he protect meme

Image via SketchyMemes/Instagram

The ‘he protec, but he also attac’ meme is back

The best defense is a good offense/defense.


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 18, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 11:35 pm CDT

“He protec, but he also attac,” a meme that first emerged in 2016, is a humorous misspelling of “he protects, but he also attacks.” It’s always paired with two images of the same character, one in a defensive stance and the other taking an aggressive posture.


It’s a great meme, but it’s not enough merely to protec and attac in the year 2017. Now, you have to do more.

The updated version of the protec/attac meme, which became prominent in mid-July, adds a third panel. It’s another word that near-rhymes with protec and attac, and it’s specific to the character in question. President Obama, for example, protecs and attacs, “but most importantly, he Barrac.”

barack obama protec attac meme

The addition of a third, character-specific panel has added new life and new creativity to a meme that seemed to have stagnated. Instead of finding two photos, a meme creator now has to choose three photos and a caption. It’s literally twice as much meme as it was before!

The expansion of the protec/attac format seems to have started with this meme of Pokémon character Pikachu, which modified the original meme by removing “attac” altogether:

pikachu protec prospec

But the fully-evolved form of the meme leaves “attac” in place and relies on a third panel for the punchline:

donald duck protec attac meme
bin laden protec attac meme
stefan karl robbie rotten protec attac meme
he protect he attac he quac duck meme
nokia protec attac meme

The possibilities for characters and verbs that end in -ct are virtually endless, which gives this meme plenty of legs. On Reddit‘s r/dankmemes, a useful barometer of which memes are about to break out into mainstream success, “he protect/he attac” has grown so popular that some posters are already sick of it. In fact, they’ve started using “protec/attac” to “attac” the meme itself:

protec attac anti-meme with squidward
he protec he attac pepe

Despite the cries that this is a “normie” meme, it actually started with a photo you’re not likely to see on Facebook, showing a naked guy with a lightsaber:

original protec attac meme lightsaber

The original joke hinged entirely on the misspelling and the bizarre images, but now the meme is so much more: it’s all about wordplay and references. It protec, it attac, but most importantly, it connec with meme communities from Reddit to Instagram and beyond.

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*First Published: Jul 18, 2017, 6:39 am CDT