Oh, 2017. How can we even begin to describe you? All those unforgettable stories, those indelible moments, those outsize feelings we all felt together on a daily basis while reading the news. In fact, there’s only one way we think we can capture your wonderful craziness: memes.
Yes, memes—those silly, sardonic photos and GIFs that burn up social media and distract you while you’re at work. They’re no longer simply oddity on the Internet that are good for a quick laugh. No, today they’re a full-on cultural force, capable of encapsulating our collective thoughts and feelings better than just about anything else—and in just a split-second, to boot! So scroll through the 20 below and see if your favorite LOL made the cut. And more great culture coverage of the last year, don’t miss the 20 Greatest Viral Moments of 2017.
Though there’s no simple explanation for why referencing the Seattle-based show Frasier became such a thing again in 2017—the show went off the air in 2004—everyone felt the need to in pretty much any capacity and for any reason. Not that we’re mad about it.
Winona Ryder at the SAG Awards
Although she may be the star of 2017’s biggest TV show, Stranger Things, nothing was stranger than Winona Ryder’s many faces when she was on stage accepting an award for the Netflix program at the 2017 SAGs. For more on Ryder, read up on her secret tricks for staying completely ageless.
Michelle Obama at the 2017 Presidential Inauguration
When Donald Trump was inaugurated in January of 2017, outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama presenting incoming FLOTUS with a gift, followed by a look of what’s now revered to be mad shade.
New York Reacting to Beyonce’s Twins
OK, maybe this wasn’t New York reacting to Beyonce’s twins announcement, but rather went viral again as one of the biggest memes in 2017 when positioned as the twins’ reaction to finding out who their birth mama is.
Babadook as a Gay Icon
A Netflix error led to the Babadook’s transformation from horror villain to LGBTQ icon.
Pennywise the Clown
Pennywise the clown tried to lure the innocent and unsuspecting down into the sewers…at any cost.
Snapchat Dancing Hotdog
What started as a silly Snapchat filter that was only supposed to last 24 hours became a total internet sensation in 2017, with everyone from your bestie to DJ Khaled getting in on some bun fun.
Once just a sweet stock photo, this pic took over during the summer of 2017 giving couples a whole new way to crack jokes about wandering eyes. (This all, of course, was before the Harvey Weinstein fallout.)
Ivanka Trump as a Punk
After saying she went through a “punk phase” in the 1990s, the internet went wild dreaming up images of what Ivanka Trump would look like if she really had been through such a period and wasn’t the blonde princess that everyone has come to know so well.
Puff Daddy at the Met Ball
Perhaps there is no greater arbiter of cooler than Puff Daddy, er, P Diddy, himself. And he showed off how good he feels about himself at the Met Gala in May of this year by posing oh-so-luxuriously on the famous steps for the paparazzi. The image, in turn, became a viral sensation, with everyone indulging themselves to their P Diddy sides.
Mocking Anyone With Sponge Bob
Although Sponge Bob has been around for like, twenty years or something now, kids and adults alike can’t get enough of the stoner-vibe cartoon. For every action in 2017, there was a Sponge Bob- or Patrick the Starr-based reaction.
Spiderman vs. Spiderman
Steph Curry High Kick
As one of basketball’s all-time greats, anything Steph Curry does is cool. Anything, maybe, except for his high kick reminiscent of “sweeping the leg” a la Karate Kid, which made for a choice meme all year long.
Tiger Woods Mugshot
When Tiger Woods was arrested in August 2017 for a DUI, no one was particularly surprised. Instead, the mugshot was used as a meme to express how crappy one felt or, when paired with a more sparkling, earlier photo of Woods, a comparison of feeling amazing to well, not so much.
Kellyanne Conway on the Couch
One of the only women to remain on the Trump team since the campaign, Kellyanne Conaway make a joke of herself during this official White House portrait.
Meryl Streep Singing
Though this is a pic of Meryl Streep at the 2015 SAG awards, the image became one of the biggest memes in 2017, featuring series of captioned tweets illustrating an imagined duet of widely recognized lyrics from popular songs as performed by Streep. The tweets are accompanied by this shot, and the result is seriously LOL-worthy.
The Guy Blinking
When a white dude blinks, apparently he is nothing but bored. So it went in 2017 with the the “white guy blinking,” whose name is actually Drew Scanlon, as his reaction sparked a litany of memes and gifs
In March, Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe uploaded a video of himself flamboyantly sprinkling salt on a carved steak. The image, however, became social media gold, with everyone referring to the cook as “salt bae” and considering the image synonymous in 2017 with pizzaz. He’s also one of the things in 2017 that we’re super thankful for.
If there was one reaction to anything and everything jaw-dropping that happened during 2017, the Magikarp guy meme was here to give that signature look of shock and horror.
This screengrab of actor Kayode Ewumi made the rounds in 2017 and is used in memes galore as your worst-best source of advice—or the face you make when you get some of it. It originated from the 2016 BBC Three #HoodDocumentary series when he made a joke about—wait for it—oral sex. And for more great recaps of 2017, don’t miss the 10 Greatest Celebrity Weight Loss Stories of the Year.
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