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Top 10 Memes of 2016

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Noah Levy.

What is a meme? A meme is basically any viral videos, images, catchphrases, and web trends that get really popular. And, like anything, the best memes are often the funniest memes. Whether it’s a celebrity meme with a crying Michael Jordan or Sad Ben Affleck, or a random meme like Damn Daniel or Arthur’s Fist, there were many inescapable memes in 2016. WatchMojo counts down the ten most important memes of 2016.

Special thanks to our users Ryan Vollert and fallonfish for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/%20Top%2010%20Memes%20of%202016


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Script written by Noah Levy.

Top 10 Memes of 2016

These provided us with some much-needed moments of levity during a long, hard year. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 memes of 2016.

For this list, we’re looking at Internet trends and other cultural phenomena that took hold of society in 2016 and never let go. Due to the nature of memes, some of these may’ve appeared on reddit or 4chan earlier, but they definitely flew onto our radars IN 2016.

#10: “I’m Rick Harrison…”

The opening voiceover to the History Channel reality series “Pawn Stars” was immortalized this year when it was turned into a Copypasta seemingly overnight by the strange people that control the Internet. This meme works one of two ways: Rick Harrison describing his family’s business can either be used in its original format and pasted anywhere, or it can be themed with any person or character you can think of. One thing we’ve learned after months of this meme: there’s a little Rick Harrison in everyone.

#9: Get You a Man Who Can Do Both

We always hope that our celebrity crushes are well-rounded people, capable of looking classy when they need to, and trashy when the time calls for it. This comparison Copypasta lets us know if our faves are able to go both ways, with the titular phrase usually captioning pairs of celebrity pictures, with one shot of them looking nice and one shot where they look like they’re just taking it easy. Drake was the first to get this treatment, but the meme soon expanded to all types of public figures, including Guy Fieri, Judge Judy, and even Jeb Bush.

#8: Confused Mr. Krabs [aka When You Wake Up from a Nap]

It’s been a banner year for SpongeBob SquarePants memes. The hilarious Primitive SpongeBob was a strong contender for this spot, but we ultimately had to give it to this one: the ultimate meme for anyone who’s ever been confused, panicked or discombobulated. Crafted from a still taken from the SpongeBob episode “Patty Hype,” this meme uses the crustaceous cheapskate as a reaction image for disorientation. Some examples include “when you wake up from a nap and your parents are already yelling at you” or “when your mom leaves you in line to get eggs and the cashier says next.” Of course, this meme met its logical conclusion when someone captioned the image with “When Mr. Krabs finds out everyone’s using his picture and he ain’t making one penny.”

#7: Sad Affleck

It was one of the year’s most anticipated movies, but when “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was pummeled with negative reviews in March 2016, an interview with Ben Affleck and costar Henry Cavill made for a perfect meme. During the interview, the two were asked what they thought about the hate the film had been receiving. While Cavill tried to put on a brave front, Affleck sported a defeated, disappointed face, which the Internet reacted to in one of two ways: 1) they felt sympathy for the Oscar winner, or 2) they saw it as an opportunity for comedic gold. The most popular of the Sad Affleck memes featured a close-up of Affleck’s forlorn face, with Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” playing in the background. And you thought you couldn’t feel worse for Batman…

#6: Damn Daniel

Here we have the second meme in as many years based around footwear. Student Joshua Holz compiled a series of Snapchat videos, wherein he is excitedly complimenting the stylish white Vans his friend Daniel Lara is sporting. To be honest, it’s hard to explain why the clip caught on they way it did, but it probably has to do with Joshua’s tone when commenting on his friend’s sneaks. The duo was later featured on “Ellen,” where Daniel received a lifetime supply of the shoes, which he later donated to a children’s hospital. And of course, Vans took advantage of the video as the best form of free advertising they could get, ultimately using it in their ad campaigns.

#5: Dat Boi

Move over Pepe: this year, Dat Boi proved that the Internet was big enough for more than one meme based around an amphibian. A bunch of different sources came together to create this meme: there’s a crudely animated gif of a frog on a unicycle that was once featured in a physics textbook, the edited screenshot of a news report that coined the name, and the CG image of Pac-Man that spawned the signature catchphrase. You see, when Dat Boi arrives, people usually call out his name and exclaim “O shit waddup!” Hontesly, there’s not much more to say, because essentially, Dat Boi is the concept of memes boiled down to its very essence: nobody can really explain it, but nobody really has a problem with that.

#4: Crying Michael Jordan

This photo of one of the greatest athletes ever tearing up at his Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been circulating the message boards for a couple of years, but 2016 is when it reached its peak. MJ’s tear-filled face is usually photoshopped onto the face (or any other body part) of someone or something that’s going through hard times. We’ve seen it on countless losing athletes, politicians, fictional characters, and even entire countries. Highlights of this meme came when rapper Schoolboy Q used a photoshopped version of the picture – minus any facial features – as a fake cover for his upcoming album, and when the University of North Carolina, Jordan’s alma mater, lost the NCAA Basketball Tournament to Villanova, producing the obvious reaction from the Internet.

#3: 2016 United States Presidential Election

A grueling, unbelievable presidential primary gave way to a grueling, unbelievable general election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and the number of memes generated by that election was staggering. The primaries gave us classics like the Hillary versus Bernie charts, Jeb Bush’s plea for a response from his audience, and the conspiracy theory that’ll never die: that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. Even when the race was down to two, there was no shortage of memorable moments, like sweater-clad undecided voter Ken Bone, Hillary’s iconic Twitter takedown of her opponent, and of course, literally every word that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth. But the fun didn’t stop once the votes were in: Joe Biden’s schemes to troll Donald Trump in a post-Obama White House kept us laughing well past Election Day.

#2: Harambe the Gorilla

On May 28th, 2016, a three-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, where a Western lowland gorilla named Harambe lived. Before the gorilla could harm the boy, zookeepers killed Harambe and the boy was rescued. As is to be expected, this event generated mass outrage and more than a few guilty-humor memes. In fact, Harambe practically became the ultimate meme, generating levels of public attention not gathered by most Internet phenomena. The gorilla’s unfortunate death became a symbol of all the good we’ve lost in the world, prompting tributes, parodies, and even a write-in campaign for the U.S. Election. The pinnacle of these tributes? The “Dicks Out for Harambe” movement. You can probably guess what that entails.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a couple honorable mentions:
- #PhelpsFace [aka Angry Michael Phelps]
- #FreshAvocado [aka Fresh Avocado]
- Hugh Mungus

#1: Arthur’s Fist

In the grand Internet tradition of ruining beloved children’s shows, this PBS Kids series is the latest and possibly greatest to get memed. For a show of its stature and popularity, we’re surprised this didn’t happen sooner, but the Internet more than made up for the delay in 2016 by posting stills of the show with either disassociated or inappropriate captions. But the best Arthur meme 2016 gave us was the reaction meme of Arthur’s Fist. Taken from the episode “Arthur’s Big Hit,” the still of Arthur’s clenched fist is used to represent boiling anger, like when you find out you shaved for nothing, or when your bae reads your text but doesn’t respond. Like the best memes, Arthur’s fist is versatile, and can be photoshopped to represent anything from Luke Skywalker to Mario, or even Donald Trump.

Do you agree with our list? What memes stood out to you the most in 2016? For more dank top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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