Though mostly used for trolling, the innocent and inquisitive SmarterChild served as a more subdued BonziBuddy, who just wanted to hang out and chat. Nowadays, SmarterChild is cited as the basis for more intelligent bots like Siri—which we’ve heard can even tell you if it’s raining.
2. “The End of the World”
“The End of the World,” aka “End of ze World,” was originally uploaded to Albino Blacksheep—one of the first Flash user-animation-sharing websites around—and it quickly spread out from there. In fact, many of its catchphrases, like “I am le tired,” are still in use today.
3. “All your base are belong to us”
“All your base are belong to us” can be documented back to the earliest days of (easily accessible) Internet. The broken English phrase was borne out of “all of your bases are under our control” from a 16-bit shooter—1989’s Zero Wing—which was comically mistranslated. It’s been inescapable ever since.
4. Homestar Runner
Conceived as a parody of modern (“dismal”) children’s books, Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel created The Homestar Runner Enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest, which was the only incarnation of the characters until 1999, when Mike’s younger brother, Matt Chapman (“The Brothers Chaps”) took up Flash. Thus, Homestarrunner.com was born, and followed hundreds of animated videos of Homestar, Strong Bad, Mr. Bland, Señor, The Cheat, and more. Oh, and of course, Trogdor…
Hip and not annoying for all of a week, BonziBuddy was “intelligent” software that would interact with you and your computer, and could supposedly do all of the above. Unfortunately, most of the time, you could personally do all of those things better than he could automatically. Sorry, Buddy.
Kazaa was really the last attempt to keep peer-to-peer file-sharing networks afloat after the shutdown of Napster earlier in the same year (2001). It was popular enough that you could get the newest hits (like “Thank You” by Dido), but esoteric enough that you could still find “Yoda Farts.”
7. Badger Badger Badger
Badger Badger Badger taught us all that in order to have fun, you really don’t need more than a bunch of badgers doing calisthenics, a couple’a mushrooms being introduced intimidatingly, and a snake in the desert.
Ah, LiveJournal. So many regrettable posts. So much drama. In middle school. Now mostly used by Russian political pundits, back in its heyday everyone who was anyone had a LiveJournal that they used to vaguely insult their classmates and cohort as well as the occasional post about being hopelessly, helplessly in love. All at the tender age of 13.
9. Dancing Baby
The only people who don’t know about the Dancing Baby these days are actual babies. “Baby Cha-Cha” was born for use in a video of a baby dancing to the intro of “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede, but he (or she!) didn’t stop there. The Dancing Baby went onto become one of the most popular, and first, viral (in email chains, ugh) gifs—back when no one really knew what they were.
Featuring adorably plump and well-dressed “hampsters,” Hampster Dance was one of the first pieces of content created wholly on the Internet that eventually spread beyond a meme into the mainstream consciousness. It set the precedent for animal content going totally vi, and also proved, once again, that even generally “bad” songs all have their place in cyberspace.