Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
Memes aren't limited to the Internet, either. Just take a look at these gems that have spawned outside the confines of the computer lab.
Both Politics and Sports are memetic enough to gain their own sections.
Please add entries in the following format:
The meme. [[labelnote:Explanation]]The explanation behind the meme.[[/labelnote]] Explanation Like this.
The term "Dust Bowl" derived from this line in an Associated Press newspaper article titled "If It Rains...":
"Three little words achingly familiar on the Western farmer's tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent — if it rains."
Antoine Dodson's "Hide your kids hide your wives hide your husbands cuz they rapin everybody out here" Explanation A news report of Antoine Dodson's sister's attempted rape that went viral. Was Auto Tuned into the song Bedroom Intruder.
In addition it the "Kilroy" with "Kilroy was here" (see page image), sometimes it would say "Wot, no bacon?" (or any other heavily rationed food item, like sugar), thus well predating the Internet bacon obsession.
Kokopelli. Explanation A doodle of a humpbacked flute player with strange protrusions on his head (possibly feathers, antennae, or wild hair). He has gained fame and popularity similar to the aforementioned Kilroy's, and appears on countless products like T-shirts and keychains. Interestingly, Kokopelli was originally a fertility god of the American Southwest, and his picture originally appeared in Native American petroglyphs and pictographs. (And in the original art, he had a Gag Penis.)
The "... rules OK" graffitis and their variations. They apparently started as Glasgow gang tags in The Thirties.
The UK equivalent of "Post No Bills" signs are signs reading "Bill stickers will be prosecuted". Which, naturally, inspired graffiti artists to respond with "Bill Stickers is an innocent man" and the like.
William Stickers, the failed Communist ghostpost-life citizen in Terry Pratchett's Johnny and the Dead, is named in reference to this.
Drunk people in Mexico somehow became the greatest Internet fad in 2008. You can absolutely bet any Mexican youth with an internet connection will at least recognize the following names: "Dios Eolo" ("God Aeolus"), a drunk man who claims to have superpowers; "¡Me amarraron como puerrrrrco!" ("I was tied like a piiiiiiiig!") also know as "el canaca", a drunk man who insists on being able to drive under the influence; "Tengo Miedo" ("I'm Afraid"), a sober guy afraid of the alcohol meter; and "Qué pasó, muchacho?" ("What's up, boy?"), an awesomely drunk guy who wants to buy booze after 1:00 AM, when stores are not allowed to sell alcoholic drinks, famous for saying "¡Ni merga!" (kinda like "Fook no!") and the newest one "FUA! fuerza universal aplicada (is kinda like cosmos or ki)".
Before them, there was Edgar, a poor fat kid who was trown to a river from the tree-trunk bridge he was walking on, while pleading not to be trown So popular, if you search "Edgar" in Google in any spanish version, the video its the first result.
The Fauxtivational Poster. You know those motivational posters in offices and counsellors offices that expect you to be motivated solely through use of a pretty photograph and a trite saying ("Hope: It's the Tulip of Life that matters, not the Onion of Failure")? The existence of site such as this and this have allowed parodies of these posters - which, although less earnest, are usually a lot more effective - to spring up all over the web.
Since about 2001, you can't open a computer magazine without seeing the phrase, "(This/Next) year will be the year of Desktop Linux."
Well it is growing.
The terrorist Mas Selamat escaped from Singaporean captivity on 27 Feb 2008 through a toilet window. Amid the discussion, a netizen mockingly 'shopped his head onto a Prison Break poster, creating Toilet Break.
Also from Singapore, the 'Boomz' meme, which is remarkably similer to Miss South Carolina below, except this one involves Singapore's Miss World finalist, in a TV interview rather than the actual competition, and the question is more on fashions than geography... just see it for yourself.
One from well before the days of the Internet: Vlad the Impaler, whose rather brutal reign inspired quite a few legends. There are numerous stories about various crimes in questionable circumstances brought before Vlad. Moreover, how the story ends usually depends on whether the teller views Vlad as a strict but just ruler who enjoyed the Secret Test of Character, or a Card-Carrying Villain who didn't care. Whether or not any of these actually happened is circumstantial at best. Of course, that's not even getting into otherlegends the man inspired.
In Spain, the Spanish Phrase "¿Por qué no te callas?" ("Why don't you shut up?") became a MEGA meme after the King of Spain yelled it at Hugo Chavez after the latter called the Spanish PM a fascist, even after his mike was cut.
There's a debatably-true story about the origin of the word 'quiz' which suggests that it originated when someone, for a bet, or maybe an experiment, chalked it on a bunch of walls around Dublin to get people talking about it. It worked, and the word caught on, eventually acquiring meaning.
During winter, there are cries of "SWINE FLU!" whenever anyone mentions that they have a cold.
Dublin universities (especially UCD) - Pat Paterson's exploits and abilities appeared on every toilet door - he was Chuck Norris before the Chuck Norris meme existed. Apparently he was a real person, an Agricultural Science student who was very uncomfortable with fame. The meme got old around 2006, but isn't quite dead.
It should be known that Sean Turner kicks haemophiliacs. If you can think of anything that you shouldn't do, Sean Turner did it.
The letter I, followed by a heart, and then a piece of cheese, has been seen everywhere.
"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey has gained meme status, especially after The Sopranos' non-ending. You burst out in song in a crowded area and see how many people join. It's rather impressive when it works.
In Detroit, the men they hire to play music at sporting events deliberately invoke this trope at every possible opportunity. They'll even mute the loudspeaker volume for the "born and raised in South Detroit" bit (despite the fact "South Detroit" isn't residential in the slightest), causing many a facepalming from visiting fans and television spectators. It's almost a REQUIREMENT to know the song if you're from the area... or at least that part of it anyways.
Doesn't help that "South Detroit" is a nickname for the Canadian city of Windsor.
You can buy anything at Harrod's. Seriously. If you wanted to buy an elephant, they'd ship it to you (for the right price, of course).
"Mad, bad, and dangerous to know." Everybody has heard it, although most people don't know it was coined to describe Lord Byron.
Ever since the Chilean right-wing newspaper "El Mercurio" was caught blatantly lying about the university protests and occupations of 1967 note in which they said that the Communist Party was behind the strike in... the VERY conservative and right-wing Catholic University of Chile, every Chilean person knows that "EL MERCURIO MIENTE!" ("EL MERCURIO LIES").
A few years ago in Australia, the Yellow Pages showed an ad where an unfortunate employee forgot to place the company's ad in the Yellow Pages. The owner screaming "NOT! HAPPY! JAN!" became a meme for someone who's really pissed — it even became a popular protest sign against then-Prime Minister John Howard, "Not Happy, John".
The recent eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which covered the European skies with thick ash that grounded planes, had spawned the phrase I HATE ICELAND!!!
From a Scot.
The phenomenon of the Czech genius Jára Cimrman. He received a number of votes at the Greatest Czech contest, and had an asteroid (and almost a mountain) named after him.
He is also entirely fictitious, a subject and purported author of a number of plays at the Czech Jára Cimrman Theater; but as the above demonstrates, playing along with the joke of his actual existence is very much a part of the phenomenon.
"Dr. Jackson's Magic Weather Machine", a joke at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that the school wasn't touched by Hurricane Sandy because the president has a device to keep the bad weather away.
"Do Americans really call ... ...'s?" Enter something normal like, "basketball", for the latter and something humorous for the former, like "loopty-swoops". It's based off a few people asking about the American versions of English words in that manner. A variation is "lol at Americans calling ... ...."
The WDWMagic community has The Ladder, whose presence at any construction site is a good sign for the upcoming attraction or, in its initial appearance during Mission Space's construction, being the epic ride itself.
Yo dawg, I heard you like memes, so we put memes in your memes so you can mutate while you mutate.
"My name is Mud.", popularly attributed to Dr. Samuel Mudd. At least in American English, the phrase is synonymous with calling yourself a screwup; considering Dr. Mudd was the doctor who tended to the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth (who infamously assassinated Abraham Lincoln at the Ford theatre in 1865), crediting him with the phrase is rather appropriate.
Urban Legends are often the product of memetic mutation. Many of them are the result of true events being retold, and occasionally modified to change things like the location an event took place, the company involved in a business-related legend, or the time period of a time-dependent legend. Thus they get sent around in a form that's utterly detached from reality.
If you ain't living life the Charlie Sheen way, you're not WINNING.
There were also jokes about the fact that the royal wedding and the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden happened around the same time, mostly comparing that week to a Disney movie since the prince got married and the bad guy got killed. For example, an existing image that juxtaposed Will and Kate with Prince Charming and Cinderella, and two princesses in funny hats with the stepsisters, was reposted, now adding one of bin Laden and Jafar.
Straight from Jamaica: "Nobody canna cross it!". Explanation Based on an actual news report about the lack of a proper river-bridge in a rural community named Roberts Field, St. Andrew; the quote comes from Clifton Brown (since nicknamed "Cliff Twang"), a resident who was interviewed by the reporter and spoke in a "posh" American twang in order to try and make a good impression; pieces of the news report and Brown's statements were spliced together into a music video by creator Kevin "DJ Powa" Hamilton. An edited clip of the original news report can be found here.
Hipsters are a pretty obscure source of memes. You probably haven't heard of them.
I only (do something) ironically.
I liked TV Tropesbefore it was cool. Explanation A catchphrase commonly attributed to hipsters, related to the perception of them disliking "mainstream" things. Also explains the two memes above.
Pepper Spray Cop. Explanation During an Occupy protest at University of California Davis, the police reacted by spraying a crowd of seated protestors on a sidewalk with pepper spray. A still from video or still photograph of one of the cops became Pepper Spray Cop.
In Denmark, a few years ago, a cop got caught on camera calling an anti-Israel protester a "perker", which is a nasty racial slur for immigrants of Arab or African descent. The police chief's defense of her cop quickly became memetic - she stated that the cop had said "perle", not "perker". "Perle", of course, means "pearl". This led to immigrants snarky calling themselves "pearls". It seems to have mostly died down in mainstream Danish media, but it's still common immigrant slang.
Are you choking? Are you pregnant? Explanation A Military meme, due to a training video on the Heimlich maneuver in Basic Training stating that this is the first thing you ask someone before performing said procedure. Since the delivery in the video was full of Narm, the military is mostly male, and it can be seen as a fat joke, it became an immediate classic.
"This is a pen." Explanation Traditionally, this was the first English sentence Japanese students were taught, the second being "That is a book." Its sheer Narm and uselessness in Real Life means students are now taught other, more natural English sentences, but the meme stuck.
There's also the Brazilian version "The book is on the table." which has appeared in actual advertisements.
In Italy: "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" Explanation Italian Coast Guard Officer to the Captain of the Costa Concordia after it capsized, when the latter left the ship even though there were still passengers on board. "Get on board, for fuck's sake!"
Also: "Vabbuo'" Explanation "Whatever" in Neapolitan dialect, uttered by said captain in response to claims that he should be on board.
"Aren't you Thankful?" The video-game company Blizzard.Explanation The way they've been treating their fans the last couple years has been...terrible at best; especially in regards to their release and questionable patching of Diablo III. On the Battle.Net forums, one such Blizzard employee wrote in their post, "Aren't you thankful?" in an attempt to calm the internet backlash that's been ravaging their Diablo3 forums. It has now since become a fanbase trolling between fans who disagree on the forums.
"5$" Explanation There's even an ongoing rumor that Blizzard will actually pay their fans FIVE dollars to write something good about Blizzard in their Diablo 3 forum. Simply writing "5$" as a reply to any thread that defends Blizzard on their forums, even if it was a genuine defend-post, has become a growing joke towards those that attempt to defend Blizzard.
OH JESUS CHRIST, FENTON!Explanation A viral video of a man chasing after his runaway dog. Now popular enough to warrant its own merch.
Fresco JesusExplanation A woman in her eighties attempted to renovate a 19th century fresco in a Spanish church. The resulting picture was described as resembling "a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic". The face has since been photoshopped into other paintings.
On a science related note, the E. coli exchanges genesnote plasmids with the other E. coli to protect the rest of them and it spreads quickly. Talk about a real memetic mutation. note mainly because it is one.
After the infamous "Series of Tubes" comment regarding the internet, "tubes" has become a popular euphemism for bandwidth bottlenecks, such as downloads of large and popular files being on a clogged "tube".
"If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again." Explanation In the U.S., if you leave a phone off the hook long enough, you usually get this recording.
Of the more morbid variety, you get the 9-11 memes that spawned after the initial attacks and the image shops from 4chan appearing many years later.
This video of a passenger's rudeness to security personnel in a train station became an instant meme in the Philippines right after it was posted on YouTube. The word AMALAYERnote Engrish for "I'm a liar?"[sic] has since been an ongoing trending topic on the Internet at the time of this writing.
The engagement proclamation video released by Swedish princess Madeleine and her fiancé Chris in 2012 quickly became a meme in Sweden. The video itself features the princess talking very stilted, revealing that Chris proposed "in early Feb... October", Chris declaring that he's learning Swedish but it's difficult (which he says in English but repeats in struggling Swedish), and ends with the princess saying "Tihi" ("Tihi" is how a giggle is written in Swedish comic books. Madeleine is probably the first Swede to actually say it with a straight face).
In Finland, Olli Hokkanen (now known as Kola-Olli) continues to enjoy a stint of popularity after appearing on national television in 2006 attempting to set the world record for drinking 1.5 litres of Coca Cola as quickly as possible...and giving up after the third glass. Since then he has made numerous appearances in Finnish media, and his attempt has inspired the Olli Hokkanen Open website, which hosts videos of its members' attempts at setting records for drinking various soft drinks as quickly as possible and keeps track of the quickest times.
George P. Burdell was an elaborate prank by a student at Georgia Tech University who was accidentally sent two enrollment forms. He managed to earn all undergraduate degrees the university could offer, served in the army, got married, and was part of MAD Magazine's board of directors, all while not existing.
That method of drawing "S" with straight lines that's popular in elementary schools, you know the one. It's been around since the '60s and no one knows its true origins, though it's popularly nicknamed "Superman S" and "Stussy S".
At the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, John Travolta, in presenting the Oscar for Best Song to Idina Menzel for "Let It Go" from Frozen, butchered her name as "Adele Dazeem," which led Slate.com to create the Adele Dazeem Name Generator so that you can "Travoltify" your name.
Special FeelingExplanation On February 8th, 2014, Japan was hit by one of the worst winter storms in Japan's weather history. During the emergency warnings in the Japanese TV stations, a Japanese crew interviewed a young couple in front of Tokyo's Shibuya Station. Upon asking how they feel, the man replied, "being in the snow with my lover like this immerses me in a special feeling. I like it.” Needless to say, his lover shown in the photo appeared in embarrassment with a Facepalm. A Twitter account responded with a comment, "SHUT UP FUCKING FOUR-EYES!" (which coincidentally is a reference to Levi from Attack on Titan) and thus spawn numerous image macros in Japan.
20 GOTO 10Explanation Part of a simple two-line BASIC program that executes Line 10, usually a PRINT statement, over and over without end. Many beginning BASIC programmers did this to annoy people. This is demonstrated in the opening of Look Around You. A now-closed art gallery in San Francisco took its name from this.
British gaming magazine N Gamer had several memes before they had to close down in the early 2010's, including references to Ninja Gaiden's Ninja Cat as a Memetic Badass and 'WORTH SEVEN POUNDS' (their adamant claim about the value of one of the gifts they gave out for free with the magazine, namely a plastic Wii Wheel peripheral).