internet The 20 Greatest Internet Memes of the 1990s  

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List Rules Meme must have appeared in the '90s, not just reference something from the decade

As early as the ‘80s, there were precursors to the Scumbag Steves and the Socially Awkward Penguins of the world. The ‘90s, though, were the decade that made it harder to drag yourself away from the computer and into the harsh daylight of the "real world." Nobody knew it at the time, but the '90s were swimming in memes.

Here’s your history lesson on memes, which is clearly better than any other history homework you were going to pretend to do today.

Prologue to the Top 20: Yes, you'll notice that "All Your Base" is not #1; hell, you may even be commenting on that before you get around to reading this. Fact is, if this were a Top 20 Greatest Memes of the 1990s (and the First Couple Months of 2000) list, "All Your Base" would be #1 with a bullet. But it's not! So go look at some Goatses and wait for the list of the 2000s to come out so you can bitch about the fact that something that hit the web on January 2nd, 2010 isn't on THAT list.

Check out more lists like the hilarious 'how to internet' guides from the 90s, the best scary memes, and the top memes of all time


A man, his hands, and his anus. Save for certain parts of the Internet population, this is not an image you’re going to seek out on your own. Hence the beginnings of one of the original bait-and-switch shock sites on the web, the goatse.

In what could be dubbed the father of the Rickroll, the Goatse marks that time in a person’s life where an initial reaction of horror (hopefully) turns into a humorous reaction after the shock subsides. “Oh my God, I can see that man’s prostate!” becomes “Oh my God, I just saw that man’s prostate! I bet Bill will think this is hilarious, too.” The original (which is no longer found at was literally a man spreading his butt cheeks for all to see (presumably because he was really excited about what the proctologist had to tell him that afternoon).

Now, in case you're looking for some real man jelly and not just the strawberry variety that led the Goatse recap, you can continue scrolling down to see the =O= riginal shot.

Hey! Don't want your boss to walk by and see somebody's colon staring back from your desktop? DON'T SCROLL DOWN!

OK, you've carried on. You're either not at work, or you have a boss as twisted as you are. Please continue.

Did you really want to look at butthole today? Because that's what Goatse is. OK, just checking.

Did you scroll down on purpose or did you decide to keep pressing your luck? Do you think we're playing Goatse chicken here? Listen, if you keep scrolling, it's going to be a man, not a muppet, next time. You've been warned.

Click here and you're going to see the real Goatse.

Oh my God, that was really it! Well, if your desire to see goatse in more comedic forms has not been extinguished after that, click here to check out the Ranker spread on Goatse.

??? Profit

Oh, South Park, only you could point out the obvious flaws in the corporate money quest by using underpants and gnomes. It all blooms in Tweak’s bedroom, where he claims gnomes are stealing his pants for profit. Upon finding out this is true, the South Park gang seek to understand the gnomes’ business plan, consisting of three easy steps:

1) Collect underpants
2) ???

Brilliant in its simplicity except…oh yeah, no one knows where the profit - like Bill O’Reilly’s rolling tides - comes from.

Every Time You Masturbate...

God kills a kitten.

Do you want to bear that responsibility? Baskets full of fuzzy, cheerful, bright-eyed, soul-having kittens - all dead because YOU couldn’t handle your self-pleasuring needs?!

I think not! Hence the origins of the anti kitten-hate propaganda of the late 1990s are revealed.

Though the images of two Domo monsters chasing down a hapless kitten in a green field became more popular in 2002,

the concept first found its way to the kitten-hating public in May of 1999 on the pages of BarFly Magazine. Leave it to a drinking publication to extoll the virtues of NOT having a wank (when you could have a drank).


Better than duh, better than dur, it’s derp!

The all-encompassing exasperated utterance of idiocy. Tracing its genesis to the Trey Parker/Matt Stone movie Baseketball, the boys - after being caught going through a drawer full of unmentionables they believe to belong to the hot chick of the house - runs from the room dropping the “derp” when it’s discovered that the panties, vibrator, et al. belong not to the hot chick, but to her mom.

Often characterized in picture memes by characters whose eyeballs jut out to either side, the word is a four letter admission of an absurd fail in humanity.


This Looks Shopped

Referencing Corel’s Paint Shop Pro, the statement is meant to be both a subtle and obvious reference to a badly edited picture. Think Madonna’s head on Taylor Swift’s body; nobody’s buying that.

Of course, in the '90s, when dial-up was still all the rage and desktop HD monitors were a decade away, what was the harm in dropping Barbara Walter’s head on Jennifer Aniston’s body? Oh right, EVERYTHING.



Like the hipsters who knew about Deathspell Omega before they were mainstream (they’re French meta-physical black metal omega lords, in case you didn’t already know), you feel the need to express to the Internet at large that you were the first person to discover a post. Whether or not you took the time to read it or make an actual comment on it, you were the first person to see a link and click it, you goddamn genius, you. The world, and all the other posters to follow, thank you for your genuinely thoughtful insight.


Hampster Dance

Holy sh*t, a dancing hamster!

Must. E-mail. Everyone.

The dancing hamster craze started when Canadian Deidre LaCarte’s best friend challenged her to a web page view contest. Deidre’s bright idea: animate her hamster THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY TWO times doing different dances moves to a nine second sample of a Roger Miller song.

It was a popular e-mail, blog, and bait-and-switch share, and was even sampled in a 1999 song by The Cuban Boys. The song peaked at #4 in the UK, besting ‘90s faves like Sugar Ray, Crash Test Dummies, Smash Mouth, and LFO. Thank you?

Demotivational Posters

MOTIVATION. If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

Let’s face it: Some people need a slap of reality right in their gaping smile of a pie hole. Anyone who thinks a kitten can hang in there, dangling from a tree branch for eternity should probably check the date their motivational poster was printed (thank you, Marge Simpson).

Demotivational posters - which came about in 1998 courtesy of Despair Inc. - are the equalizers to those infernally optimistic posters hung in the offices of every corporate buffoon who has ever asked you about a TPS report. If this poster

had been hanging over your boss’s boss’s desk the last time he went in for a promotion talk, maybe there would be less of an appearance of inbreeding in the higher rungs of your company by now.