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The 50 Greatest Internet Memes of 2012

These are the best Internet memes of 2012. Funny memes happen once in a blue moon, but new memes happen about 10 times per day at this point. Narrowing them down is ridiculous work, so we asked our own JF Sargent for help on this one. Here's what he had to say about his half of the list:

I think I'm just gonna be frank here: I am, right now, insane. I shouldn't be. I should be the picture of mental health, like I was yesterday. But that was before I agreed to catalogue the best memes of 2012 for Ranker. Before I agreed to comb through an entire year's worth of Internet, find the stuff it found interesting and then (this is the part that made me insane) explain why that stuff is interesting to you.

And that's the problem. Memes can't be explained, or catalogued, or understood. They can't be reasoned with. They can't be bargained with. They don't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

So that's what he had to say. So from "Gangnam Style" (this year's "Friday"), to a spoiled girl named McKayla Maroney, to the Overly Attached Girlfriend that ended up capturing everyone's heart, to memes that actually seem like they've been around longer but hit their peak this year, to the most recent Ikea Monkey, to the always adorable and amazing Grumpy Cat, here are the 50 most funny memes of 2012. Because you deserve it.

So let's check 'em out. Here are the funniest memes of 2012. Enjoy!

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  1. 1

    Gangnam Style


    "Gangnam Style" is kind of a big deal. Like, approaching a billion views on YouTube big. The lead single from Korean pop singer PSY's sixth album, PSY 6 (Six Rules), Part 1, "Gangnam Style" immediately started making waves on the Korean charts and began racking up YouTube views as soon as it was released in July.It started "slow" compared to where it's at now, generating about 9 million views a day in its first two months, and soon surpassed Justin Beiber's "Baby" video as the most-watched video ever posted on YouTube.

    I repeat, he unseated Justin Beiber as King of YouTube. If ever there was a sign the Mayan apocalypse may yet be delayed, this certainly qualifies.
    So what is this video, which as of December 18th has over 982 MILLION views, all about? It's about the posers that claim to be part of the opulent, Beverly Hills-like lifestyle the people that live in the Gangnam area of South Korea. Says PSY: 
    "People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are—it's only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are "Gangnam Style"—so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they're not".

    And dance fighting; serious, Derek Zoolander-inspired dance-off intense dance fighting. Aside from being a send-up of the poser culture, the mass appeal of the video centers around the intense choreography of PSY and his crew in the video including, but not limited to, the "horse dance" and the elevator shake. As you can probably tell by the number of views the music video has recorded, people cannot get enough of PSY and "Gangnam Style".
    He's become such a cross-over hit that he's appeared on the VMA's, Ellen, Jay Leno, and even a hilarious sketch with Seth McFarlane on Saturday Night Live.
    In October, as demand for PSY was hitting a fever pitch, he did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) for Reddit. These were some of the best Q & A's of the hour-long session.
    Q: Why were you so mad at that girl’s ass? 
     A: Because her ass was so mad.

    Q: Can I come and hang out with you in Seoul? 
    A: Call me maybe.
    Q: If you could collaborate on a song with any one artist / band, who would that artist be? 
    A: I love so many but if I had to choose one, Justin Bieber.
    (PSY! NO! Don't you know that a collaboration with the Beebs has the potential to bring on the apocalypse? Don't do it!)
    Q: Do you have a favorite Gangnam Style “spoof” video? 
    A: Ohio University marching band

    Also tops on the list of Gangnam Style parodies are: 
    Mitt Romney Style: 

    Lifeguard Style (sidenote: all of the lifeguards in this video were fired for improper use of public property after the video went viral): 

    Baby Gangnam Style: 

     On top of the countless gifs, video parodies, and reenactions, the song is now available in American karaoke establishments as well. There is no escaping "Gangnam Style" (not that you'd want to). And hey, if this wasn't enough Psy for you, check out the Ranker list of The Best Gangnam Style Parodies .

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    Election 2012

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    There were so many awful/awesome things that happened on the road to the 2012 Presidential election this year that they get their own sub-heading.
    Binders Full of Women

    The American public likes to pick and choose what it remembers about, well, everything. You know what I remember from Etta James' funeral earlier in the year? Christina Aguilera's potential, um, "lady malfunction".

    Didn't even remember it was Etta James that died (sorry, Aretha, thought it was you), but had a vivid recollection about the mystery slime trail debate. Was it bronzer? Was it her time of the month? We'll never know.

    What we DO know is that Mitt Romney has binders full of women.

    In response to a question about equal pay for women at one of the Presidential debates, the ex-candidate answered

    “I went to a number of women's groups and said, 'Can you help us find folks?' and they brought us whole binders full of women".
    Need a lady to do the job? Go see Mitt, he's got binders full!

    This was about the only thing America cared about that came from that debate, and reactions were immediate and sublime.

    There was even a song, which you can listen to if you want to be humming "Binders Full of Women" for the rest of the day.

    Orange Face Mitt Romney
    Since we're already on the topic of Mitt Romney doing weird stuff, let's talk about his visit to Univision.

    He looks like mother loving Snooki. It didn't really take off in the macros, but there was A LOT of speculation on message boards and the media alike that the governor had dyed his face to appeal to the Latino voting base. Legit, the guy looked like he'd spent the weekend with Tan Mom. 

    Clint Eastwood and Invisible Obama

    Surely, in an election year where Karl Rove had a public meltdown on Fox News, there couldn't be anyone crazier that the actual political players that would emerge from the election coverage, right?

    Wrong. Dead wrong. (In case you're wondering, that is a John Wayne quote, but there's no way- on that night- that Clint would have known he didn't say that).
    That is the video of Clint Eastwood having a conversation with an imaginary President Obama at the Republican National Convention in August. Eastwood made a surprise appearance at the RNC and posited questions like "how do you handle promises you made when you were running for election?" to a non-existent political figure. At one point in the "interview", he said to the Obama chair, "I'm not gonna shut up. It's my turn" which was super laughable because the 11-ish minute rant ran well over time and pushed the appearance of Mitt Romney out of primetime. Whomp whomp. 
    The internet responded to the appearance immediately, natch. "Eastwooding" images (pictures of people pointing at empty chairs) started popping up right away.

    And other popular meme figures found their way onto that empty stage to keep Clint company.

    SNL put in its two cents, of course. Not that they really needed to spoof what was already coming off as a complete farce.

    The best response, however, came from the POTUS himself.

    Beef Cake Paul Ryan

    We learned in the 2008 Presidential Elections that the last thing a Vice Presidential candidate needs is an IQ over 80, so is there really any shock associated with the GOP's nomination of a jock to run as VP on the 2012 ticket? THIS jock:

    Notice anything odd about that photo (besides everything)? Look again.

    This photo was taken for Time Magazine. TIME. Not The Onion, not Fitness Weekly, TIME. The photos, taken in 2011 when Ryan was being considered for the Person of the Year cover, were released hours before the Vice Presidential Debate. We see what you did there, TIME. Did I mention there were pictures (plural)?

    Has Paul Ryan heard of the internet, viral images, and/or Beats by Dre? I just don't understand. Here's how the internet interpreted the situation.

    Mitt Romney to Big Bird: "I Will Cut You"

    Again, as witnessed with the Binders Full of Women incident, the American public has a soft spot for the things that could be instantly memed, and in the first Presidential debate, it was Mitt Romney's statement to PBS journalist Jim Lehrer, the moderator, that if elected he would cut funding to PBS. Said Mittens:

    “I’m sorry Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS, I like PBS, I love Big Bird, I actually like you too, but I am not going to keep spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”

    In 2009, Sesame Street received $7.9 million in government funding. But, hey, that's really the feather that broke the trillion dollar deficit's back, right? People were pissed that of all the things Romney could pick on, it was the sweet, lovable giant bird we all grew up with. The gentle giant who totally didn't care when we hung out and bogarted all the Snack Packs for ourselves. THIS is who Romney wanted to pick a fight with. Well, he got the claws (claws are what birds would fight with, right?)

    On November, the Million Puppet March (redubbed from Million Muppet March) descended on Washington DC to show support for the cause of Big Bird and other performers with hands up their asses that didn't belong to big corporate interests. 

    If you're looking for more Election 2012 meme coverage, check out the complete list

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    Grumpy Cat

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    Dude. Let's paint some people, film it, and play a song over it. I bet we can totally get more views than those jerks pouring milk all over themselves.
    350 million views on YouTube. People watched Wally De Backer (aka Gotye) and Kimbra get painted and cry about a breakup so many times that it inspired a bunch of others to get in on the saddo gold. 
    Like Canadian band Walk off the Earth who filmed the five members of their band simultaneously playing the song on one guitar (no cups). Closing in on 140 million views.

    Singer Israel Curtis, who was really pissed (like everybody else living on Earth and breathing) about the "Nooooooo" heard 'round the world (or at least in a galaxy far, far away), gave the song a Star Wars flare.

    And then the Grammys gave it a nomination for Record of the Year to go along with its nomination for an MTV VMA for video of the year, so expect to hear about Wally's love life in song for a while yet.

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    Sh!t __ Say


    Like many of the best things in life, it all started with cross-dressing. And Juliette Lewis.

    Done in the vein of Sh*t My Dad Says and Sh*t That Siri Says, the series of episodes was a spin-off of the @Sh*tGirlsSay Twitter account conceived by comedians Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey which included tweets like "We should have tea sometime", "Don't care, don't care, don't care", and "First of all, ew". 
    Worth noting right off the bat is the fact that Episode 1 of "Sh*t Girls Say" was uploaded to YouTube on December 12th, 2011, but didn't produce these excellent memes we're going to talk about until 2012. There. It's all out on the table (unlike Graydon Sheppard's balls which were tightly wrapped up while shooting the episodes).
    The reactions: they started within weeks and offered "Sh*t" takes on Black Girls, Asian Girls, Drunk Girls, Single Girls...if it had a vagina, YouTube had a video about what it was saying. 
    Of course, because people were having a laugh at women's expense, it was instantly dubbed as offensive for sexualizing women (how this is possible when a guy is playing a chick housing a bowl of chips in pajamas is beyond me) and incitied members of the media to protest the meme's existence. Like that was going to stop the internet.
    African American comedian Francesca Ramsey, in a feature for the Huffington Post, did a response to everybody getting their panties in a twist and gave her version of the "Sh*t" series, "Sh*it White Girls Say to Black Girls". She played the white girl.

    Needless to say, controversy did not slow this meme from addressing every sub-category of women under the sun. Here are some of the better examples.

  6. 6

    Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

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    What People Think I Do/ What I Really Do

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    First spotted on Facebook, the What People Think I Do/ What I Really Do is a look at what different people think a person of a certain profession or occupation actually does. Because clearly, people were super confused about what was going on with the guy who plays computer games all the time.  

    The meme is alternately a way for people to build up what they do to make themselves look awesome, or a way to demystify a profession and/or seek sympathy because whatever the person making the meme does is so awful. Like being a pilot or an actor.

    That first "What People..." that came out of Facebook described what it's like to be a science student, which probably legitimately sucks.

    It was soon followed by the board for a Director, which saw one of the first instances that saw heavy re-posting.

    The meme itself is simple enough: six panels, five views, and then "what you really do". For instance, this is a pretty good representation of what I get up to on a daily basis.

    Except that I prefer Hearts to Solitaire. The meme was pretty much put through the paces of anyone that thinks they do something, ANYTHING, that's misunderstood by other people. In the course of a couple months it felt like the meme had been around forever.

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    Botched Ecce Homo

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    Who would have ever thought completely destroying a classic piece of art would lead to one of the best costumes of the year, Halloween or otherwise?

    Let's start from the beginning (not of time, just the painting). A church in Borja, Spain received a donation of a century-old fresco painting called Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man"). An elderly patron of the church, Cecilia Jimenez, desired to restore the painting, which was in deteriorating condition, and is said to have done so without the permission of the church (though she claims to have received authorization from a priest). This is the progression of the "restoration" from when it was first painted to the the time it arrived at the Santuario de Misericordia Church to the post-restoration attempt.

    The picture of the botched restoration (dubbed "Potato Jesus") exploded like a can of tan paint on Reddit, and the memes came pouring in.

    The woman who botched the restoration claimed to be experiencing panic and anxiety attacks over the attention the painting was receiving and went into hiding in her home...until the church started charging people to see the Ecce Homo.
    Like a miracle, the woman was able to get out of bed, leave her house, and put her hand out for a share of the royalties being collected from the exhibition of the painting. No word yet on whether she's collected any money or any additional restoration commissions. 

  10. 10

    KONY/HORNY 2012

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    In March of 2012, the non-profit group Invisible Children released a video titled "Kony 2012" that went into depth explaining the issues surrounding the use of Child Soldiers in Uganda. When the video went viral, armchair activists were shocked and vowed to do the absolute bare minimum to let everyone know how shocked they were, while professional social workers frustratedly massaged their temples in grim anticipation of how irritating the next few months were going to be. No, I'm not going to explain to you why the video is terrible. Look it up yourself. But things got even more complicated a mere month later when Jason Russell, co-founder of Invisible Children was… well, let's just let the meme explain: 
    Yep. He was caught masturbating in public while intoxicated by some unidentified drug, which forces us to assume it's "Cheese" because that's the funniest name for a drug. Naturally, people with barely-passable photoshop skills had a field day with this: 

    Masturbation, guys! Coupled with behavior indicative of severe emotional problems! comedy doesn’t get any more golden than this.
    Want more KONY? Check out this list of Best Internet Reactions to KONY 2012.

  11. 11

    Socially Awesome/Awkward Penguin

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    Apparently 2012 was the year we all voted penguin as the perfect avatar of our social ability. Or maybe it's not penguins in particular, but just this particular penguin right here:

      Image Hosted by
    Regardless, the internet (a bastion of awkward behavior turned rageful) decided that this bird, this bird, was the champion of all the awkward behavior in the world because… penguins, you know?
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    Image Hosted by

    Then the reverse happened: same Penguin, facing a different direction, began to champion the kind of behavior that Awkward Penguin longed for, but could never achieve:
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    I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why a penguin seems such a perfect fit for everyone on this topic, researching penguins life cycle and social hierarchy, until I stumbled across this unholy love-child of the two penguins:
      Image Hosted by
    And realized that I had done that. Exactly that. I guess it’s true: stare into the abyss long enough, and the abyss stares back.

    Check out more of Socially Awesome/Awkward Penguin in this list of The 50 Best Socially Awesome/Awkward Penguin Memes.

  12. 12

    The Ikea Monkey

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    In America, people dress up their small animals and bring them into stores with them all the time; if you don't slip on dog piss at Nordstrom's, you have clearly not had a complete day of shopping. So it must have been no big deal to see Yasmin Nakhuda's pet, Darwin, running around a Toronto IKEA; business as usual, right? Clearly not because-
    Darwin is a seven-month old Rhesus monkey dressed in a nicer coat than anyone looking for pre-fab furniture in Canada.
    This little guy (who is illegal to have as a pet in Canada) unlocked a crate and a car door in order to begin his journey through the cavernous maze that doubles as a furniture and home goods depot. His owner was shocked and terrified to find that her macaque has taken off, but let's face it, you really can't blame the monkey: who in their right mind would want to stay in the car when there are $.99 Swedish meatballs to be had? Or maybe he was just fleeing Canada for the US. Either way, you gotta feel where that monkey was coming from.
    Onlookers snapped picture and video, uploaded it to the internet while fighting over the last $1 toilet bowl brush, and aided Darwin's rise to instant viral superstardom. 

    While the internet is busy reveling in the misadventures of the IKEA Monkey, his owner is fighting with the government to get Darwin (and his coat) back.
    I wonder if The Smashing Pumpkins would get back together and record a new version of Bullet With Butterfly Wings in support of a Free Darwin project. 
    "Despite all my rage I am still just a chimp in a cage. Someone will say my coat's at the SPCA. But despite all my rage I'm still IKEA's chimp in a cage."

  13. 13


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    In July of this year a little indy film called The Dark Knight Rises opened in a couple obscure theaters in America. Despite having a meager budget and no-names actors, it actually managed to do pretty well due to it's strong characterization, bulletproof plot, and excellent pacing. Wait, I'm sorry, no: the exact opposite of all that happened. 
    Seriously, though, the most notable thing about the climax to Nolan's Cinematic Batsterpiece was the villain, Bane.

    Or, more specifically, his voice, which combined epically badass dialogue with a high-society accent and nigh unintelligibility. So the internet went nuts, making puns on his most famous bits of dialogue: "When Gotham is in ashes, then you have my permission to die."


    "Now is not the time for fear. That comes later." 


    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it." 

    To illustrate the difference between those and actual jokes, here is what a Bane meme looks like when it's funny: 
    And here's what it looks like when it's insane: 

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    Texts From Hillary

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    McKayla is Not Impressed

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    Gymnasts are, as a group, athletically awesome freaks of nature who will spend hours swinging around a PVC pipe, vaulting straight up into the air with no net, and doing backflips on and off a beam that's about three inches wide. Hell, some of them even make twirling a ribbon look cool. 

    They're a crazy-focused group who pursue perfection at all costs, and when they don't get it, they are not impressed.
    McKayla Maroney, as you may have heard, was not impressed with her performance in the individual vault competition at the the London Olympics this year. After leading the "Fierce Five" US Women's team to an All Around gold medal, she performed a nearly flawless first vault in the individual competition. She looked like a shoe in for the gold. Until she fell on her butt instead of landing on her feet during the second vault. Here's what that looked like.

    The ass-plant not only broke McKayla's 33-vault landing streak in competition, it dropped her into second place, and earned her the runner-up prize of silver medal. 
    Hey, silver! That's still pretty awesome, right? Not for McKayla.
    On the podium, staring up at some other chick wearing her medal (bitch.) McKayla just couldn't stand the frustration. In front of God, the Queen, and the world, she put on a face that looked slightly reminiscent of someone sticking a Dyson full-suction tube in the corner of her mouth and switching to the "on" position. 
    That is the kind of face that doesn't just get you into the Mean Girls club, that sort of gross disregard for the insanely impressive feat you've just accomplished is straight-up Queen Bee status.
    The internet immediately attached itself to the picture, generating memes aplenty... 

    Followed by a whole series of photoshops featuring the unimpressed athlete in front of situations considered by most to be pretty awe-inspiring.

    By far the best thing to come of McKayla's sour puss, though, was the recreation of the infamous expression when the US Women's gymnastics team met with President Barack Obama at the White House and he recreated the pose with McKayla.

    Check out more of McKayla with the Very Best of the McKayla Is Not Impressed Meme.

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    Ermahgerd (Berks)

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    If you think lisping is funny, have we got a meme for you.
    Ermahgerd! is "Oh My God!", written phonetically for added lisp effect. 

    Let's start with the original Reddit submitted entry.

    Did you figure it out? She's saying "Goosebumps, my favorite books". Let's take it up a notch.

    Of all the crossovers that came out of the Berks meme, the animal ones were the best.

    Oh, and the Halloween costumes were pretty epic as well.

    If this wasn't enough Berks for you, check out the Very Best of the Berks Meme.

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    The Queen is Not Amused

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    This is a perfect example of an image that doesn't fall into the trap that the cows did. During the 2012 Olympics in London, a picture of the Queen was captured that shows her looking disinterested and vaguely frustrated with the event.
     That's funny, but more importantly it allows room for elaboration. Why isn't she amused? Is she bitter? 
    What historical event might she be thinking of? 
    What pop culture icon does she resemble? 
    Look guys, jokes! Honest to God jokes! This originated on Tumblr, as far as I can tell. No one seems too sure of it's origin. It's kind of an obvious joke, really, and anyone trying to take credit other than the person who took the picture is probably full of sh*t. But more importantly, this: 
     May you never unsee that.

  18. 18

    Overly Attached Girlfriend


    First came the video that made you thankful that you only had a moderately attached girlfriend.

    Then came the memes...


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    Bad Luck Brian

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    You thought you had bad luck? Wait until you meet Brian.


    If this wasn't enough Bad Luck Brian for you, check out The Very Best of the Bad Luck Brian Meme.

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    Skeptical Third-World Kid

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    From the pages of Quickmeme came Skeptical Third-World kid, a youngster in what would appear to be a poor area of Africa that can't- nay, won't- believe that people in the first world engage in activities of excess, generally to do with food and water. 

    If I were that kid, I'd be pissed too. 

    The dubious youngster was a hit on the college meme boards, offering critique of the academic life.

    And, of course, wondering why the hell we don't share the wealth. 

    Wondering what else pisses the kid off? Check out The best of the Skeptical Third-World Kid Meme.

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