Mad Men is one of the most influential television shows of the last 20 years. Throughout its eight-year run on AMC, the show received widespread critical acclaim for the writing, acting, and historical authenticity. It also collected a total of 16 Emmys and five Golden Globe awards. The show holds the distinction of being the first cable series on basic television to win the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy award—which it won four times.
Another impressive achievement? The memes! From Draping and Peggy Olson’s first day of work to Sad Don, the show inspired many memes, as well as Twitter parody accounts. Let’s take a look at the best ones.
The best Mad Men memes
Draping and opening credit parodies
The final shot in the opening credits of Mad Men shows a black-and white-silhouette of a man smoking a cigarette with his arm stretched over a couch. The man is clearly the protagonist, Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who starts the series as a creative director at an advertising firm in Manhattan.
The silhouette spawned the Draping meme. Draping is taking a photo sitting on a couch, right arm over an object and back to the camera, the same as Draper’s silhouette in the title sequence.
In March 2012, the official Mad Men Twitter account proclaimed that Draping was more popular than Tebowing, another popular photo pose in which participants get down on one knee with a prayer-like fist to the head.
As Mad Men grew in popularity, so did the opening credits, and the entire opening sequence was ripe for parody.
Sad Don Draper
An episode in season 4 of Mad Men, titled “The Suitcase,” centers on the complicated work and personal relationship between Draper and Peggy Olson—who rises over the course of the show from Draper’s assistant to copy chief.
During the episode’s climactic scene, Draper is a wreck after learning that his niece died of cancer. He breaks down in front of Olson as he tries to explain what happened to his niece.
The powerful scene led to the creation of Sad Don Draper—a Photoshop meme that takes a shot of Don Draper crying and puts it over an image of something that is either not sad or comically sad.
Laughing Don Draper also become a Mad Men meme. Ironically, laughing Don and Sad Don work for many of the same jokes and situations. The character is as versatile as the man playing the role.
‘Peggy Walks In’ meme
In the final season of Mad Men, Peggy Olson (played by Elisabeth Moss) was given many great scenes, but the most iconic one is when she strolls into the McCann Erickson office. A GIF of the scene became an instant meme.
In the scene, Olson is hungover after a day of drinking with Roger Sterling at the old Sterling Cooper & Partners office. Olson arrives for her first day at rival agency McCann Erickson like a boss, a box of belongings in her hand, a painting of an octopus sexually pleasing a woman under one arm, and a cigarette hanging from her lips like she’s Keith Richard’s bitchier sister.
Moss said in an interview that she loves the meme, naturally.
1980s Don Draper
The final episode of Mad Men finds Don Draper stumbling into the 1970s, in the middle of California, and sitting criss-cross applesauce during an oceanside spiritual retreat. The famous Coke jingle plays, and it’s easy to imagine Don living life well beyond the ’70s and into the ’80s.
The idea of Don Draper living life in the days of Members Only jackets and yuppies spawned the Twitter feed ’80s Don Draper, which went strong for a couple of years but called it quits in 2015.
Written in a voice similar to Don’s thinking style during pitch meetings, the feed imagines the advertising guru applying his existential thoughts to the fads, brands, and major moments of the “Me” decade.
The sun crests on a new decade. A decade of hope and possibility. A decade that doesn't ask "why" or "how," but only asks "Waaassssup?"
— '80s Don Draper (@80sDonDraper) May 18, 2015
Inside every teen is a wolf just waiting to play basketball.
— '80s Don Draper (@80sDonDraper) April 3, 2015
We yearn for a past we've never known, to walk the streets of our fathers' youth. This device isn’t a Delorian. It’s a time machine.
— '80s Don Draper (@80sDonDraper) February 20, 2015
We need kids to know that unless it's expressed through a bracelet, their friendship is garbage.
— '80s Don Draper (@80sDonDraper) May 23, 2014
The show may be over, but these memes will live on for a long time.