Ever since the boom of social media, memes have changed the world in an unexpectedly touching way. The ideas they convey and the emotions they conjure somehow manage to unite us and make us laugh when we need it the most. Over the years, we’ve fallen in love with countless stars of hilarious memes — and now it’s now to be reminded of them and see where they are now!
1. The Most Interesting Man In The World
The “Dos Equis Guy” was the center of a meme that stemmed from one of the most iconic commercials of all time. The advert was for Dos Equis beer, and it always concluded with a bearded gentleman (who they dubbed “The Most Interesting Man In The World”) saying confidently, “I don’t always drink beer — but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends.”
It didn’t take long for high schoolers and college students to start coming up with their own versions of this iconic phrase, catapulting it into the mythology of hilarious memes. The actor who played this instantly recognizable character, named Jonathan Goldsmith, actually wrote a memoir titled I Don’t Always Tell Stories About My Life, But When I Do They’re True and Amazing.
2. Overly Attached Girlfriend
Why do we love memes so much? Perhaps it’s because they can take something heavy and make it digestible, and often even ridiculously funny. Take the “Overly Attached Girlfriend,” for instance. She’s the epitome of creepiness, and yet we relate to her on a deep level. Whether or not we’d like to admit it, we’ve all been that obsessive person at one point or another.
We appreciate her for embracing her truth, and not being afraid to admit it. However, her smile only tells part of the story. Laina Morris, the girl herself, actually had some trouble when she got too famous: “Strangers were finding my personal Facebook page and talking to my friends.” Boundaries, people!
3. Success Kid
This meme has two meanings, depending on how you look at it. When it was created in 2007 by a mother who had taken a picture of her son clenching his fist, it was called the “I Hate Sandcastles” meme. At first, this was essentially an ode to beautifully triumphant destruction.
Eventually, however, the mother decided that she wanted to change the narrative into something more positive — and thus the “Success Kid” was born. Today, this meme is a source of inspiration for rising stars all around the world who all need just a little boost every now and then. The kid’s name is Sammy Griner, and his mom says he still gets embarrassed by it after all these years.
4. Cash Me Outside
When Danielle Bregoli came on the Dr. Phil talk show, she wasn’t about to be steamrolled by anyone. She appeared on the program with her mother, and while the details of the episode aren’t so important, the main takeaway is that she was willing to fight people in the audience if they had a problem with her lifestyle.
She told them all to catch her outside (or in her accent, “Cash me outside”), sparking yet another viral media storm of jokes surrounding the phrase. Bregoli had the last laugh, cashing in on her newfound fame by starting a music career under the name Bhad Bhabie, and even becoming a rapper with a gold album.
5. Hipster Barista
It’s not uncommon in this day and age to feel like we know more than other people. Yes, we try as much as we can to be open to other people’s opinions, but at the end of the day we very much respect our own. However, it’s the opposite side of this mindset that sparks the humor in the hailed “hipster barista” meme.
It’s basically a way to poke fun at people who feel like they are in some way superior to others, generally focusing on smug hipster types associated with edgy new trends in the world, trying to prove they’re ahead of the curve. The original subject himself, Dustin Mattison, has actually evolved quite a bit since his barista days. In fact, he never even considered himself a hipster at all.
6. Hide Ya’ Kids Hide Ya’ Wife
Antoine Dodson, the man behind this hilarious meme, has inspired his fair share of laughter in this world, and we’d like to thank him dearly for that. That being said, the spark that incited it wasn’t a positive one. After his house was broken into and his sister was attacked, an infuriated Dodson gave this criminal a piece of his mind for the rest of us to hear.
He told everyone to hide their kids, and of course hide their wives, because there was a criminal on the loose. But not for long, according to him, saying that the criminal was “really dumb” for leaving his imprints on the scene. This man is a true American gem, and today his words are being spun in a multitude of creative webs online.
7. Disaster Girl
This was a real fire, and so was this little angel’s smile. The girl, Zoe Roth, observed this burning house and gave a devilish smile, turning back to her father who seemed amused by her reaction. So amused, in fact, that he caught it on camera, eventually turning it into one of the darkest memes of all time.
However, it’s all done in good fun, and we all know Zoe probably doesn’t get a sick pleasure out of watching things burn like the picture suggests. At least she has a sense of humor about it, because she came to recreate the original photo over 15 years later. She also recently said, “I’d love for the meme to help me get into or pay for college somehow.”
8. Bad Luck Brian
His real name might be Kyle Craven, but to us he’ll always be “Bad Luck Brian.” He’s the kid who just can’t ever get a break, even when it seems like all the stars are about to align for him. Whether or not we once rocked that same nerdy style, all of us know what it’s like to be Brian at one point or another.
But perhaps what this meme reminds us is that it’s okay to fall on your face every now and then. Why not smile anyway? In real life, Kyle Craven seems pretty happy indulging his legions of fans with frequent throwbacks to his iconic old photo.
If “Side-Eyeing Chloe” is the epitome of indifference, the “Ermahgerd” girl is literally the opposite of that. She is the face of the excited, the spirit of the passionate, and everything in between. And to be clear, this passion can be for something as simple as a handful of the classic ’90s horror stories Goosebumps, which makes it all the more perfect.
We all have our things we love, and understand that sometimes there’s nothing better than to nerd out over those things. Maggie Goldenberger, the girl behind “Ermahgerd”, lives a more private life these days, and doesn’t seem as interested in cashing in on her viral success.
10. That’d Be Great
This meme will mean much more to you if you’ve seen the movie Office Space, but even if you haven’t, the gist is still there. You don’t need to have seen the movie to understand that this character isn’t someone who’s satisfied with what’s going on around him. He wants things done, and wants other people to get their act together.
However, while in the movie he’s an antagonist, a boss telling his employees to work harder, in the meme world he’s a true voice of the people. The actor who plays the character is Gary Cole, and since then he’s appeared in countless blockbuster comedies, like Dodgeball and Pineapple Express.
11. Sarcastic Willy Wonka
Gene Wilder, the legendary comedic actor who played the title role in the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, is no longer with us — but boy are we still laughing thanks to him. This hilarious meme on the left became a hit when people realized that Willy Wonka’s snarkiness was exactly the way they felt about certain things, and certain people.
The photo is dripping with maniacal sarcasm, and the idea behind the meme every time it gets replicated is to literally rain on someone’s parade. Of course, the beauty of it is that it’s never done harshly. The feeling underneath generally is spicy lava, but on the surface, we’re allowed to say our strong opinions dressed up in a nice, healthy, have-some-chocolate kind of manner.
12. First World Problems
In this day and age, one of the most common jokes people make is that they’re suffering from “first world problems.” It stems from a desire to acknowledge that there are actually much worse problems that exist in the world — while at the same time admitting that we can’t be bothered by half of them.
Still, this meme is a fun way to laugh at ourselves when we’re feeling like the world is crumbling beneath us, and we know deep down that it actually isn’t. Our subject here, Silvia Bottini, is in the process of making her own movie currently about what it’s like to be a hilarious meme.
13. Aliens Guy
“I ain’t saying it’s aliens — but it’s aliens.” On the History Channel, the show Ancient Aliens wouldn’t be what it is without Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, a man who can take literally any topic on the face of the earth and make it sound like proof that extraterrestrial beings truly exist.
Visually characterized by his wild matted hair, Giorgio’s fame got even larger when the world just couldn’t resist making their own “alien” memes. Exaggeration was the name of the game here, with people getting extra liberal with their helpings of alien conspiracy. Over the years, Giorgio has appeared in other shows as well, hosting a separate short-lived series called In Search of Aliens.
14. Hide The Pain Harold
This meme hits home on the deepest of levels. Poor Harold is the man who will always be hiding his pain behind those soft eyes. That forced smile, the slightly drooped eyebrows over bleary eyes — we can see that there’s a story there he wishes he could talk about to someone.
Of course, like most of these hilarious memes, it works because we’ve all either identified with, or know someone who identifies with, the feeling of hiding our pain away. And, after all, it’s nice to laugh at ourselves sometimes. Speaking of laughing, this man’s name isn’t actually Harold. He’s András Arató from Hungary, and he’s amused by the level of fame his picture has garnered. In fact, he’s taken to Instagram to share more pictures of himself “hiding his pain.”
15. Scumbag Steve
It may sound like we’re being mean to this guy by calling him Scumbag Steve, but it’s not us that gave him the title. It’s simply the name of the meme itself, not the person. The person’s actual name is Blake Boston, and word on the street is that he’s actually a pretty swell guy with two kids.
However, back when his original meme picture was uploaded in 2011, the world went to town with the scumbag analogies, taking him to task for his outfit. We all have that person in our lives who is simply just not reliable when it comes to anything. They try their best, but at the end of the day they just end up letting you down.
16. Why You Always Lyin’
“Why are you always lying” is certainly a thought that enters our mind from time to time. Well, to be fair, some people are more trusting than others, but most of us have been in that place where we feel like someone is being dishonest towards us.
But like many of the most hilarious memes out there, this one works because of the knowing smile that accompanies the message. The accusation that someone is lying doesn’t feel as harsh when the person is grinning the way he is here. And Nicholas Fraser, the guy behind the grin, has been using that knowledge to further expand his already large Instagram following of 390,000 people.
17. Blinking Guy
The idea behind the “Blinking Guy” is the feeling of utter shock, simply living in that surreal feeling, trying to figure out if what we’re looking at is actually real. This kind of feeling can be sparked by a million different scenarios, but one thing we can all agree on is that this guy reacts to it best.
Drew Scanlon is his name, and he opted to go full throttle with his meme fame by talking quite a lot about it. He posted a YouTube video titled, “I Accidentally Became a Meme: Blinking White Guy,” describing the postmodern experience of what that’s actually like.
18. Grumpy Cat
On a list of hilarious memes that’s overwhelmed with humans, Tardar Sauce the cat is one exception we were all too proud to make. There’s nothing more precious and funny than an animal letting their true emotions come out in a way that seems shockingly human — and that’s exactly what incited the popularity of “Grumpy Cat.”
This is a cat who’s clearly been wronged, and simply won’t have it. In life, Tardar Sauce wasn’t content to just stand idly by while the world tried to step all over her. As you can see in the second picture, Tardar Sauce’s grumpy days were a constant, and in fact she has her very own “Real Grumpy Cat” Instagram page where fans can cherish her life’s achievements.
19. Side-Eyeing Chloe
There’s nothing like finding out you’re about to do something fun, especially as a kid. “Side-Eyeing Chloe” was a hilarious meme resulting from a viral YouTube video that will always remain dear to our hearts. It starts off with a mother surprising her two daughters, Lily and Chloe, by telling them that instead of going to school, they’ll in fact be going to Disneyland.
The older daughter, Lily, breaks into tears of joy, while Chloe…well, she’s not too sure how she feels. If she’s excited, it’s betrayed by a suspicious look that’s all too perfect. Eventually it was Chloe’s expression that people fell in love with. Nowadays, she and Lily both share an Instagram account where their fans can follow them at their leisure.
20. Confused Nick Young
The cool thing about memes is that they aren’t reserved for any particular group of people. The act of becoming an Internet hit can happen to just about anyone — including professional athletes. NBA star Nick Young was the center of the “Confused Guy” meme, which was spread after he was seen making this expression on the Internet reality series Thru The Lens.
Also known as “Swaggy P,” the meme took off, and is now part of the lexicon of recurring hilarious memes on social media. It was popularized when Young was on the Los Angeles Lakers, but these days he’s not signed by any team. Technically a free agent, he’s using his days away from basketball to spend more time with his family.
21. Confused Math Lady
We’ve all had a certain time in our lives where everything in front of us looks like rocket science (unless you’re a rocket scientist, in which case something else looks really difficult). The “Confused Math Lady,” played by actress Renata Sorrah on a Brazilian soap opera called Senhora do Destino, is keenly aware of exactly what that feels like.
Like most of these memes, however, not everything is how it seems in reality. The truth is, both the character and the actress are generally not this confused. Sorrah is actually a very prominent figure in Brazil, and like others, she’s well amused by her meme’s burgeoning popularity.
22. Attractive Convict
Meagan McCullough made headlines back in 2010 with a mugshot that could’ve also been used as a Tinder profile picture. In fact, she even received a few marriage proposals as a result. But she herself finds the whole thing kind of silly.
She didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about, saying, “I don’t even think it’s that good a picture. There are other ones I would prefer.” Those are the kind of comments that may upset people envious of those strong genes, but she’s managing to put the past behind her in more ways than one. She’s moved on from her times of getting cuffed, and is happily raising four kids in Florida.
23. I Don’t Know Girl
Her expression pretty much says it all. One of the reasons that memes are so powerful is because pictures sometimes say things that words can’t. Really, haven’t we all had this expression at some time in our lives? It’s the face that says all too directly that nothing is clear to us. We have absolutely no idea what’s going on, and we don’t know what the world wants from us.
The picture is actually a screenshot from the Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie, and the actress’ name is Mia Talerico. As a child star, she eventually moved on from the show and starred in a short crime film called Shadow Theory, maintaining her own Instagram following as well. However, she’ll always be known for that bewildered face, hands thrown up in confusion.
24. One Does Not Simply…
For fans of Lord of the Rings, this meme will go down in history as one of the greatest ever, if not the very best. In the first movie of the epic fantasy trilogy, actor Sean Bean plays the role of Boromir, a warrior who’s trying to explain to the Council of Elrond that “one does not simply walk into Mordor” in order to destroy the evil Ring.
After all, its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs, there is evil there that does not sleep, and it is a barren wasteland…you get the picture? Mordor is a dangerous place, far from easy to steal on into. In fact, he conveyed his message so well that the resulting meme is now used as a tool to convince people why “one does not simply” do anything.
25. Not Impressed
In the 2012 Olympics, when Internet memes were in their infancy, gymnast McKayla Maroney gave an expression that nearly overshadowed the gold medal she won. However, she also won a silver medal, and it became all too clear to the world that she wasn’t happy about it. When her face visibly contorted itself to show that she was clearly “not impressed,” it took the world by storm.
Unfortunately, later on she was also the center of a watershed moment in sports. Her team doctor was convicted for intimately assaulting her and many of her teammates, after maintaining for years that it was simply “procedure.” These days, however, McKayla has been active on Instagram, telling the world that she retired from gymnastics, and is now pursuing music.
26. Holding It In
One of the most legendary memes of all time got its start on the popular website Reddit. It was there that a student posed this photo in 2014 along with a caption that read “trying to hold in a fart next to a cute girl in class.”
In just a few days after the picture was first posted, it became one of the most viral memes of the year. It turns out that the man behind the meme is named Mike McGee. In Reddit posts after his newfound fame, he said he regrets nothing except the fact that he did not copyright the picture as a way to make money.
Were there even any Internet dogs before the Shiba Inu known lovingly by the interwebs as “doge”? This famous furball first rose to Internet stardom all the way back in February 2010. That is when a Japanese kindergarten teacher by the name of Atsuko Sato uploaded a picture of her dog named Kabosu.
What started as a way to show her blog followers her rescue dog quickly turned into an Internet obsession for more than a decade. This doge’s eyebrow raise that makes just about everyone feel judged. Nowadays, Sato still uploads pictures of Kabosu, but none of them have caught on quite as much.
28. Uber Frosh
The Uber Frosh meme, also known as the College Freshman meme is a classic. This clean cut college aged student posing for a photo looked like it was torn directly out of a catalog for a liberal arts college, ready to tell anyone all about his crazy night out at the coolest fraternity house on campus.
Naturally the Internet loved it, and the picture of this “ultimate freshman” was shared thousands, if not millions, of times. So what does the typical freshman grow up to become? Well, in Griffin Kiritsy’s case, they become a real estate agent. Yeah, that checks out.
29. Crying Piccolo Girl
It was the moment that March madness turned into March sadness. The Villanova Wildcats were playing against North Carolina State in the basketball game that would determine which team would join the other “Sweet 16” rounds of the NCAA tournament. The camera panned to a woman in Villanova’s band, crying as she played the piccolo.
Immediately, people took notice and started sharing the image. Villanova senior Roxanne Chalifoux suddenly had a new name, “crying piccolo girl.” The image became so popular that she was invited to appear on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She has since graduated Villanova and joined optometry school at Salus University.
30. Sudden Clarity Clarence
In 2009, the Australian Associated Press uploaded a series of stock images with pretty much zero fanfare. One of those photos featured a young man in a sea of dancers as his face looked like he had come to a shocking realization. The young man is probably making the same face as the Australian Associated Press did when they realized one of those photos went viral.
The stock photo became the meme known as Sudden Clarity Clarence, based off of his look of lucidity. After it caught on, the identity of this mystery man was revealed to be a man named Will G. Randomly, Will is from southern California, not anywhere near Australia.
31. Annoyed Picard
Sometimes the best memes are just screenshots from even more famous movies. In this case, the meme known as Annoyed Picard was taken directly from Star Trek: The Next Generation as the character Jean-Luc Picard looked a bit annoyed. The image made its way around the Internet and was paired with captions that can only be yelled rather than read.
It is not particularly hard to track down where this meme star is now, considering that he is also a real-life star as well. Sir Patrick Stewart, the British actor, is bringing back his famous role with the television show Star Trek: Picard. So we can all expect a few more memes in our futures.
32. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy
As Derek Zoolander would say in the movie Zoolander, “Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” Well, this meme star probably hasn’t, because he became Internet famous just for having a particularly good looking face.
Zeddie Little was running in the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run when a photographer snapped his photo. The next day, a Charleston newspaper published the image and let’s just say that it got a bit of attention, and Little became known as Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. An here’s a not-so-surprising update, Ridiculously Photogenic Guy is still ridiculously photogenic.
33. Roll Safe
For years, the Roll Safe meme has been there as a clever way for people to tell their friends to use their brains before making stupid decisions. This famous meme can be traced back to 2016 in a mini-documentary series for BBC called Hood Documentary.
In the documentary, the moment that became a meme actually came when the actor said that he finds a woman beautiful when “she’s got good brains.” That Nigerian-British actor is named Kayode Ewumi and, years later, he is making comedy, particularly a sitcom series called Enterprice that is said to be “a show about two young boys in South East London.”
34. Sheltering Suburban Mom
When Carly Phillips prepared herself to take head shots for an upcoming novel she had written, she could never have prepared herself for what was about to come. Somehow, someone saw the picture and thought that she embodied a sheltered suburban mother. That person took Phillips’ headshot and matched it with text that read “Lets kids watch PG-13 movies when they’re 17.”
The meme quickly caught on and Phillips became the embodiment of overprotective mothers. But in reality, Phillips has made a name for herself for being the opposite of PG-13. This author is known for writing some pretty steamy romance novels.
35. The Rent Is Too Damn High
Sometimes people become memes based on just a split-second expression caught on camera. Others become memes for, well, being themselves. In the case of The Rent is Too Damn High meme, it’s star became an Internet sensation based on his real life story as the leader of The Rent Is Too Damn High political party.
The political party’s leader, Jimmy McMillan, ran in the election to be the governor of New York City in 2005 and 2009, but despite having a pretty relateable and easy-to-understand platform, McMillan lost the race. Years later, the rent in New York is still way too high, and McMillan is still fighting against the rent prices.
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