Know your meme 2021 staff picks collage.

KYM Review: The Know Your Meme Staff's Favorite Memes Of 2021

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Every year at the end-of-year season, the Know Your Meme staff attempts to round up the most important memes in any given category — what were the key slang words of the year, the most viral TikToks, etc. Then we ask our users to vote for your favorite meme of the year.

Still, something felt like it was missing — What about the memes that we, the editorial team at KYM, really liked? What memes did Don repeat in the office for months after they peaked? What memes did Brandon spam the staff Slack channels with? For what memes did we have to whip out the bonk bat on PHam?

So this year, we decided to take a moment to celebrate some of our personal favorite memes of 2021, because even if they weren't necessarily the biggest or most prominent, they brought us joy as we worked to keep Know Your Meme running.

Adam

Midwest Emo Intro Parodies

I’m an emo kid at heart, so when TikTokers took to Duetting some of the cringiest yelling on the platform with twinkly riffs reminiscent of La Dispute, American Football, The Appleseed Cast, etc., I took to it like a moth to the flame. The combination really hit this year when TikToker @Justin_Jen_ paired a video of a teenage girl shouting obscenities at an apparent ex-love interest with a plaintive guitar lick. Other parodies that feature extended Duets to create full bands drove home TikTok musicians’ creativity and left me wanting full songs every time.

@justin_jen_

#duet with @leo_the_lion24 i have a cold. thanks @peripheralvision #midwestemo #painolympics #UltaBeautyatTarget

♬ Wifey material – Leo


Why So Many In The Radical Left Participate In Speedrunning

Veteran KYM-heads may remember a brief period where I ran The Weekly Discourse, a column devoted to roasting the most bananas hot takes on Twitter. Sadly, it’s no longer with us, but if it were, “Why so many in the radical left participate in speedrunning” would have entered the "Discourse Hall Of Fame." User @bronzeswords’ wild attempt to connect speedrunning to leftist ideology by incorporating “Petersonian” theory was one of the most masterfully bonkers hot takes in Twitter history. He argued that leftists wanted to promote communist ideology by showing how “doing it fast” over “doing it right” was actually sexy, and gave us arguably the funniest five words in the English language: “New Sexual Archetype (Fastest Mario).” It also inspired what might be the best YouTube video of the year, in which YouTuber Jehtt voices the hot take as Shadow the Hedgehog.


Let’s Go Mets

The reasons I loved the “Let’s Go Mets” meme are simple: I’m a New Yorker, I love the Mets and I love bait-and-switch memes. The trend of voice actors starting a dramatic monologue with “It’s not about the X…” before jumping into “…it’s about the Mets baby, let’s go Mets, alright, hit a home run, love da Mets baby” was so perfectly tuned to my sense of humor that it felt like the meme version of my personal Amigara Fault Hole. The addition of the “Let’s Go Mets” instrumental theme song, a staple of local Mets broadcasts, was a fantastic touch as well. The Mets perennially suck, but at least I have this terrific meme.


Ladies and Gentlemen, The Weeknd

Week-based memes such as It Is Wednesday My Dudes and Tuesday Again? No Problem are always welcome sights when trudging through another seven days on this bitch of an Earth, but perhaps none have been as comforting as Daniel Craig appearing on my timeline at 3 p.m. on a Friday to say, “Ladies and Gentlemen: the weekend.” The clip comes from a Saturday Night Live episode Craig hosted as he introduced musical guest The Weeknd, but Craig’s somewhat exasperated delivery helped it translate as the perfect introduction to the working man’s two days off. It also kicked off a trend of old SNL hosts introducing old musical guest acts, which was fascinating, if only from a pop culture history standpoint. Here’s to many more weekends introduced by Daniel Craig. After 2021, weekends don’t feel the same without him.


Philipp K

Ripbozo / PACKWATCH

While many may think RIP BOZO nothing more than a Crab Rave reskin – considering both memes come from iFunny and are used to dunk on dead people, dead projects and dead dreams – the 2021 format is a development reimagining Crab Rave’s legacy rather than a simple copy of it. For starters, Crab Rave could – and often was – misinterpreted as a wholesome format, with crabs dancing to funny music and all, with many post-iFunny examples having nothing to do with the angry irony of the original memes. You could never make the same mistake with RIP BOZO, which always goes for the jugular, starting to zero doubts: “I HATE that guy and I’m GLAD he’s dead.” Here’s to one of the rawest, most unapologetic formats of the year, the new meme sincerity that we always wanted and were slightly afraid of.


Amogus / Ironic Among Us Memes

First, everyone loved Among Us. Then, as it always happens in “thing too popular” situations, contrarians started to appear, making great memes that took the ironic angle at the overhyped game (see Among Drip). But Among Us was simply too big — in fact, so big, that the massive love brought massive enough reactionary wave to become mainstream. This rare meme phenomenon led to third-wave Among Us memes of early 2021, the post-ironic creative explosion described by total dissociation of Among Us memes and Among Us the game. The game didn’t matter anymore, the love and hate for it didn’t matter anymore and the word “amogus” was the funniest shit everyone has ever seen. Like an episode of mass hysteria, it really did happen, we really did all willingly take part in it, and yes, it was totally glorious. ඞ

AMOGUS Vertebrate Green Cartoon Human Organism Mode of transport Mammal Finger Gesture Line Font Art Sharing Happy Illustration

Schizoposting

Do you like doing a little trolling? Covering yourself in oil? Living in someone’s walls? Skipping your pills and spending some quality time with your imaginary waifu? Or maybe watching paranoia-infused Trollface edits on YouTube? If you said “yes” to any of these things, I salute you, fellow schizoposting appreciator.

Ripping Trollface from the early 2010s and putting it right in the heart of 2020s meta was a collective effort of many individuals, and no single person can get credit for this monumental achievement. For Trollface, despite its recognizable form, is no longer the Trollface we once knew — instead, it became the symbol of the darker, unstable and yet somewhat tricksterish parts of the fragile human mind, the symbol of trolling your handlers and getting trolled by your schizophrenia in return. In the end, the best thing about Schizoposting is that you can never tell how much of a LARP each particular meme actually is.


Sigma Grindset

“Driver Forever” by Sergio Valentino slowly plays. Words appear on the screen. Their meaning is extremely sociopathic. “Sextillionaire grindset” or something similar come next, along with the watermark @verywokeindeed. This is the start. This is where it all started.

While jokes about Sigma Males appeared a few months earlier, it was Sigma Grindset that launched the Sigma influence to the heights it managed to achieve. What made Sigma Grindset so appealing was everyone’s collective effort to keep up the joke, writing sigma-esque comments with serious faces just to keep up the charade and allow more villains, anti-heroes and comedy goobers to get exposed as sigmas. I can only hope future historians will be able to tell it was just a meme and the 2020s don’t get labeled “the Sigma decade.”


Petting My Cat Before the Nuclear Blast

A grassroots collaborative writing project packaged as a meme, Petting My Cat Before the Nuclear Blast stands out among many memes this year simply due to the level of creativity it managed to pull out of both Twitter and Reddit within the span of just a few days. The memes, or rather short stories of a person petting his cat in various scenarios, were tied into a single narrative with good and bad endings and many twists of fate. And while the story of the man and his beloved pet is quite over by now, this level of unity and creativity makes me hope for more Q U A L I T Y like that in 2022.

petting my cat after we survived the nuclear blast (we got me very lucky) Furbybrennan#7297 Cat Nose Cat Felidae Smile Gesture Carnivore Small to medium-sized cats Ear Whiskers Happy Font Internet meme

PHam

The Island Boys

There’s something undeniably special about the Island Boys, aka Florida rap superstar twins Kodiyakredd and Flyysoulja. Are they good rappers? Not really. Do they seem like good dudes? Highly debatable. But is the Island Boy freestyle a bop? Absolutely. Yes, it got the two booed off-stage recently. Yes, the lyrics are hard to understand and yes, the boys themselves look a little bit silly-willy. But all of that just adds to the fun we all had collectively loving to hate and hating to love those two skinny white boys with the pineapple haircuts who are just trying to make it like the rest of us. When the Island Boys showed up and wowed us with their one-of-a-kind freestyle the whole world stopped and took notice and nothing else mattered for a while, making this a very special meme. Plus, the song still won’t get out of my head.

@kodiyakredd

Reply to @tocoldabdir #flysoulja #redd4x #ForYouPizza #foryoupage #fyp #OneSliceChallenge

♬ original sound – Kodiyakredd


Nurse Carrying Poop

The Nurse Carrying Poop image came out of nowhere and just straight up clotheslined the public at large, becoming one of the most fascinating images of the year. Most people have never seen a human poop that big; I’d never seen a poop that big and still every time I look at the image I find myself shocked. Beyond the sheer size of the thing, it’s also incredibly smooth, with hardly a crack running up the entire log. The nurse and worker behind her are wearing masks but their eyes tell a lot, showing expressions that can only be described as fascinated horror. Besides, what is she doing transporting such an absolute unit of a turd down the hallway like that, just out in the open? Where did the poop come from? Where did it end up? I hope this image keeps on circulating for decades. Not only is it the easiest image of a turd to stare at possibly ever, but it’s also one of the funniest and most inspiring, showing us the great lengths healthcare workers go to to take care of us. God bless the healthcare workers and God save whoever took that poop.


Zamn She’s 12

“Zamn She’s 12” turned out to be one of the most flexible and explosive exploitable formats of the year. Not only that, but it also offers a chance to remind people how awful family channel YouTubers (the Prince family, in this case) have become, clickbaiting the most despicable things in their thumbnails and video titles for views. Such is the case with the meme’s source image, showing Damien prince going all cartoon-wolf over an allegedly (but not actually) 12-year-old girl. The meme takes this super dark premise and injects as much absurdity into it as possible, with the best versions offering full photoshops replacing Damien, the girl and everything in between to show new characters going gaga over a character of questionable age. I don’t know what the Prince Family thinks about the meme blowing up like it did and becoming an ultimate symbol of YouTuber degeneracy but one can only hope it taught them something.

SHE'S 12? ZAMN SHE'S SPICY Muscle Eyelash Brassiere Chest Thigh

I Thlammed My Penith In The Car Door

As far as images that go hard are concerned, Looney Tunes characters in gangster outfits smoking blunts is pretty much the hardest it gets. That’s why I was so happy when Daffy Duck yelling about slamming his penith in the car door went viral earlier this year. Seeing the 2019 meme become a full-blown song and inspire several high-quality animations feels like one of the most perfect evolutions of a meme in recent memory. It didn’t outstay its welcome, it didn’t blow up to the point of annoyance and it even joined forces with the PaRappa meme revival to create some truly standout animations. I wish Daffy Duck’s penith a full recovery.

I THLAMMED MY PENUTH IN THE CAR DOOR Cartoon Jaw Organism Font Water Happy

Mordetwi

Mordetwi didn’t start in 2021 but it came back in 2021 and my god did it ever come back. The absurd shipping couple was plastered all over every social media platform this year turning a super-niche meme into a global source of confusion and dismay. Then, just as things were getting truly out of hand, Hayley Williams herself saw the meme, admitting she had no idea what was going on with it as commenters blasted her comments with the memes. 2021 was the year Mordetwi went full circle and something tells me we haven’t seen the last of the meme yet.


Shroomjak / I Made My Own Wojak

I feel like a lot of people have forgotten about Shroomjak and that’s unfortunate because it really is a classic meme. The little guy sprouted up about as organically as a meme can these days, posted by some random anon who just drew a Wojak one day and wanted to share their creation for the lulz. The internet did the rest as people reshared Shroomjak everywhere, creating an explosive meme within days and somewhat renewing interest in Wojaks, which have just about settled into cringe territory at this point. It also ushered the way for some great new Wojaks and Wojak formats, like the Bearjak and ironic “who need they pussy ate” formats (more on that later). Shroomjak came, made its impact and went and now stands as one of the chillest memes of the year.

heart TELL ME THE NAME OF GOD yoU FUNGHL PIECE OF SHIT! can you feel your burning? can you feel the struggle within? The fear in me is beyond anything your soul can make. you cannot kill me in'a that matters way IM NOT SCARED OF you * Tears streaming dnun my face * Organism Font Happy

Brandon

NFT Stands For…

With the ongoing phenomenon that is NFTs, it was only a matter of time until a real meme was made about them. This one seems basic on the surface, as it’s just an acronym meme, but the applications as they relate to the cyber world are almost infinite. Plus, who doesn’t like some Nice F***ing Titties. (lmao you’re definitely going to have to change that Adam) (ed. note: you can't tell me what to do).

YEAH IM INTO NFTS... OFFICIAL SKULLERHOOD NICE F*CKIN TITS!!! SKULL TF ON I SKULL TF ON Font Bone Poster Skull Electric blue

That’s It? That’s The Lost Episode?

This meme reaction has crazy potential, and this year, clever memers were able to use it to mock almost anything imaginable. Sadly, it’s been glossed over for now, but there’s always a chance that older memes can be revived out of nowhere to enjoy their time in the sun. That’s It? That’s the end-of-year staff pick? It was just some normie memes!

THAT'S IT? THAT WAS THE MEME? THAT WAS JUST SOFTCORE PORN! ifunny.co Sleeve Font

Oh No, Cringe

Who doesn’t love cats? Who doesn’t love accents? Who doesn’t love music? This meme format uses a cat and select audio to portray how various cultures react upon seeing cringe.

THAT'S IT? THATS THE MEME BLURB? BRANDON BETRAYED US! imgflip.com Tom Kenny Patchy the Pirate Bird Purple Eyewear Thigh Font

Suez Canal Jam

The Suez Canal Jam was an absolute, unmitigated disaster for global trade, and led to untold billions in business-related losses around the world. However, online, the Suez Canal Jam led the way in creating hundreds of memes to everything from the situation, the fall-out on global markets, the efforts to fix it, and even the boat itself getting turned into an anime girl. 10/10 would cause again if I could.

中江五 EVERGREEN Suez Canal Water Light Sky Rectangle Sunlight Urban design Wood Morning Horizon Summer Tints and shades City Beauty


State’s Rights to What?

The discussion on the Civil War as it pertains to slavery has been ongoing for nearly two centuries. Finally, an answer that is so perfectly concise and impossible to retort was crafted: If the Civil War was about state’s rights … then the State’s Rights to what? Not even Tommy-Boy Jefferson himself can defend against this phrase.

The Civil War States' right to was fought over States' rights! what? Face Nose Facial expression Cheek Jaw Head Cartoon Line Chin Forehead Text Mouth Organ Human Parallel Smile

Owen

Beware of the Pipeline

As the femboy pipeline continues to engulf more and more unsuspecting meme creators, no other template can ironically embody the objectively hilarious and modern predicament. I’m kind of a sucker for exploitables. It’s interesting, for me, seeing how other people race to find the newest way to subvert a format. With an image as unnecessarily wholesome as this one, it was funny seeing the labels people put over each bastardized character.

BEWARE OF THE PIPELINE HE/HIM HE/THEY THEY/THEM SHE/THEY SHE/HER 20 17 20 1 8 20 1 9 20 2 0 20 2 1 Hair Hairstyle Leg Cartoon Sleeve Gesture Font Fashion design Waist People

Ironic Breaking Bad Memes

Ironic Breaking Bad Memes memes were heavy in my circle this year for two reasons: one, because I rewatched Breaking Bad over the summer, and two, I keep seeing Walt and Jesse on every tequila delivery truck in my damn neighborhood. If these memes proved anything to me, it’s that good acting is always way too dramatic to not become ironic. Something about Walter White crying can be so funny framed in the perfect shitpost.

LISTEN I'M TELLING YOU PEPE THE FROG IS PRETTY -FUCKING BASED BASED? YEAH. BASED AS FUCK BASED on BASED LIKE Y'KNOW OWNING THE LIBS JESSE WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT

Skinny Girl Walking Sideways

Yo. I love this woman. When I first saw her on TikTok, I had a Timmy Thick moment where I thought, “There's no way this isn’t a government psy-op …” I still think it might be. In general though, the rise of ironic memes centered on China this year (like Super Idol) reached a climax for me with this woman performing the most egregious flex. It was also fun to see people make fun of her and how people on other platforms had no idea why every TikToker was stepping sideways.

@arielomggg

#foru #walkinggirl #skinny #idonotrelate

♬ original sound – 🎼ariel🎼


This Pic Goes So Hard

As this catchphrase caught fire, a growing lore of “Pics That Go Hard” started to form that I thoroughly enjoyed. When I first saw the meme circulating iFunny back in August, I couldn’t resist screenshotting it myself. Like Breaking Bad irony, overly dramatic imagery is always the best for ironic content. “Pics That Go Hard,” also embodied this for me, because, "Why should this monkey be going so hard?" And I loved the way this meme morphed into a mode for shitting on NFTs because those monkeys definitely don’t go hard.

Zach

Think Mark

It’s tough to pick an absolute favorite meme from this year, but “Think, Mark” is probably the closest thing I’d choose if I had to. These types of redraws and exploitables are usually among my favorites simply because I love to see what sort of creative variations people come up with, especially when I recognize one that’s something I particularly enjoy, but Think, Mark stands out even more because it also includes captions and can be used as a snowclone — making it more versatile and humorous. Invincible was also one of my favorite shows to drop this year, so that might make me a little biased too.

wwww Cartoon Organism Gesture Art

Josh Swain Fight

I’m not normally one to love wholesome memes in particular, but the Josh Swain Fight was too damn wholesome to ignore this year so it’s making my list. These types of “internet meets real-world” events are something I usually love as well, whether they end up good like this or fail spectacularly like the Area 51 Raid. Considering the last two years of depressing news and other horrible shit, I feel like the Josh Fight was something everyone could sorta use when most of us were feeling down.

stramlabs Sky Plant Tree Crowd Grass Leisure Fun Hat Recreation Event

Trade Offer

As much as I loathe TikTok for the most part, “Trade Offer” was another one of my personal favorites from 2021. There are tons of low-quality or unfunny variants of this meme, but the really creative ones that almost made the original image unrecognizable save for the overall layout generated some great memes — not to mention some of the video ones. I guess I’m a sucker for references to things in newer meme formats that feel like only people in those communities or fandoms would understand.

ATRADE OFFERA i receive: Silence you receive: My money! 001 100 Cartoon Vertebrate Organism Gesture Happy Plant Font

Don

Chug Jug With You

For a time, Leviathan’s Fortnite-themed parody of the 2008 disco-funk song “American Boy” by Estelle wormed its way into the brains of every memer on the internet. While originally inspired by a shorter parody by YouTuber CM Skits, the song managed to perfectly satirize the phenomenon of squeakers, or the annoying children you hear talking smack in multiplayer games. While the song took over TikTok, it also spread to other platforms with references to the Tomato Town Massacre and its use as a song in the Wombo facemorphing app. Leviathan subsequently embraced his online fame and even did an interview with us about the meme earlier this year.


Who Need They ‘ussy Ate?

What started as a silly Wojak comic about long-distance romance morphed into one of the most absurd and idiotic memes of the year. The more ridiculous variations kicked off with a Doomer Wojak snail asking “Who need they shrussy ate?,” followed by a mushroom Trad Girl exclaiming “OMG me!” The internet then fell deep into the ironic abyss, creating a bear and a salmonussy, an ouroborussy eating itself and, most recently, a wizard pondering an orbussy. It’s the type of meme that thrives on being as dumb as possible, which earns my respect.


There Is No Such Thing As A Coincidence

It’s certainly no coincidence that William Knight snags one of my picks this year. In a sea of uninspired, ​​cliché influencers on TikTok, Knight was able to stand out as the type of unique character you don’t see every day. The video of him startling a jogger running through the woods was one of the funniest clips I saw this year, and his intense stare, bizarre spirituality and chill attitude made him one of this year’s biggest meme stars. I also think he seems like an all-around amazing dude, especially after we interviewed him back in July.




Looking for more of this year's best viral phenomena and memes? Be sure to check out our other 2021 meme roundups below:

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Abm

No thanks, take me back to the meme zone!

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