet to describe characters in pop culture. The story has a happy ending—the son in question created a Twitter account to tell the world that his mother’s depictions of him were completely false. He identifies as an ally and a “cat dad.”
It’s a new day. Let’s get this bread! The phrase became popular during October as a way to, sometimes ironically, encourage people to work hard and earn a living. Hopefully, one day, am I right?
Those who grew up using LimeWire loved this meme that mixes up Simpsons screengrabs with the former file-sharing company’s lime logo. Most of the memes were about the issues with using the service, like the fact that downloading one song could cause your family’s computer to stop working. Whoops!
Someone unearthed this photo of teenage Miley Cyrus giving a dead-eyed stare at the camera, and people loved using it in memes all over Twitter at the end of October.
An out-of-focus screengrab of Pikachu from the Pokémon anime series became perfect fodder for a reaction meme about being surprised about an outcome that you should have seen coming.
The best memes of 2018: November
64) ‘Thank U, Next’
Ariana Grande’s song “Thank U, Next,” released after her breakup with Pete Davidson, was an immediate hit. It was also a meme machine in November. One misheard lyric had people thinking Ariana was dating someone named “Aubrey,” and the lyrics “One taught me love, one taught me patience, and one taught me pain” became a Twitter meme which people shared with corresponding images.
The ASCII design bunny made several appearances on Twitter in 2018. But the ‘you want this?’ bunny that dominated our feeds in early November inspired creative edits using different emojis. The result was a delightfully earnest meme.
66) ‘Don’t Say It’
We all have responses to reoccurring questions that are blurted out without much thought. The ‘don’t say it’ meme is all about holding back those responses so we don’t look like fools. Oops, too late.
Everyone collectively freaked out when the trailer for Pokémon: Detective Pikachu hit the internet. Some thought that the realistic Pokémon characters were straight-up creepy, while others immediately turned screengrabs and clips into memes. If internet reactions are any indication of success, this film will do well when its released in theaters on May 10, 2019.
No one knows how this extremely good-looking Mandarin duck arrived in New York’s Central Park, but he appears to be having a great time in the city. After he became an internet sensation in November, he started attracting crowds IRL at Central Park. He also inspired lots of memes, mainly about his appearance.
A system used to perform delicate surgical operations, called the da Vinci Single-Site, got a lot of attention for a video that demonstrates how it works—on a grape. A screengrab of the Cheddar video, with the caption “They Did Surgery on a Grape,” went viral on meme accounts. And that’s it. People thought it was really funny that doctors performed surgery on a grape.
70) Giant Cow (Steer)
A photo of a seemingly giant cow towering over a group of small cows went viral in late November. As it turns out, the cow in question wasn’t actually a cow but a steer—a male bovine usually raised for beef. Knickers, who is 6-foot-4, is too big to fit in the slaughterhouse so he will live the rest of his life looking after other cows and enjoying life as an internet star.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.
Tiffany Kelly is the Unclick editor at Daily Dot. Previously, she worked at Ars Technica and Wired. Her writing has appeared in several other print and online publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Popular Mechanics, and GQ.