Sociology notwithstanding, on The Internet, a "meme" (rhymes with "cream") is usually described as a catchy derivative of some aspect of pop culture parodied and repeated over and over, essentially being a cross between a catchphrase and an inside joke. If not used carefully, it can get to the point that its origins and original meaning become muddled and completely mutilated beyond any point of recognition or humor.
Which means we don't want them in TV Tropes articles. Because we are not interested in being muddled, dated, and beyond humor.
Fandom being what it is, this also applies to characters. The Internet is liable to spread a "meme" version of a character which is totally (oftentimes deliberately) at odds with the original depiction, such as a cheerful version of a dark or scary character, a sexy version of a character featured in a Jekyll & Hyde episode, or an unlucky-yet-annoyingly-optimistic version of a normally depressed, tragic character.
Another quirk of memes depends on where they're initially propagated. Memes often spread regardless of content, taste or sensibilities, while the original source may be the only ones who know enough about the source material to use it ironically. Furthermore, some memes reference something common, but become catchy enough to be associated with only a single new thing.
Depending on how strongly the production company is tied with fandom, sometimes a meme can escape the internet and get referenced in the medium it parodied through Bonus Material or Popularity Power. When this is the case you get an Ascended Meme. Some forgotten or Discredited Memes are even resurrected thanks to the Popularity Polynomial.
Note that while this article refers to internet-based memes, the phenomenon is not just limited to the internet. It can be an instance of The Catchphrase Catches On, which is when a phrase or saying from fiction becomes popular as an expression used in Real Life. However, certain memes are only popular to a certain group.
For in-universe examples, see Instant Web Hit.
If you'd like to keep up with the memes of the day, go to Know Your Meme, or Teh Meme Wiki on Fandom, or The LURKMORE Wiki (NSFW), or the fine folks at Encyclopedia Dramatica (even more NSFW). These are all examples of great resources for the memes themselves and the enigmatic culture around them, but beware the interstitials. You Have Been Warned. On the other hand, if you just want to learn who starts many of these, see Fountain of Memes. These are probably the most common source of Surreal Humor.
The Trope Namer (for the word meme) is Richard Dawkins, who suggested a Mind Virus-like model of society: that cultural information is inherited and reproduced, occasionally with minor mutations, in a similar way to genetic information. It's explained in detail, in plain language, in Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash.
When adding to one of the subpages, please write the meme, then add the explanation of the meme inside a labelnote titled "Explanation." Explanation
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Comic Strips
- Fan Works
- Films Animation
- Films Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Other Internet
- Professional Wrestling
- Tabletop Games
- TV Tropes
- Video Games (includes Visual Novels)
- Web Animation
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- Ad of Win
- Angry Marines Ruby Quest
- Ascended Meme: A meme ends up being made officially canon by the work it is derived from.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: A popular misquote which distorts what the original person/character actually stated.
- Candle Jack
- Caramelldansen Vid
- Catchphrase: A quotation that a fictional character is famous for frequently saying.
- Confucian Confusion
- Creepypasta: Horror fiction stories circulating on the Internet, frequently told in a first-person perspective as if reporting events that really happened.
- Discredited Meme: When a tired old joke or meme stops being funny.
- Fan Nickname: A nickname that fans of a work give to one of the characters.
- Fauxtivational Poster
- Fluffy Pony
- Forced Meme: An obvious attempt to create a new meme falls flat.
- Fountain of Memes: A character who tends to inspire memes.
- Hitler Rants: Parody videos consisting of edited clips from the 2004 film Downfall, featuring Adolf Hitler complaining about various weird subjects.
- Iconic Outfit
- Image Macro: Stock photos with funny captions.
- Inspector Spacetime
- Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: A character gets humiliated from an embarrassing video of them getting posted online.
- The Internet Is for Cats
- Interrupting Meme
- The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
- Meme Acknowledgment
- Memetic Hair
- Memetic Hand Gesture
- Memetic Personality Change: Fanon alterations to a character's personality.
- Memetic Badass: A fictional character (or a real person) is made out to be way more awesome than they actually are.
- Memetic Bystander
- Memetic Loser: A fictional character is made out to be more pathetic than they actually are, usually due to a humiliating defeat.
- Memetic Molester: A fictional character is interpreted on the Internet as some kind of sexual predator due to statements, mannerisms, and actions that can be seen as creepy and perverse.
- Memetic Psychopath: A nice character or ineffectual villain is interpreted on the Internet as an insanely violent jerk due to a Jerkass Ball moment.
- Memetic Troll
- Pothole Magnet
- Rickroll: The music video for Rick Astley's song "Never Gonna Give You Up" was often used to troll people through misleading links.
- Sans Gaming
- Signature Scene
- Stay in the Kitchen
- Stock Parody Jokes
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix
- Tendies Stories
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: The assumption that all women on the Internet are just men pretending to be women.
- Tropers Do It Without Notability
- Trope Names from Memes
- TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life
- The Ugly Barnacle
- Voice Clip Song
- Verbal Tic
- Virgin vs. Chad: A comparison meme in which two characters, the "Virgin" (a pathetic wimp) is contrasted with the "Chad" (a cool badass), with the Virgin and Chad being used to represent many different people or concepts.
- Watch It for the Meme: After seeing a particular meme, you decide to check out the original media source out of curiosity.
- Wrongfully Attributed
- X Called; They Want Their Y Back
- YouTube Poop: YouTube videos consisting of random clips edited together to create all sorts of bizarre scenes.