The best memes of 2020

Well, it’s finally the year 2020 and we don’t have flying cars, yet. You never know what Elon Musk has up his sleeve, so this is naturally subject to change. Donald Trump is still the president, for now—speaking of things that are subject to change. Thankfully, the one constant in all this is that we’ll always have the internet to distract us—or otherwise attempt to make sense of it all. That’s where memes come in. We’re keeping a running list of the best 2020 memes, which will be regularly updated throughout the year and listed in no particular order.

The best memes of 2020

1) WW3

WWiii - memes @CDCarter13/Twitter

The year 2020 started off with a literal bang (sorry, I’m sorry, I’m trying to remove it) when President Donald Trump ordered a drone airstrike at Baghdad International Airport that killed Iran’s top security and intelligence commander Qasem Soleimani. In turn, the totalitarian regime’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed for “severe revenge” against the United States—leading many to speculate if Trump was leading us straight into World War III.

Naturally, the internet took this threat with the upmost seriousness, and Twitter (particularly Black Twitter) was predictably soon proliferated with World War III memes. Many of the memes joked about the possibility or fear of getting drafted, while others roasted the very thought of millennials and Gen-Z having to fight in an actual war. Not everyone was so amused with the memes, however. Realistically, it’s highly unlikely that such a war would be fought on U.S. soil, and some argued that the jokes were in poor taste.

2) ‘Yeah, good. OK’

yeah ok good meme Reddit

There was no love lost between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during the January 2020 Democratic presidential debate, due to conflicting reports that Sanders may or may not have told Warren that “a woman couldn’t be elected president” in a December 2018 meeting. And immediately following the debate, 2020 hopeful Tom Steyer made the mistake of getting mixed up in the fracas.

“I don’t want to get in the middle of it—I just want to say hi to Bernie,” said Steyer, inserting himself between the two candidates who were engaged in sniping at one another. “Yeah, good. OK,” deadpanned Bernie, who could have not had less patience, at the time. It didn’t take long for the moment to become a meme, as a way of being dismissive online—also drawing comparisons to the “OK Boomer” meme.

time to update your dismissive vernacular from PresidentialRaceMemes

“Time to update your dismissive vernacular,” posted one Redditor to the r/PresidentialRaceMemes Subreddit, comparing “Yeah, good. OK” to “OK boomer.”

3) The poet and the poem

the poet the poem meme MTV/Twiter/@Dino_cochino

The setup for “the poet/the poem” meme—which began trending early in the year—is fairly simple. A user takes a quote—in either a sincere or (more often) ironic manner—and places it alongside the fictional or real character or artist who said the quote.

Variations vary from Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character in Fleabag announcing that she wants to “fuck a priest,” to Snooki from Jersey Shore penning a heartfelt email to her housemate Sam that their fellow housemate Ronnie was caught cheating on her, or the blackmail note from the first season of Desperate Housewives. Really, it proves that anyone can be a poet!

4) Billy Porter’s hat

The mood at the 2020 Grammy Awards was a somber one, considering the fact that earlier in the day Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others died in a tragic helicopter accident. Providing some much-needed levity to the evening, however, was Broadway star and actor Billy Porter, whose outfit basically overshadowed everything else at the award show.

Porter literally shined in a dazzling combination turquoise jacket and jumpsuit, which was topped off with a matching, wide-brimmed hat with a crystal strand privacy “curtain” that could be opened and closed via remote control. “Get on my nerves, and the curtain closes!” tweeted Porter during the event.

The hat quickly became a meme, because how can such a bold fashion statement not turn into a meme?

5) ‘As a treat’

can have as treat meme Meatmen

What began as a funny meme about cats eating salami evolved to another thing entirely, when—around the beginning of the year—the internet realized that enjoying treats was not exclusive to either cats or salami.

Twitter users began posting instances in which [blank] can have [blank] “as a treat,” which quickly became an instant contender for the best memes of 2020. These could consist of the silly or absurd, such as boyfriends having a little of your fancy face wash or Twitter having a little sexy old picture of Alex Trebek—to the more depressing “treats,” like “Americans can have a little health care,” or that girls “can have a little a 78 cents on the dollar, as a treat.” Oof.

6) Dolly Parton’s ‘LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder’ meme

Dolly Parton challenge dollyparton/Instagram jennifer.garner/Instagram

We all know that social media can and should be taken with a grain of salt, to put it lightly. This is why an individual typically has different presences on various social media formats. Shortly after celebrating her 74th birthday in January, legendary country singer-songwriter Dolly Parton turned this phenomenon into a meme.

On her Instagram account, Parton posted a composite of four photographs of herself: one in a smart tweed blazer, one wearing a “Holly Dolly” Christmas sweater, a black and white throwback with a guitar, and one as her dressed up like a Playboy bunny.

“LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Tinder,” she labeled the photos in order, with the caption, “Get you a woman who can do it all.”

Whether or not it was her intention to start a meme—let alone one of the best memes of 2020—is unclear, but her post soon became a viral sensation. Other celebs, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Garner, and Kerry Washington, among others, were happy to play along, as well as your average non-celebrity types.


Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.