By Jason Epstein
Thousands of memes are born every day on the internet. Most are forgotten within hours. However, a select handful go viral. Ultimately, the best of the best become a part of the culture of the online experience.
Let’s go deep and take a look back at the origins of some of the funniest memes in existence. It’s fascinating to research and see how it all began.
Click the right arrow to view the entire gallery. Be sure to look under the picture to see the explanation:
Bad Luck BrianOn January 23, 2012, a Quickmeme user uploaded "Bad Luck" Brian's photo with the caption: "Takes driving test – Gets first DUI." "Brian" did a Reddit AMA on May 8, 2012. He revealed that his name is Kyle, that the photo was taken when he was in 7th grade (almost 10 years prior), and that his principal made him take it a second time because he thought Kyle was making that face on purpose. Kyle also mentioned that he's had pretty good luck in his life and was even recognized by Seth Rogen once.
Not Sure If FryIn Season 2, Episode 6 of Futurama (titled "The Lesser of Two Evils"), there's a scene where Fry is searching through Leela's underwear drawer – that's where this screenshot comes from. The image first hit the Internet as a variation of the "I See What You Did There" meme before becoming "Not Sure If." On June 20, 2012, Futurama's opening sequence paid homage with, "Not sure if new episode, or just rerun of episode I watched drunk."
DogeThe Shiba Confessionals Tumblr blog contains this fine meme's origin, though the actual Comic Sans "wow", "so [word]" amazingness didn't take off until 2013 and the actual misspelling of "doge" dates back to June 2005 in an episode of Homestar Runner's puppet series. The picture is of a female Shiba Inu named Kabosu. The photo had been taken while documenting the dog's daily activities. Probably the single most amazing thing about this meme is that Kobasu will never know how much she is loved by the world.
Skeptical African ChildIn 2012, a Redditor who had taken a trip to Uganda on a volunteer trip for the Student Global Health Alliance posted pictures from her trip. On June 22, 2012, a Redditor posted a photo of the Ugandan child titled "Skeptical 3rd World Child" to the "pics" subreddit. The thread garnered over 17,000 upvotes and 725 comments in just the first 24 hours.
Really High GuyOn November 25, 2011, a Reddit user posted this glorious photo under a marijuana enthusiast subreddit. The very same day, another user submitted the picture with the caption, ‘Texts the person next to them – I want hopsital.' Modern humor is born.
Grandma Finds the InternetLeave it to stock photos to create incredible memes. The original image comes from one titled "Elderly Woman Looking at Computer Screen", which was taken in December 2005. On February 4, 2011 Redditors posted images of the stock photos with captions concerning such tasteful topics as 2 Girls 1 Cup, lemon party dot org (there's no way I'm going to give you a proper link to that) and circle jerks.
Success KidSammy Griner is success kid. His mother, photographer Laney Griner, photographed him at just 11 months old playing in the sand and posted it to her Flickr account and Getty Images. This was on August 26, 2007. In January of 2008, MySpace users could be found using photos of Sammy with phrases like "I Hate Sandcastles." In February 2012 Virgin Media ran billboards featuring a version of the photo, paying the Griner's for the right to use it. Success kid is now successful.
Condescending WonkaClearly you already know that this image comes from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory where Wonka asks the children if they'd like to see the "Everlasting Gobstopper." In January 2011, this screenshot was introduced as a version of the "You Must Be New Here" meme. Throughout the year it took a turn for the sarcastic and was renamed "Condescending Wonka" by October 2011.
Y U NO GuyChapter 55: Naked King from sci-fi manga/anime comic book Gantz is thought to have been the original source of this character's explosively hilarious face. The original instance of the "Y U NO" guy was first found on LOLTumblrWallpapers, where he was spouting, "I txt u - Y u no txt bak!?" It gained over 10,000 reblogs and likes.
ErmahgerdOn March 14, 2012, this image was posted to a subreditt under the heading "Just a book owner's smile." A fellow Redditor linked commented "Gersberms – Mah fravrit berks" and history was born. Later that day, the image was uploaded to a post titled "BERKS!" that went on to reach Reddit's front page and accumulate over 17,000 upvotes in just two weeks. On March 30, 2012, it was revealed that the "Berks" girl was named Maggie and she was actually pretty cute.
The Most Interesting Man in the World"The Most Interesting Man in the World" advertising campaign was created by major marketing firm EURO RSCG Worldwide. The first ad aired on US television in 2006. In January 2010, a Quickmeme page for the character was created, and the first image was captioned with: "I don't masturbate often, but when I do, I use women." Classy.
Jason Epstein is a nationally published freelance writer living in the greater NYC area. He’s known for his close friends/good conversations/playing bass/wind in the face/rocking out/reading up/holding it down/good times/turning on dimes/and sometimes trying to rhyme(s). His work can be found on Made Man, ScreenJunkies, GuySpeed, Gunaxin, SoundCtrl, Punk News and Dying Scene, among other online publications.