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38 Great Memes That Defined 2017

Thanks for the meme-ories.

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1. Distracted Boyfriend

Stock photos were some of the most reliable meme fodder in 2017, but none gained as much prominence as the one that became known as the "Distracted Boyfriend."

After the photo first went viral on Instagram, it absolutely blew up on Twitter. In addition to photoshopping labels onto the models, fans of the meme soon discovered related photos in the photographer's collection and created their own fanfic out of it.

In an interview with the Guardian in August, photographer Antonio Guillem said he "didn’t even know what a meme is until recently."

2. Blinking White Guy

me: ill take a biology class, im smart enough for this just watch me teacher: cells me:

A perfect meme for a year so characterized by near constant incredulity, the "Blinking White Guy" rose to meme fame in February. The man in the GIF is named Drew Scanlon, and his iconic blink came from a gaming video he appeared in in 2013.

"As long as they’re not mean I don’t have a problem with the tweets," Scanlon told BuzzFeed News in February. "I think we need more positivity on the internet these days."

3. The Future That Liberals Want

instagram.com

In March, a photo of a drag queen and a woman in a niqab sitting next to each other on the subway went viral after a now-suspended far-right account tweeted it with the caption, "This is the future that liberals want."

It backfired pretty much immediately, with a ton of people saying, "Uh, yeah. This is awesome. It's exactly what we want." It then turned into a huge meme, with people tweeting the catchphrase along with all sorts of kooky pics.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News in March, the drag queen in the photo, Gilda Wabbit, said, "The clapback against the negative attention from the far-right has been fabulous."

"I won't speak for all liberals, but my goal is for everyone β€” white, brown, drag queen, soccer mom, cisgender, trans, heterosexual, queer, working class, middle class β€” to be able to exist as they choose without judgment or fear," she said.

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4. Cash Me Ousside

THIS IS THE FUNNIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN BAHSJAJSHSJSSMXKDD CASH ME OUSSIDE HOWBOW DAH

When Danielle Bregoli β€” a "car-stealing, knife-wielding, twerking 13-year-old" β€” made her debut on Dr. Phil in late 2016, it was to be a part of an intervention for her shameless misbehavior.

Instead, when she told audience members to "cash me ousside, howbow dah," a meme was born. By early 2017, the girl's catchphrase had become one of the most pervasive memes online.

Since then, Danielle has sold merch, started a rap career, been banned from Spirit Airlines, been placed on probation, and has told Dr. Phil she "made him." Howbow dah?

5. The Babadook Is Gay

happy pride month from queer icon the babadook

Just in time for this year's Pride Month, a spooky new gay icon came out of the meme closet: the titular character of the 2014 horror movie The Babadook (well, according to a widespread internet joke, at least).

The joke originated back in December 2016, when a Tumblr user photoshopped the film into Netflix's LGBT movies category (the image, btw, is often mistaken for a real screenshot). The Babadiscourse continued to heat up on Tumblr for a while, before spreading to Twitter, where it completely took over in June.

People were Babashook. Tons of people dressed up as the Babadook at this year's Pride parades, and it got pretty out of control. Oh, and speaking of "It," a lot of people decided the Babadook and Pennywise are dating. <333

6. Ditty

Amid the rise of the Babadook meme, a new app took Tumblr and Twitter by storm: Ditty, which lets users instantly turn any phrase into a short music video.

Of course, the extremely normal people of the internet quickly found a use for it: declaring nearly every beloved pop culture figure to be "one thicc bih" (a phrase which appears to have originated with this Tumblr post). Song of the summer for 2017 tbh, and you cannot tell me otherwise.

7. Salt Bae

Fortunately, 2017 was not without baes. "Salt Bae," a Turkish steakhouse chef named Nusret Gâkçe, entered our hearts and our feeds just about a week into the year.

Gâkçe became a viral sensation for videos in which he sliced meat and sprinkled salt with panache. He later announced he would open restaurants in Miami and New York City in addition to the six he already owned in Turkey.

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8. Covfefe

You know they're wrestling the phone from him right now

No, sorry, you aren't getting through this list without a Trump meme. On the fateful night of May 30, President Trump posted a now infamous tweet: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe."

Twitter went ballistic trying to figure out what this mysterious "covfefe" might mean. One dad even got the word on a license plate.

Trump eventually deleted the tweet, and (hours later) replaced it with another: "Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe' ??? Enjoy!"

9. Fiona the Hippo

Retweet if you want to see Fiona on the cover of @TIME! #TeamFiona (via Rosemary Mosco &amp; Lisa Hubbard)

Nearly every year has a famous animal or two, and 2017 was no different. In January, a baby hippo named Fiona was born at the Cincinnati Zoo (the same place where Harambe died, RIP).

Whether it was because of some widespread cultural demand for a new animal to stan or just great marketing by the Cincinnati Zoo, Fiona quickly became a sensation. People celebrated her as a body positive icon, and some even called her the "only good thing left in the world." May the queen of neck rolls continue to thrive in 2018.

10. Roll Safe

You can't be broke if you don't check your bank account

Reece "Roll Safe" Simpson (aka actor Kayode Ewumi's character in British web series #HoodDocumentary) starred in one of the biggest memes of the year...and is the ultimate symbol of your best worst decisions.

According to Know Your Meme the image was first used as a meme in November 2016. By the beginning of 2017, it was pretty much everywhere.

11. What in Tarnation

When someone says "you all" instead of "yall" when addressing a group of people

People everywhere went back to their ~country roots~ in 2017, thanks to a reaction pic of a cowboy hat–wearing Shiba Inu with the caption "what in tarnation," which first appeared on Tumblr.

It soon spawned a whole new genre of meme in which people photoshopped cowboy hats onto a whole bunch of stuff and rhymed basically anything they could with "tarnation." Yeehaw.

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12. Mocking SpongeBob

mcdonald's: "our ice cream machine broke" me: "oUR eyeZ kreeM muhSheen broKe"

SpongeBob has a long history of memes, and "Mocking SpongeBob" was the biggest addition of the year. Because there's no better way to mock your enemies than to simply repeat exactly what they say, in a really stupid voice.

The image was first used as a meme on Twitter in May, on an account that is now suspended, according to Know Your Meme.

13. milk and honey

Milk and Honey be like: But when I come around... You don't wanna Post up

Rupi Kaur's poetry book milk and honey came out in 2014, but it had quite the internet reckoning in 2017 when people began accusing it of being plagiarized. The poet's image took an even bigger hit after the Cut wrote a particularly scathing profile of her in October.

The memes were all but inevitable. Lots of people wrote parodies of her short, distinctive poems. In November, a college-aged couple published milk and vine, a spoof of Kaur's book with poems based on famous Vines.

14. Nothing But Respect For My President

stopped to clean @shrek 's hollywood star. nothing but respect for MY president

In July, a college student named Makenna Greenwald went viral after she tweeted photos of herself cleaning President Trump's Hollywood star, which had been vandalized.

"Nothing but respect for MY President," she tweeted, a catchphrase that quickly got the meme treatment.

People began taking photos of themselves cleaning Hollywood stars belonging to a whole range of famous figures, from Shrek to Winona Ryder to Pitbull, and declaring that they, too, had nothing but respect for their presidents.

15. The Ting Goes Skrraa

me: gently adds fries into the pot the oil:

In August, British comedian Michael Dapaah took part in a BBC radio segment that spawned a truly fire track.

"The ting goes skrraa, pap pap ka ka ka," Dapaah rapped. "Skibidi pap pap, and a pu pu drrrr boom."

It was an instant meme classic. It quickly went viral, and people even edited it over other videos, like this one of Big Ben.

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16. Playlists For My Crush

So I made my crush a playlist as a way to tell them that I like them

In April, people began sharing messages via Spotify playlists after a teen broke up with a guy using one. Despite the bummer of a beginning, another woman used the same method a couple weeks later to tell her crush she liked them...and it worked!

It spiraled into a full-on meme after that, with people making playlists with all sorts of hidden messages β€” from personal confessions, to movie quotes, and of course, the lyrics to "All Star."

17. Right In Front Of My Salad

are you guys really defending capitalism? are you serious?? right in front of my salad

And now for the indisputable winner of the best NSFW meme of the year. In August, a gay porn scene β€” in which a woman realizes two men are having sex in the kitchen while she eats salad β€” went viral on Twitter and Tumblr.

The naked-except-for aprons looks, the woman's flawless acting, and her iconic line β€” "Are you guys fucking? Are you serious?! Right in front of my salad?!" β€” made it one of the most hilarious and bizarre memes of the year.

Anyway, here's a link to the porn clip if you're curious, but please be warned it is extremely NSFW because it is literally porn, duh.

18. Expanding Brain

In a year that was frequently quite stupid, few memes better defined ~the discourse~ than one designed to ironically flaunt one's own intellectual superiority.

As Select All's Brian Feldman explained in March, "these memes encompass the many stages of a topic’s life on social media."

"If you like something, you can be sure that someone will pipe up to say, 'Actually, it’s bad, and that makes me smart'; and then someone will pipe up to say, 'Actually it’s good … because it’s bad,'" Feldman wrote.

19. Oh No Baby, What Is You Doing?

me: *begins to catch feelings* my brain:

A new image macro is a rare find these days, but this one β€” which comes from a video by social media stars Dan Rue and Nick Joseph β€” proved immensely popular in 2017.

Whether you're judging yourself or someone else, it became the perfect response to any and all questionable choices. What is you doing???

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20. Cuca

Another anthropomorphic gay icon of the year, Cuca ascended to meme fame in June, just around two weeks after Babadook memes got big.

So, who's Cuca? An alligator-slash-witch with a penchant for blond wigs and cocktail dresses, she's the villain from Sitio do Picapau Amarelo, a Brazilian children's show from the early 2000s, which was based on Brazilian folklore.

Gay Twitter fell in love with her sass and her killer looks, and GIFs of her (often paired with Nicki Minaj lyrics) took over people's timelines all through June. We stan.

21. This Is Just To Say

somebody's sweet plums are crowding my icebox somebody's cold plums are giving me chills

And now for a meme for the English majors. In November, people began writing parodies of "This Is Just To Say," a 1934 poem by William Carlos Williams, by rejigging the lyrics of popular songs.

Anyway....

I have explained

this meme

that is in

my post

And which

you probably

already saw

on your timeline

Forgive me

for explaining the joke

The meme is so weird

and so good

22. "Bad and Boujee"

*hiding from a serial killer* Me: omg I'm gonna die if he finds me Killer: raindrop Me: DROPTOP

"Bad and Boujee" by Migos and Lil Uzi Vert was easily one of the most defining, hear-it-everywhere-you-go songs of the year. May it be a long time before any of us can hear the word "raindrop" without screaming back "DROP TOP."

This one actually started getting memed in the last few days of 2016, but didn't hit peak saturation until January.

23. Living in 3017

We're all living in 2017 while this man is living in 3017

We interrupt this post of 2017 memes to bring you a meme from the future. Starting around May, people began posting pics of the life-hackiest technological innovations the internet has to offer.

"Y’all living in 2017, but this guy already in 3017," people would caption them.

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24. Bella Hadid Goes Sneaker Shopping

homeboy comes through with that consistent support and attention? homeboy is gonna like.... get it.

In October, Bella Hadid appeared in a Complex video in which she talked about her sneaker turn-offs for guys...and it was awkward.

"If homeboy's coming through with these, it's quiet for him," she said. "But if homeboy comes through in like...these. You got some Air Maxes out here, you got some Jordans, homeboy is gonna like...get it."

Naturally, people could not help but roast it and even paired Hadid's quote with some pretty ridiculous pics of shoes.

25. Will Now Have Stories

After Facebook introduced Stories in January β€” following in the footsteps of Snapchat and Instagram β€” people couldn't help but mock how nearly every social media platform seemed destined to do the same.

Who knows? Maybe by the end of 2018, Microsoft Excel, Tamagotchis, vapes, and bananas really will have stories.

26. Alternative Facts

"The bass lines for 'Ice Ice Baby' and 'Under Pressure' are completely different. Period." #SpicerFacts

When Sean Spicer took the podium on Jan. 21 and claimed that Trump had had the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," people immediately called it out as a blatant lie.

By the following day, it had grown into a whole meme β€” especially once Kellyanne Conway doubled down on the lie and claimed Spicer had simply offered "alternative facts."

27. Get Out Challenge

When you in Starbucks &amp; you see a white lady stirring tea: #GetOutChallenge

Get Out was one of the most popular movies of 2017, so naturally it inspired some memes.

In particular, people began making videos they called the #GetOutChallenge. In the videos (which became a trend after this one went viral in March) people would mimic the way the groundskeeper in the movie, Walter, runs super fast before making a sudden sharp turn.

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28. Emoji Sheriff

β € β €β € β €β € 🀠 γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€πŸ’―πŸ’―πŸ’― γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€πŸ’― γ€€πŸ’―γ€€πŸ’― γ€€γ€€γ€€πŸ‘‡πŸ½γ€€ πŸ’―πŸ’―γ€€πŸ‘‡πŸ½ γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€πŸ’―γ€€ πŸ’― γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€πŸ’―γ€€γ€€πŸ’― γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€γ€€ πŸ‘’γ€€γ€€πŸ‘’ howdy. im the sheriff of suckin u off. im gon suck u off

Sometimes the best memes are the ones that make absolutely no sense, especially in a year when absurdist humor so intensely thrived. In June, Brandon Wardell (of "dicks out for Harambe" fame) tweeted the very first Emoji Sheriff, the self-described "sheriff of suckin u off."

It quickly took off as a meme, with people tweeting their very own sheriffs of train emojis, "saving these mf bees," and "respectin women," for example.

29. Zoom In On The Dog's Nose

One of the few (mostly) ~wholesome memes~ of the year, this one acted almost like a game, making people zoom in on images to find a series of instructions: zoom in on the dog's nose, look in the bottom left corner, etc., etc. Eventually, you stumble upon a secret message (this one simply says "you are beautiful").

Of course, the more this meme spread, the more ridiculous (and occasionally less wholesome) people got with it. For example, try this one out.

30. Hold My Beer

PEPSI: We made the biggest PR blunder of any major company this year. UNITED: Hold my beer.

It seemed like every time something bad and stupid happened in 2017, someone would rise from the ashes to do something worse and stupider. Enter "Hold My Beer," a catchphrase that goes back years (there was even a BuzzFeed post about it back in 2014), but became something of a universal punchline this year.

31. The Young Pope

On Jan. 15, HBO premiered a brand-new show: The Young Pope, starring Jude Law as, well, the young pope. In the days before the show had even started, people flooded Twitter with a barrage of jokes about the show.

Unable to get over the strangely funny concept for the show, many people wrote tweets imagining the pitch room, conjecturing what millennial crap the pope would be into, and just straight-up inserting "Young Pope" into song lyrics.

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32. Cracking Open A Cold One With The Boys

Facebook: whoupcrackthatcoldone

"Cracking open a cold one with the boys" first became a meme in 2015, but had a massive resurgence in 2017, mostly thanks to a few popular Australian Facebook pages.

33. The Floor Is Lava

Based on the childhood game you and probably everyone on this Earth used to play, "The Floor Is Lava" became a huge meme in 2017, the "lava" typically being replaced by whatever it is you are avoiding.

34. Student Athletes

me: hi student athlete: yo πŸ€” tf you complaining for πŸ˜€πŸ˜‚ i grind 24/7 πŸ’―β˜πŸ½πŸ€£ you don't see πŸ‘€ me crying πŸ˜³πŸ‘ŒπŸΎβ€ΌοΈ foh lil bitch πŸ˜›πŸ…±οΈπŸ€£

People got really into roasting student athletes this March, usually peppering tweets with a slew of emojis and declarations that they "don't get a break" and stay "chasing dreams." The meme grind never stops. πŸ˜ˆπŸ’―πŸ’¦πŸ’ͺ

35. Monkey Haircut

After a video of a monkey getting a haircut went viral on Facebook, people got to work editing the monkey into other photos, memes, TV scenes, and pretty much anything you can think of.

Nothing like a good photoshop meme, especially when it involves an adorable and well-groomed monkey.

36. Meryl Streep Singing

Missy: "If its worth it then let me work it I put my thang down flip it and reverse it" Me: "IZYURFIMENIPAFLANYANT"

When Debbie Reynolds won the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, Meryl Streep hooted her support. The moment was forever cemented in 2017 through one of the year's most musical memes.

37. Shady Duck

Why does this bird look like she has the tea on EVERYBODY I'm crying

This creature right here is a Muscovy duck, and it was one of the biggest reaction images of the year.

Originating on Russian social media (and unfortunately being maybe photoshopped), the duck's exceptionally shady expression took Tumblr and Twitter by storm in April.

"jesus christ this bird kno my browser history," popular Twitter user @thugtear so eloquently stated.

38. How Much We've Changed Since Election Day 2016

me on election day 2016 vs. me on election day 2017

This was...a long year. It felt perhaps at its longest in November, when people realized it had actually been just a year since Trump was elected.

People shared photos of how much they'd changed in the past year. Some of us are feeling older, some are in a not-so-great place, and some of us are straight-up jonesin' to fight some Nazis. We're all different now.

Anyway, 2017 was a year. Now, onward to a new year, and new memes.

Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Julia Reinstein at julia.reinstein@buzzfeed.com.

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