Social and cultural phenomena specific to the Internet include Internet memes, such as popular themes, catchphrases, images, viral videos, and jokes. When such fads and sensations occur online, they tend to grow rapidly and become more widespread because the instant communication facilitates word of mouth transmission.
The below partial list focuses more on Internet phenomena that is not restricted by regional Internet laws; other countries such as China or Pakistan do have Internet phenomena specific there that is not blocked by regional laws. Other regional Internet phenomena in countries with restricted regional laws are covered in List of Internet phenomena in China and List of Internet phenomena in Pakistan.
Elf Yourself (2006) and its related Scrooge Yourself (2007) are both interactivewebsites created by Jason Zada and Evolution Bureau for OfficeMax's holiday seasonadvertising campaign. Elf Yourself allows visitors to upload images of themselves or their friends, see them as dancing elves, and includes options to post the created video to other sites or save it as a personalized mini-film. According to ClickZ, visiting the Elf Yourself site "has become an annual tradition that people look forward to". While not selling any one specific product, the two were created to raise consumer awareness of the sponsoring firm.
FreeCrReport.com – A series of TV commercials that were posted on the Internet; many spoofs of the commercials were made and posted on YouTube.
HeadOn – A June 2006 advertisement for a homeopathic product claimed to relieve headaches. Ads featured the tagline, "HeadOn. Apply directly to the forehead", stated three times in succession, accompanied by a video of a model using the product without ever directly stating the product's purpose. The ads were successively parodied on sites such as YouTube and rapperLil Jon even made fun of it.
"Mac Tonight/Moon Man" – A McDonald's commercial made to promote dinner sales. Starting in 2007, the character in the commercial, "Mac Tonight" was utilized in videos where he is depicted promoting violence against minorities and promoting the KKK with racist parodies of rap songs. The best-known parody, "Notorious KKK" (a parody of Hypnotize by The Notorious B.I.G.), has accumulated over 119,000 views on YTMND.
"Nope, Chuck Testa" – A local commercial made for Ojai Valley Taxidermy, owned by Chuck Testa, suggesting that the stuffed creatures were alive until Testa appeared, saying "Nope, Chuck Testa!"; the ad soon went viral.
Will It Blend? – The blender product Blendtec, claimed by its creator Tom Dickson to be the most powerful blender, is featured in a series of YouTube videos, "Will It Blend?" where numerous food and non-food items are used within the blender.
Xtranormal – A website allowing users to create videos by scripting the dialog and choosing from a menu of camera angles and predesigned CGI characters and scenes. Though originally designed to be used to ease storyboard development for filmmakers, the site quickly became popular after videos made with the tool, including "iPhone 4 vs HTC Evo", became viral.
Animation and comics
Animutations – Early Flash-based animations, pioneered by Neil Cicierega in 2001, typically featuring foreign language songs (primary Japanese, such as "Yatta"), set to random pop-culture images. The form is said to have launched the use of Flash for inexpensive animations that are now more common on the Internet.
Arthur – A 1996 PBS educational series that became popular on the Internet in July 2016 through humorous stills, including a still of the title character's clenched fist.
Ate my balls – One of the earliest examples of an internet meme, which involved web pages depicting a particular celebrity, fictional character, or other subject's relish for eating testicles.
Axe Cop – Initially a web comic series with stories created by five-year-old Malachai Nicolle and drawn into comic form by his 29-year-old brother Ethan, the series gained viral popularity on the Internet due to the vividness and non-sequitur nature of Malachai's imagination, and has led to physical publication and a series of animated shorts in the 2012–2013 season for the Fox Television Network.
Big Chungus – A still frame of the 1941 Merrie Melodies short Wabbit Twouble when Bugs Bunny mocks a fat Elmer Fudd. The meme originated from fictitious cover art for a video game titled Big Chungus (with "chungus" being a neologism associated with video game commentator Jim Sterling), which featured a still from the scene, and was popularized by a Facebook post by a GameStop manager who alleged that a colleague's mother had inquired about purchasing the "game" as a gift.
Bongo Cat – Originated on Twitter on 7 May 2018 when a simple animated cat GIF, was ed for it to play the song "Athletic" from the Super Mario World soundtrack. This cat has since been ed to play various songs on bongos, and later other instruments.
"Caramelldansen" – A spoof from the Japanese visual novel opening Popotan that shows the two main characters doing a hip swing dance with their hands over their heads, imitating rabbit ears, while the background song plays the sped-up version of the song "Caramelldansen", sung by the Swedish music group Caramell. Also known as Caramelldansen Speedycake Remix or Uma uma dance in Japan, the song was parodied by artists and fans who then copy the animation and include characters from other anime performing the dance.
Charlie the Unicorn – A four-part series of videos involving a unicorn who is repeatedly hoodwinked by two other unnamed unicorns, colored blue and pink, who take him on elaborate adventures in order to steal his belongings or cause him physical harm.
I'll take a potato chip... and eat it!!! – A scene from the English-language dub of episode 8 of the anime adaptation of Death Note, showing the main character Light Yagami taking a potato chip from a bag of chips and eating the chip.
Polandball – A user-generated Internet meme which originated on the /int/ board of German imageboard Krautchan.net in the latter half of 2009. The meme is manifested in a large number of online comics, where countries are presented as spherical personas that interact in often broken English, poking fun at national stereotypes and international relations, as well as historical conflicts.
Pusheen – An animated grey tabby cat, originally drawn as a character in the webcomic "Everyday Cute" by artists Clare Belton and Andrew Duff. Belton has since released a Pusheen book.
Rage comics – A large set of pre-drawn images including crudely drawn stick figures, clip art, and other artwork, typically assembled through website generators, to allow anyone to assemble a comic and post to various websites and boards. The New York Times reports that thousands of these are created daily. Typically these are drawn in response to a real-life event that has angered the comic's creator, hence the term "rage comics", but comics assembled for any other purpose are also made. Certain images from rage comics are known by specific titles, such as "trollface" (a widely grinning man), "forever alone" (a man crying to himself), or "rage guy" (a man shouting "FUUUUU...").
Salad Fingers – A Flash animation series surrounding a schizophrenic green man in a desolate world populated mostly by deformed, functionally mute people.
"This is fine" – A two-panel comic drawn in 2013 by KC Green as part of the Gunshow webcomic, showing an anthropomorphic dog sitting in a room on fire, and saying "This is fine". The comic emerged as a meme in 2016, used in situations, as described by The New York Times, "halfway between a shrug and complete denial of reality". Numerous derivatives of the "This is fine" comic have been made.
Ultra Instinct Shaggy – A character interpretation that Shaggy Rogers is immensely more powerful than he presents himself. The meme is usually presented as still frames of a behind-the-scenes interview of the Scooby-Doo movie with subtitles implying that Shaggy is restraining his power to prevent catastrophe.
Weebl and Bob – A series of flash cartoons created by Jonti Picking featuring two egg-shaped characters that like pie and speak in a stylistic manner.
xkcd – A webcomic created by Randall Munroe, popularized on the Internet due to a high level of math-, science- and geek-related humor, with certain jokes being reflected in real-life, such as using Wikipedia's "" tag on real world signs or the addition of an audio preview for YouTube comments.
These generally feature Internet users recording themselves taking a challenge and then distributing the resulting video through social media sites, often inspiring or daring other users to repeat the challenge.
Banana Sprite Challenge – a challenge to quickly eat two bananas and drink one can of Sprite without vomiting. There are other versions of the challenge, but the suggested premise is that the body cannot digest both substances at the same time. While the vomit response is commonly assumed to be a chemical reaction between the two foods, the reaction may also occur due simply to the large amount of food and drink ingested within a short period. Dietitian Heather Boline observes that the human stomach can only hold around two cups, saying "Too much food or liquid in your stomach if your stomach doesn’t have that capability can make you vomit." Thus, the vomiting response is likely due to the volume of food and drink being higher than the volume of the stomach.
Bird Box Challenge – For its film Bird Box, where a significant plot element has characters keeping themselves blindfolded to prevent going insane, Netflix partnered with Twitch streamers to challenge them to play video games blindfolded. However, the challenge morphed into people attempting everyday activities fully blindfolded while being recorded, which included attempting to cook, walk in busy streets, and drive cars. Several of these videos have gone viral, but others repeating the challenges have gotten themselves into a number of non-fatal injuries. Netflix and law officials have issued warnings that people should only perform Bird Box challenges in safe, isolated places to eliminate the potential to injure themselves and others.
Bottle Cap Challenge – A martial arts challenge where one must kick the bottle cap off without knocking over the bottle itself.
Cameron Boyce Challenge – After Cameron Boyce passed away at age 20, a new challenge became trending as folks mimicked the symptoms of epileptic seizure that led to his death. Fans called out this challenge as obscene, considering it an insult to his immediate family and to everyone with epilepsy.
Charlie Charlie Challenge – A ouija-emulating ritual in which the spirit of a Mexican demon named "Charlie" is invoked via two pencils in the shape of a cross and the words "yes" and "no" written on paper in a square. Social media users began circulating videos of pencils moving to the word "yes" when asking if the demon is present.
Cheesed Challenge – a recent Twitter trend. Parents film themselves tossing cheese slices at their babies with controversial results.
Cinnamon challenge – a viral Internet food challenge. The objective of the challenge is to film oneself swallowing a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything, then upload the video to the Internet. The challenge is difficult and carries substantial health risks because the cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, resulting in coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and risk of pneumonia or a collapsed lung.
Condom challenge – a viralInternetchallenge. The challenge involves inserting a latex condom into the nostril and snorting it into the nasal cavity and back through the throat to be coughed out of the mouth. The term "condom challenge" was coined in May 2012 following the widespread popularity of the cinnamon challenge, but the idea is several years old and videos of challenge attempts date to at least 2007. The challenge went viral in April 2013, when WorldStarHipHop posted a video of two young women attempting the challenge, and several people subsequently uploaded videos onto the Internet of themselves attempting the challenge. The stunt poses potential choking hazards.
Coronavirus Challenge – the challenge involves licking various surfaces such as door handles and even public toilet bowls. At least one person who took the challenge was reported to have contracted COVID-19.
Eraser Challenge – a kids trend where one rubs an eraser on their bare skin as hard as they can while reciting the English alphabet. While that may sound like a fun school activity, it can cause painful burns and scars to the skin, possibly with infections as well, thus leading to parental concerns.
Fire Challenge – an activity which refers to the application of flammable liquids to one's body and then setting the liquids aflame, while being video recorded. The aftermath is then posted to social media sites. Firefighters, police officers and media sources have chastised and spoken out against the activity, hoping to dissuade individuals from trying it due to its harmful nature.
Gallon Smashing – A challenge which surfaced on YouTube in 2013, Gallon smashing involves obtaining bottles of liquid in a supermarket (usually cow's milk or water) and then throwing them against the floor and spilling their contents in such a way that the act is seen to be accidental rather than deliberate. The participant may attempt to damage other objects as they throw the bottles, or fall into the resultant spill and seek the assistance of customers to help them up. Participants of this challenge often sustain injuries and frequently face punishment from legal authorities, including the two teenagers who originally started the phenomenon.
Ice Bucket Challenge – A charity-driven effort where a person "tags" three other people over social media, challenging them either to donate $100 to the ALS Association, or to otherwise douse themselves with a bucket of ice-cold water while filming themselves as well as making a smaller donation and tagging three others with the same challenge. As the challenge propagated, it tagged various celebrities and people with large numbers of social followers, causing the challenge to grow in a viral manner.
Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge – Based on trying to recreate the puffy lips of television star Kylie Jenner, Internet users show themselves using a small vessel like a shotglass that covers their lips, drawing all the air out of the vessel, and then releasing, which temporarily puffs the lips by drawing the user's blood into them. The activity is considered harmful, both from bruising and dis-figuration of the lips, and the potential for the vessel to shatter and cut the person.
Outlet Challenge – One year after YouTube announced its ban on extremely dangerous challenges videos, users migrated to TikTok to share their videos of the new viral challenge. People have partially plugged in their phone chargers into outlets, then slid pennies into the gap between the phone charger and the electrical socket, resulting in electrical fire hazards, which authorities warned individuals about.
Sailor Moon redraw challenge – An challenge on the entire that does an redraw on the pop character Sailor Moon from the series of the same name either having scenes of her drawn in different art styles or having another fictional character take her place in the scene which first appeared in the early 2020s.
Salt and ice challenge – Internet phenomenon wherein participants pour salt on their bodies, usually on the arm and ice is then placed on the salt. This causes a "burning" sensation, and participants vie to withstand the pain for the longest time. The challenge is recorded and posted on YouTube or other forms of social media.
Skull Breaker Challenge – A challenge originating on TikTok that went viral in February 2020. The challenge involves two people convincing another person to jump, and then kick their legs out, causing the person jumping to fall on their head. Several people have been hospitalized after performing this challenge.
Tide Pod Challenge – Similar to other eating challenges, this saw people attempt to eat Tide Pods, small packets filled with laundry detergent and other chemicals that normally dissolve while in a washing machine. The challenge gained attention in late 2017 and early 2018, and quickly was addressed by several health-related organizations, as the chemicals in the packet are poisonous and toxic to humans. These agencies sought to warn users and strongly discourage the challenge after dozens of cases of poisoning were reported within the first few weeks of 2018, while YouTube took action to remove videos related to the challenge to further stop its spread.
Yoga Challenge – A continuing YouTube video trend that first went viral during the summer of 2014 involving participants who attempt to perform a series of acroyoga poses that are taken from the internet. Typically, participants are not trained in yoga, which results in humorous outcomes (awkward stances, falling down, etc.). These attempts are captured on film, usually on a smartphone or tablet camera, and uploaded to YouTube. Usually, prior to attempting a pose, participants will show an image of the correct pose they are attempting to the camera using a second phone or tablet (or by adding the image in during video ing). The contrast between correct poses by professionals and incorrect poses by amateurs adds to the humor. YouTuber Alfie Deyes posted a video titled The Yoga Challenge! in June 2014 which may have set off the trend. Deyes' video may have been inspired by various popular "couples stunts" and "yoga fail" videos by channels such as BFvsGF posted as early as 2012. BFvsGF themselves affirmed the trend by posting a video titled "Acro Yoga Challenge" in July 2014. The "challenge" form factor may stem from the "30-Day yoga challenge" that was a popular fitness vlogging trend on YouTube as early as the mid 2000s.
Coffin Dance/Dancing Pallbearers – A group of Ghana pallbearers that respectfully dance during funeral processions had been covered by the BBC in 2017 and gained some initial Internet popularity. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a popular TikTok video mashed the BBC footage with the EDM song "Astronomia" from Russian artist Tony Igy, creating a meme that appeared to spread as a morbidly humorous reminder about the dangers of COVID-19.
"Dab" – A dance move where a person drops their head into a bent, slanted arm, with the other arm out straight and parallel.
Hampster Dance – A page filled with hamsters dancing, linking to other animated pages. It spawned a fictional band complete with its own CD album release.
Harlem Shake – A video based on Harlem shake dance, originally created by YouTube personality Filthy Frank and using an electronica version of the song by Baauer. In such videos, one person is dancing or acting strange among a room full of others going about routine business. After the drop in the song and a video cut, everyone starts dancing or acting strangely. The attempts to recreate the dance led to a viral spread on YouTube.
"Hit the Quan" – A viral dance challenge to the song "Hit the Quan" by American rapper iLoveMemphis. Rich Homie Quan originally performed this dance in his music video for his song "Flex (Ooh, Ooh, Ooh)". iLoveMemphis produced the "Hit The Quan" based around Rich Homie Quan's dance. iLoveMemphis' song launched the "Hit the Quan" viral dance challenge because of its convenient lyrics to dance to. "Hit the Quan" reached as high as 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart because of the popularity of the dance. The dance challenge was very popular on social media platforms, especially Vine, which looped 6 second long videos. Dance challenges and social media provides the whole community with something that everybody can be a part of if they so choose. Many celebraties participated in the popular dance challenge.
"Kiki Challenge" – A viral dance challenge to the song "In My Feelings" by Drake. This challenge was started by a comedian named Shiggy on the night that Drake released the album Scorpion. Shiggy posted a video of himself on his Instagram account dancing along to part of the lyrics in what looks like in the middle of a neighborhood street. Shiggy commented #DoTheShiggy which is another name for the dance challenge. Drake claims the success of the song was due to Shiggy's popular dance to his song. The dance challenge is often filmed with a twist of the original. The most popular twist of the dance is filmed from the passenger side of a moving vehicle through the open driver door where the would be driver is dancing moves along with the slowly moving car. This challenge received a lot of controversy due to the fact nobody was in control of the car. Performers have received fines and sometimes suffered injury. This viral dance challenge was performed by a number of professional athletes and celebrities. The dance challenge was performed by people in the U.S. and spread to the rest of the world, providing a platform for dance inclusion.
T-pose – A surrealist "dance move" that became popular in April 2018 modeled after the default pose (also known as a bind pose) that many 3D models in games, animations, and more take in their raw file form. Originally popularized by a YouTube video titled "Y'all mind if I hit that T-pose?" uploaded on 15 June 2017 by YouTuber Spacemace.
Bill Gates Email Beta Test – An email chain-letter that first appeared in 1997 and still circulates. The message claims that America Online and Microsoft are conducting a beta test and for each person you forward the email to, you will receive a payment from Bill Gates of more than $200. Realistic contact information for a lawyer appears in the message.
Goodtimes virus – An infamous, fraudulent virus warning that first appeared in 1994. The email claimed that an email virus with the subject line "Good Times" was spreading, which would "send your CPU into a nth-complexity infinite binary loop", among other dire predictions.
Lighthouse and naval vessel urban legend – Purportedly an actual transcript of an increasingly heated radio conversation between a U.S. Navy ship and a Canadian who insists the naval vessel change a collision course, ending in the punchline. This urban legend first appeared on the Internet in its commonly quoted format in 1995, although versions of the story predate it by several decades. It continues to circulate; the Military Officers Association of America reported in 2011 that it is forwarded to them an average of three times a day. The Navy has a page specifically devoted to pointing out that many of the ships named weren't even in service at the time.
MAKE.MONEY.FAST – One of the first spam messages that was spread primarily through Usenet, or even earlier BBS systems, in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The original email is attributed to an individual who used the name "Dave Rhodes", who may or may not have existed. The message is a classic pyramid scheme – you receive an email with a list of names and are asked to send $5 by postal mail to the person whose name is at the top of the list, add your own name to the bottom, and forward the updated list to a number of other people.
Neiman Marcus Cookie recipe – An email chain-letter dating back to the early 1990s, but originating as Xeroxlore, in which a person tells a story about being ripped off for over $200 for a cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus. The email claims the person is attempting to exact revenge by passing the recipe out for free.
Nigerian Scam/419 scam – A mail scam attempt popularized by the ability to send millions of emails. The scam claims the sender is a high-ranking official of Nigeria with knowledge of a large sum of money or equivalent goods that they cannot claim but must divest themselves of it; to do so, they claim to require a smaller sum of money up front to access the sum to send to the receiver. The nature of the scam has mutated to be from any number of countries, high-ranking persons, barristers, or relationships to said people.
Bee Movie (2007) – Sped-up or slowed-down clips of the film have become popular on YouTube. One upload by "Avoid at All Costs" exceeded 12 million views as of December 2016. The video and videos like it were taken down by YouTube in June 2017. From September 2013 onwards, a few Internet users posted the entirety of the Bee Movie script on sites like Tumblr and Facebook.
Downfall (2004) – A film depicting Adolf Hitler (portrayed in this film by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz) during his final days of his life. Multiple scenes in which Hitler rants in German have been parodied innumerable times on the Internet, including when Hitler finds out that Felix Steiner has failed to carry out his orders and when Hitler finds out SS-GruppenführerHermann Fegelein has gone AWOL. This scene often has its English subtitles replaced by mock subtitles to give the appearance that Hitler is ranting about modern, often trivial topics, and sometimes even breaks the fourth wall by referencing the Internet meme itself. While the clips are frequently removed for copyright violations, the film's director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, has stated that he enjoys them, and claimed to have seen about 145 of them.
LazyTown (2004) – a children's television program originating from Iceland, which became very popular after one of the primary actors Stefán Karl Stefánsson was diagnosed with cancer and set up a GoFundMe page to support him. The song We are Number One became a meme in October 2016, and many videos were created. It became one of the fastest growing memes in history, with 250 videos uploaded in 5 days.
Marble Hornets is a documentary-style horror, suspense short film series based on alternate reality experiences of the Slenderman tale. Marble Hornets was instrumental in codifying parts of the Slender Man mythos, but is not part of the intercontinuity crossover that includes many of the blogs and vlogs that followed it, although MH does feature in other canons as either a chronicle of real events or a fictional series.
Re-cut trailer – User-made trailers for established films, using scenes, voice-overs, and music, to alter the appearance of the film's true genre or meaning or to create a new, apparently seamless, film. Examples include casting the thriller-drama The Shining into a romantic comedy, or using footage from the respective films to create Robocop vs. Terminator.
The Room (2003) – Written, produced, directed, and starring Tommy Wiseau, the low budget independent film is considered one of the worst films ever made, but through social media and interest from comedians, gained a large number of ironic fans while further becoming a popular source for memes based on some of the poorly delivered lines in the movie, such as "You're tearing me apart, Lisa!" (a shoehorned reference to an iconic James Dean line in Rebel Without a Cause) and "Oh Hi, Mark"
Sharknado (2013) – A made-for-television film produced by The Asylum and aired on the SyFy network as a mockbuster of other disaster films, centered on the appearance of a tornado filled with sharks in downtown Los Angeles. Though similar to other films from the Asylum, the combination of elements within the film, such as low-budget specific effects and choice of actors, led to the film becoming a social media hit and leading to at least four additional sequels.
Shrek – A DreamWorks franchise that had an internet fandom who ironically liked the series. The viral video, "Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life", was based on a homoerotic story on 4chan depicting the titular ogre engaging in anal sex with a (presumably young) boy.
Snakes on a Plane (2006) – Attracted attention a year before its planned release, and before any promotional material was released, due to the film's working title, its seemingly absurd premise, and the piquing of actor Samuel L. Jackson's interest to work on the film. Producers of the film responded to the Internet buzz by adding several scenes and dialogue imagined by the fans.
The Three Bears (1939) is an animated short film made by Terrytoons based on the story Goldilocks and the Three Bears. One of the scenes from the short depicting Papa Bear saying "Somebody toucha my spaghet!" in a stereotypical thick Italian accent became an internet meme in December 2017.
"The cake is a lie", based on the false promise of a Black Forest cake as a reward, is popularized from the video game series Portal.
Among Us - A game made by game studio Innersloth released on Steam in 2018, about you and your crewmates trying to find the Imposter among your crew trying to kill you all. The game reached internet fame in 2020 due to the release of The Henry Stickmin Collection by the same developer, and by Twitch streamers streaming the game frequently. Stills from the game, saying things like "Emergency Meeting" and "Dead body reported" have been on many modern memes. Frequent things that happen in the game, like the Imposter lying about who to kick out, or people trying to sabatoge their crewmates, have also gotten popular in modern memes. 
But can it run Crysis? – A question often asked by PC gaming and hardware enthusiasts. When released in 2007, Crysis was extremely taxing on computer hardware, with even the most advanced consumer graphics cards of the time unable to provide satisfactory frame rates when the game was played on its maximum graphical settings. As a result, this question is asked as a way of judging a certain computer's capability at gaming.
Can it run Doom? – A common joke question with any hardware that has a CPU. It has even gotten to the point where people are developing source ports of the game to unconventional hardware such as a Canon printer, the Commodore VIC-20, the Smart Bar on the 2016 MacBook Pro, a smart fridge, an ATM, and the game itself among other things.
Flappy Bird – a free-to-playcasualmobile game released on the iOS App Store on 24 May 2013, and on Google Play on 30 January 2014, by indie mobile app developer Dong Nguyen. The game began rapidly rising in popularity in late-December 2013 to January 2014 with up to 50 million downloads by 5 February. On 9 February, Nguyen removed the game from the mobile app stores citing negative effects of the game's success on his health and its addictiveness to players. Following the game's removal from the app stores, numerous clones and derivatives of the game were released with varying similarities to the original game.
I Love Bees – An alternate reality game that was spread virally after a one-second mention inside a Halo 2 advertisement. Purported to be a website about Honey Bees that was infected and damaged by a strange Artificial Intelligence, done in a disjointed, chaotic style resembling a crashing computer. At its height, over 500,000 people were checking the website every time it updated.
"I Took An Arrow in the Knee" – City guards in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim repeat the line: "I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee". The latter part of this phrase quickly took off as a catchphrase and a snowclone in the form of "I used to X, but then I took an arrow in the knee" with numerous image macros and video parodies created. It was mentioned in an episode of NCIS.
Leeroy Jenkins – A World of Warcraft player charges into a high-level dungeon with a distinctive cry of "Leeeeeeeerooooy... Jeeenkins!", ruining the meticulous attack plans of his group and getting them all killed.
Let's Play – Videos created by video game players that add their commentary and typically humorous reactions atop them playing through a video game. These videos have created a number of Internet celebrities who have made significant money through ad revenue sharing, such as PewDiePie who earned over $12 million from his videos in 2015.
Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.
Mafia City – A mobile game that has become infamous for its odd advertising involving a person drastically increasing their stats for doing various mob-related activities, and for the phrase "That's how mafia works".
Portal/Portal 2 – The popular video games Portal and its sequel, both written with black humor undertones, introduced several Internet memes, including the phrase "the cake is a lie", and the space-obsessed "Space Core" character.
QWOP's title refers to the four keyboard keys used to move the muscles of the sprinter avatar
QWOP – A browser based game requiring the player to control a sprint runner by using the Q, W, O, and P keys to control the runner's limbs. The game is notoriously difficult to control, typically leaving the runner character flailing about. The concept developed into memes based on the game, as well as describing real-life mishaps as attributable to QWOP.
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon – A trivia/parlor game based around linking an actor to Kevin Bacon through a chain of co-starring actors in films, television, and other productions, with the hypothesis that no actor was more than six connections away from Bacon, similar to the theory of six degrees of separation or the Erdős number in mathematics. The game was created in 1994, just at the start of the wider spread of Internet use, populated further with the creation of movie database sites like IMDb, and since has become a board game and contributed towards the field of network science.
Sonic the Hedgehog – A video game series created by Sega that has spawned multiple memes, such as Sanic, a purposely misdrawn Sonic that has been referenced by Sega themselves, and used in merchandise; "Sonic says '__________'", a "shitpost meme" where Sonic (or any other character) says something Sega wouldn't have him say (e.g. "Sonic Says 'If your profile picture is from an anime, your opinion is invalid.'"); and "Ugandan Knuckles," a meme that gained high popularity thanks to the social game VRChat, where players with a crude Knuckles model asked other players if they "knew da wae" ("know the way"), who their "queen" was, clicking their tongue, and spitting repeatedly.
Surgeon Simulator 2013 – An absurd, unrealistic surgical simulation game with game play consisting of the player attempting to perform various surgical procedures, either in an operating room or an ambulance, using difficult controls similar to those of the game QWOP. Initially created by Bossa Studios in a 48-hour period for the 2013 Global Game Jam and released in January 2013, the game was further developed and later released as a full version via Steam in April 2013.
Surprised Pikachu – An image of the Pokémon Pikachu with a blank look and an open mouth. It is used as a reaction image to show either shock or lack therof.
Twitch Plays Pokémon – An "experiment" and channel created by an anonymous user on the Twitch live streaming video site in February 2014. Logged-in viewers to the channel can enter commands corresponding to the physical inputs used in the JRPG video game Pokémon Red into the chat window, which are collected and parsed by a chat software robot that uses the commands to control the main character in the game, which is then live-streamed from the channel. The stream attracted more than 80,000 simultaneous players with over 10 million views with a week of going live, creating a chaotic series of movements and actions within the game and a number of original memes and derivative fan art. The combination has been called an entertainment hybrid of "a video game, live video and a participatory experience," which has inspired similar versions for other games.
U R MR GAY – a message allegedly hidden in the Super Mario Galaxy box art, which appears when each letter not decorated with a star is removed from the art. It was first noticed by a NeoGAF poster in September 2007. Video game journalists have debated as to whether the message was placed on purpose or was simply a humorous coincidence.
Untitled Goose Game – A 2019 video game developed by Australian game studio House House, in which the player controls a goose causing mischief in an English village. An early teaser for the game in 2017 led to strong interest in the title, and on release, the game quickly became an Internet meme.
Baby mugging and Baby suiting: MommyShorts blogger Ilana Wiles began posting pictures of babies in mugs, and later adult business suits, both of which led to numerous others doing the same.
Babylonokia is a clay tablet shaped like a mobile phone. Fringe scientists and alternative archaeology proponents subsequently misrepresented a photograph of the artwork as showing an 800-year-old archaeological find; that story was popularised in a video on the YouTube channel Paranormal Crucible and led to the object being reported by some press sources as a mystery.
Blue waffle: An Internet hoax originating in 2010 purporting an unknown sexually transmitted disease affecting only women, causing severe infection and blue discoloration to the vagina. The disease has been confirmed as false. Kathy McBride, a New Jersey councilwoman, cited it in a city council meeting, not realizing that it was a hoax.
#BreakTheInternet: The November 2014 issue of Paper included a cover image of Kim Kardashian in a partially nude pose, exposing her buttocks, taken by photographer Jean-Paul Goude, with the caption "#breaktheinternet", as the magazine desired to set a record in social media response from it. Several other photos from the shoot were also released, including one that mimicked one that Goude took for his book Jungle Fever involving a "campaign incident". Paper's campaign set a record for hits for their site, and the photographs became part of Internet memes.
Brian Peppers: In 2005, a photo surfaced of a man named Brian Peppers, noted for his appearance, which suggests Apert syndrome or Crouzon syndrome. Found on the Ohio sex offender registry website, the photo gained traction after being shared on website YTMND. Peppers died in 2012 at the age of 43.
Crasher Squirrel: A photograph by Melissa Brandts of a squirrel which popped up into a timer-delayed shot of Brandts and her husband while vacationing in Banff National Park, Canada, just as the camera went off. The image of the squirrel has since been added into numerous images on the Internet.
Cursed images: Images (usually photographs) that are perceived as odd or disturbing due to their content, poor quality or both.
Dog shaming: Originating on Tumblr, these images feature images of dogs photographed with signs explaining what antics they recently got up to.
Doge: Images of dogs, typically of the Shiba Inus, overlaid with simple but poor grammatical expressions, typically in the Comic Sans MS font, gaining popularity in late 2013. The meme saw an ironic resurgence towards the end of the decade, and was recognised by multiple media outlets as one of the most influential memes of the 2010s. The meme has also spawned Dogecoin, a form of cryptocurrency.
The Dress: An image of a dress posted to Tumblr that, due to how the photograph was taken, created an optical illusion where the dress would either appear white and gold, or blue and black. Within 48 hours, the post gained over 400,000 notes and was later featured on many different websites.
Ecce Homo / Ecce Mono / Potato Jesus: An attempt in August 2012 by a local woman to restore Elías García Martínez's aging fresco of Jesus in Borja, Spain led to a botched, amateurish, monkey-looking image, leading to several image-based memes.
Grumpy Cat: A cat named Tardar Sauce that appears to have a permanent scowl on her face due to feline dwarfism, according to its owner. Pictures of the cat circulated the Internet, leading it to win the 2013 Webby for Meme of the Year, and her popularity has led her to star in a feature film. Tardar Sauce died on 14 May 2019.
Hide the Pain Harold: A Hungarian electrical engineer named András Arató became a meme after posing for stock photos on the websites iWiW and Dreamstime. He initially wasn't very satisfied with his popularity, but has grown to accept it. He realized he did similar things when he was younger such as drawing on Hungarian poet John Arany's portraits, making him look like a pirate. The meme depicts photos of Arató smiling, while viewers believe the smile masks serious sorrow and pain, hence the name "Hide the Pain Harold".
Seriously McDonalds: A photograph apparently showing racist policies introduced by McDonald's. The photograph, which is a hoax, went viral, especially on Twitter, in June 2011.
Success Kid: An image of a baby who is clenching his fist while featuring a determined look on his face.
Trash Doves: A sticker set of a purple bird for iOS, Facebook messenger, Facebook comments, and other messaging apps created by Syd Weiler. The animated headbanging pigeon from the sticker set started to go viral in Thailand and it became globally viral on social media.
Tron Guy: Jay Maynard, a computer consultant, designed a Tron costume, complete with skin-tight spandex and light-up plastic armor, in 2003 for Penguicon 1.0 in Detroit, Michigan. The Internet phenomenon began when an article was posted to Slashdot, followed by Fark, including images of this costume.
Vancouver Riot Kiss: An image of a young couple lying on the ground kissing each other behind a group of rioters during the riots following the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins on 15 June 2011. The couple, later identified as Australian Scott Jones and local resident Alexandra Thomas, actually were not kissing but Jones was consoling Thomas after being knocked down by a police charge.
Woman yelling at a cat: Also known as the Cat Meme, it consists of a screenshot of the members of the television show The Real Housewives of Beverly HillsTaylor Armstrong and Kyle Richards (showing Armstrong shouting and pointing with the finger), followed by a photo of a confused cat (identified as Smudge) sitting behind a table with food. The meme emerged in mid-2019, when Twitter users joined the photos and included texts that looked like a mockery of the cat to the angry woman.
"You are not immune to propaganda.": A glitch art representation of Garfield, with the caption "You are not immune to propaganda" surrounding it.
Salt Bae – Turkish chef and restaurateur Nusret Gökçe earned fame in 2017 for his camera-friendly approach to preparing and seasoning meat, including a video in 2017 which he sprinkles salt, sparkling in the sunlight, onto a steak. Gökçe's approach has been compared to dinner theater, in that his actual finished product is secondary to the performance.
Dean scream – Former Governor of VermontHoward Dean's concession speech following the 2004 New Hampshire Democratic primaries included Dean rattling off a list of states in escalating volume as crowd noise rose, resulting an increasingly distorted audio and culminating in an unusual "yeehaw" sort of punctuating scream. It was one of the first political Internet memes.
Delete your account – A phrase used on Twitter to criticize the opinions of opponents. On 9 June 2016, Hillary Clinton tweeted this phrase towards Donald Trump. Afterwards, the tweet has become her most retweeted tweet of all time.
Forest raking—After U.S. President's Donald Trump's comments that Finland spent "a lot of time on raking and cleaning its forest floor", Finnish people began circulating satirical images of themselves raking the forests to stop wildfires.
Brad's Wife – On 27 February 2017, Brad Byrd of Harrison County, Illinois, posted on Cracker Barrel'sFacebook page, asking them why they fired his wife, Nanette, after 11 years of service. The intense and serious nature of the post drew viral attention, and internet users began semi-sarcastically demanding answers, using hashtags such as #BradsWife and #JusticeForBradsWife. This meme was notable for being popular with baby boomers as well as younger internet users. After the post was about a week old, several corporations jumped on the viral bandwagon and began to publicly send job offers to Nanette Byrd.
Creepypasta – urban legends or scary stories circulating on the Internet, many times revolving around specific videos, pictures or video games. The term "creepypasta" is a mutation of the term "copypasta": a short, readily available piece of text that is easily copied and pasted into a text field. "Copypasta" is derived from "copy/paste", and in its original sense commonly referred to presumably initially sincere text (e.g. a blog or forum post) perceived by the copy/paster as undesirable or otherwise preposterous, which was then copied and pasted to other sites as a form of trolling. In the pre-Internet era, such material regularly circulated as faxlore.
DashCon Ball Pit – A convention held in July 2014 by users of Tumblr that "imploded" due to a number of financial difficulties and low turnout. During the convention, a portable ball pit was brought into a large empty room, and for some premium panels that were cancelled, the attendees were offered an extra hour in the ball pit as compensation. The implosion and absurdity of aspects like the ball pit quickly spread through social media.
Gabe the dog – Gabe is a miniature American Eskimo dog owned by YouTube user gravycp. In January 2013, gravycp uploaded a short video of Gabe barking. The footage itself never went viral though it was used in dozens of song remixes, some of which accrued up to half a million views.
Horse ebooks / Pronunciation Book – A five-year-long viral marketing alternate reality game for a larger art project developed by Synydyne. "Horse_ebooks" was a Twitter account that seemed to promote e-books, while "Pronunciation Book" was a YouTube channel that provided ways to pronounce English words. Both accounts engaged in non-sequiturs, making some believe that the accounts were run by automated services. Pronunciation Book shifted to pronouncing numerals in a countdown fashion in mid-2013, concluding in late September 2013 revealing the connection to Horse_ebook and identity of Synydyne behind the accounts, and the introduction of their next art project.
Ligma – A fictitious disease first attributed with the false death of Fortnite streamer Ninja. It is said to be transmitted whenever someone asks what the disease is, with the answer being "ligma balls" ("lick my balls"), ligma nuts ("lick my nuts"), or something of that nature.
The paperclip that Kyle MacDonald converted into a house, after 14 trade-ups
One red paperclip – The story of a Canadian blogger who bartered his way from a red paperclip to a house in a year's time.
SCP Foundation is a creative writing website that contains thousands of fictitious containment procedures for paranormal objects captured by the in-universe SCP Foundation, a secret organization tasked with securing and documenting objects that violate natural law. The website has inspired numerous spin-off works, including a stage play and video games such as SCP – Containment Breach.
Storm Area 51 – A joke event created on Facebook to "storm" the highly classified Area 51 military base, with over 1,700,000 people claiming to be attending and another 1,300,000 claiming they were "interested" in going. (1,500 people arrived in the vicinity of Area 51 the day of the event, only one of whom actually breached the boundary and was quickly escorted off the premises.)
Slender Man or Slenderman is a creepypasta meme and urban-legend fakelore tale created on 8 June 2009 by user Victor Surge on Something Awful as part of a contest to photographs to contain "supernatural" entities and then pass them off as legitimate on paranormal forums. The Slender Man gained prominence as a frightening malevolent entity: a tall thin man wearing a suit and lacking a face with "his" head only being blank, white, and featureless. After the initial creation, numerous stories and videos were created by fans of the character. Slender Man was later adapted into a video game in 2012 and became more widely known. There is also a film released in 2018 to negative reviews.
Vuvuzelas – The near-constant playing of the buzz-sounding vuvuzela instrument during games of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa led to numerous vuvuzela-based memes, including YouTube temporarily adding a vuvuzela effect that could be added to any video during the World Cup.
Yanny or Laurel – An audio illusion where individuals hear either the word "Yanny" or "Laurel".
^Bissonnette, Zac (March 2015). "The $12-per-hour Sociology Major Who Made Ty Warner a Billionaire". The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute. Penguin Books. pp. 107–121. ISBN978-1591846024.