25 of the best memes that got us through lockdown

Isobel van Hagen
Monday 12 April 2021 14:20
Showbiz
(Getty/ Kamala Harris Twitter screenshot/ @Jonnysun twitter screenshot/ @payoletter twitter screenshot)

In a year that most of us have spent all day and all night staring at some kind of screen, the meme has become the most prevalent and most comforting art form.

From the early days of the pandemic last spring, to the horrible second wave-winter, and then the year anniversary of the pandemic – there is something of a light at the end of the tunnel (touch wood) as vaccinations roll out and restrictions ease. As we hope this could be near the final stretch of the worst of it, here are 25 of the best memes that helped us make our days a little bit brighter.

Gal Gadot’s “Imagine” rendition

The fever dream that was this cringe rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, was led by actress Gal Gadot. If nothing else has remained constant throughout lockdown, it’s that most celebrities have no idea how to relate to normal people. The rendition of the song got immediate pushback and eventually fizzled out, but not before it was turned into a meme.

Go Piss Girl

One of the first, and perhaps weirdest, memes of quarantine was this strange Gossip Girl meme featuring Blake Lively, as Serena saying “I have to pee”, and Leighton Meester, as Blair, responding “Go piss girl” (a rearrangement of the TV show’s title). Unclear exactly why it’s so funny, but the template has been used in very niche ways.

Tiger King

Now take your mind, if possible, all the way back to this Netflix docu-series that was a staple for the first lockdown. The discourse on the bizarre and fairly captivating show full of giant cats, leopard print, weird music videos and alleged murder(??) of course spawned many memes.

LinkedIn / Facebook / Instagram / Tinder

Also known as the “Dolly Parton Challenge” as the queen of country herself started the trend...

Robert Pattinson

This random picture of actor Robert Pattinson dressed in a weird matching outfit and exuding a concerned energy also became a long-standing meme during lockdown.

The show villain vs The real villain

Over the summer, perhaps from watching too much TV, the internet took the opportunity to discuss who were the real villains of the screen. (This The Devil Wears Prada example was among the most popular).

Marriage Story fight scene

Adam Driver slamming his fist into a wall created prime meme content after the dramatic film came out on Netflix, just a few months before the throws of the pandemic.

I am going to create an environment that is so toxic

Here we find an absolute favourite of everyone in lockdown, that had a longer meme-lifespan than the rest. An old meme of Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester from the show Glee saying, “I am going to create an environment that is so toxic” had a real resurgence in 2020 year – likely because everything is just... so... toxic!

Hannah Montana leaves...

This clip of Hannah Montana looking sad and thoughtful leaving her home was a crowd-favourite of early 2020.

When it turned out everything was actually made of cake

When we all reached never-before-seen levels of existential dread somewhere in the middle of lockdown, Buzzfeed showed us all that nothing was as it seemed – and that everything was really made of cake.

I am once again asking…

And let us not forget the vast levels of political turmoil happening in tandem with lockdown. As the 2020 election and primaries were underway, a clip of Bernie Sanders saying “I am once again asking…” was instant meme material (Although, let us not forget his mittens either.)

This claim is disputed

In that realm, remember when former-president Donald Trump was allowed to have Twitter? (good times). But before his account was fully taken away from him for his incitement of a riot, there was an effort to push back at his stream of online disinformation. Twitter began labeling Trump’s tweets with the disclaimer: “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

People, of course, found ways to meme other ‘disputed’ facts.

I can’t talk right now, I’m doing Hot Girl s***

This popular TikTok trend turned meme uses lyrics from rapper Meghan Thee Stallion’s “Girls in the Hood” to showcase all the non-traditional “hot girl”-related activities to participate in.

Mike Pence vs. The Fly

Here’s a real throwback: remember when a fly kept landing on Mike Pence’s head during the Vice Presidential debates like some kind of horrible omen?

Nature is healing, we are the virus

Back to the beginning of lockdown, and people began spending inordinate amounts of time indoors – social media users began posting photos of nature returning to its natural state (clean water in the canals of Venice, etc.) This was obviously quickly distorted...

“Dreams”

TikTokker Nathan Apodaca skateboarding with a jug of Cran-Raspberry juice while lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” was arguably the biggest meme of lockdown. It inspired over thousands of tribute videos, including even Stevie Nicks.

They Don’t Know I…

Towards the end of 2020, “They Don’t Know I…” is a poorly drawn comic of a man standing alone in a corner watching other partygoers and thinking to himself about secret no one else knows or really cares about (or in some meme renditions, it’s obvious what the lonely man is thinking about).

Don’t worry about what’s in the vaccine

Anti-vax rhetoric has been a difficult part of lockdown, especially as vaccinating the entire population of the world is underway. As the internet tried to assure those concerned about what was in the vaccine, a hilarious meme format was born:

D.W. holding a fence

This image of D.W. – from the cartoon Arthur clinging onto a fence and longingly looking out – perfectly summed up everyone’s feelings throughout lockdown.

“After 2 weeks of multiple health screens…”

As things got more desperate for most people as the summer ended, Kim Kardashian shared photos from her 40th birthday party in another case of celebs not reading the room. Not long after posting photos from her expensive private island extravaganza pics, Kardashian got some meme blowback.

Four Seasons Total Landscaping

Lest you forget this perfectly meme-able location, credit to Rudy Giuliani for always providing ridiculous scenes.

“We did it, Joe”

Yes there was a moment of relief for many when Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in the run for the presidency, but soon a viral video of VP Harris telling Biden “We did it Joe. You’re gonna be the next president of the United States,” was mimicked and meme-ifed.

Me, still processing…

As we came close to reaching essentially a year in some form of lockdown, a meme of a man wielding a knife became a template for everyone who was still trying to process everything that had happened in the past year.

How it started vs. How it’s going

One of the most long standing meme formats of lockdown, this expansive meme format perhaps takes the cake for most amusing meme of the year. This later evolved in March 2020 vs March 2021 memes – as we all tried to grapple with the mentally and emotionally strenuous new lives we’ve been leading.

Shout out to all the memes that have made what feels like a never-ending cycle of lockdowns just a tiny bit easier.

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