Literally from the get go in 2021, the internet was serving up viral delights that were just begging for meme treatment. We've had chaotic parish council meetings, politicians’ unusual fashion choices and container ships bringing a halt to international trading. And we've also had those classic type of memes that seemingly come from nowhere only to dominate your timeline for months on end.
So, as the embers of 2021 are dying out and we look forward to whatever 2022 can offer us (please be better) we can at least celebrate the best memes of 2021 and we have to say that it has been a stellar year.
30. Let’s Go Brandon
Few right-wing memes are actually funny and ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ barely gets a chortle out of us, but to see Trump supporters twist a case of mistaken chant at a NASCAR race into a way of mocking Biden, is almost, almost impressive. Inevitably it will probably end up the subject of a documentary as the joke already appears to have gotten way out of hand.
Even Google is in on it. #LetsGoBrandon https://t.co/DWZzzO6dJp
In one of the strangest moves of the year, Facebook decided to expand their empire and in doing so changed the company’s overall name to ‘Meta.’ Given that Mark Zuckerberg is hardly the most popular person on the internet, it was rife for meme treatment.
28. Francis Bourgeois becomes the internet's favourite trainspotter
TikTok star Francis Bourgeois simply loves trains and his videos about spotting his favourite locomotives are possibly the most wholesome things on the internet right. He’s such a big star that he’s appeared in adverts with Thierry Henry and can even do his hobby full time. In a rare twist, the memes about him aren’t done mockingly but are affectionate in tone as he’s given a lot of people joy this year.
In November, Twitter became obsessed with a word that would sound ridiculous if you used it in real life: Yassify. The meme basically involves taking pictures of celebrities or characters from movies and making them look way more glamourous and attractive than they already are. It’s daft but what meme isn’t?
The Let It Be footage is insane https://t.co/Pij3lttdYG
26. Jeff Bezos goes into space on a crudely shaped rocket
In July, Amazon founder and one of the richest men in the world, Jeff Bezos blasted off into space, albeit very briefly. While this was no doubt a historic occasion for the billionaire all anyone could talk about was the rather NSFW shape of his Blue Origin rocket.
Congrats to Jeff Bezos on his successful rocket launch. And also for totally not overcompensating for something https://t.co/fI3OMxiaVQ
Marvel’s WandaVision proved to be one of the year’s best TV shows and produced many infectious memes that people couldn’t get enough of. However, the twist that Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha was the villain (all along) gave us a meme that keeps on giving all these months later.
“Imma call you right back” https://t.co/AYtPDXazQE
22. The Weeknd gets lost during his Super Bowl performance
The Weeknd’s half-time show at this year’s Super Bowl might not have been the best the event has ever seen but it did give us a fantastic meme as the Canadien singer got lost in a hall of mirrors giving us all flashbacks of getting lost in a shop as a child.
6 year old me looking for my mom after I lost her in the mall
#SuperBowl #TheWeeknd #PepsiHalftime https://t.co/s86wNuIuQE
Tony Blair only really pops up now when he wades into the latest Labour dispute so it was nice to see him in the news for another reason this year - namely his peculiar mullet haircut, which made him look more like a weary time traveller from a 19th-century novel than a former world leader.
Tony Blair is slowly transforming into Doc Brown https://t.co/9NYzfHqdqn
In the absence of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz emerged as the Republican figure who is ridiculed on an almost weekly basis on Twitter, usually because of his own doing. Back in February, while his state of Texas was experiencing a deadly winter storm, the senator decided to take an ill-advised trip to Cancun, Mexico drawing a lot of comparisons to a scene from The Simpsons.
Ted Cruz making a video statement later today https://t.co/65xZcUG5bz
19. Salt Bae opens up his new restaurant in London
If Francis Bourgeois was the lovable viral hit of the year, spreading wholesome content, Salt Bae was almost the antithesis to that heartwarming trend. Turkish chef, Nusret Gökçe, who in all fairness has been a meme for years, had a sudden resurrection as a viral joke due to his incredibly expensive new restaurant.
When Jamie, Connor, Kevin and Alex went on a night out in Birmingham in 2019 they couldn’t have predicted that two years later that a picture from that night would become a meme, mostly thanks to their questionable outfits. Their picture was everywhere in the first few weeks of January and coincided with one of the best TikTok trends of the year too - the sea shanty.
Definitely one of the most controversial and baffling memes of the year came from Chet Hanks (yes, his father is Tom Hanks)and his White Boy Summer. The idea was that Caucasian men could experience the same sort of liberation that women enjoyed during ‘hot girl summer.’ Hanks’s rules for the occasion were pretty in-depth and he even started making merchandise for it but it never really manifested itself in anything beyond memes.
HEARD IT WAS A WHITE BOY SUMMER https://t.co/DNWxI1nPL3
16. The sudden rise and fall of the European Super League
In April, club football as we know was threatened by the emergence of a breakaway league involving 12 of the top teams in Europe announced that they would be forming a Super League and leaving the Champions League competition, widely seen as the elite club competition in world football. However, the backlash from fans was so visceral that within days the whole thing was abandoned leaving us with just the memes to savour.
"I once created a European Super League but screwed up the launch so badly it collapsed within 2 days after all 12… https://t.co/YZQPYnbATF
14. Lady Gaga, Jared Leto and Adam Driver strike a pose
Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci was definitely in the conversation for the most memeable movie of the year, but that award went elsewhere. However, its UK premiere gave us a superb meme as the stars of the film Lady Gaga, Jared Leto and Adam Driver, all adorned in contrasting outfits struck a pose on the red carpet and thus a meme was born.
Quality Street, Roses, After Eights https://t.co/NymcCAMkim
The Met Gala is always a prime event for meme inspiration and this year’s provided us with a doozy in the form of Kim Kardashian and her striking head to toe outfit. Although the outfit was worthy of the meme by itself it was taken to another level when Kim posed alongside her sister Kendall Jenner who was in a less amusing outfit.
me and my anxiety when i go out #MetGala #MetGala2021 https://t.co/nqP8JQ2Fc3
Rarely did a day go by during Euro 2020 where we weren’t provided with an incredible new meme. We had the tiny car carrying the match ball, the Switzerland fan losing his mind as his team beat France and Scotland’s David Marshall getting tangled up in his goal net. Our favourite has to be the uncanny likeness between England midfielder Jack Grealish and Keira Knightley in the film Bend it Like Beckham.
How it started. How it’s going. https://t.co/TPuPIY0Y04
It’s rare that you get a good meme from the radio but in late October, the UK’s TalkRadio station created a moment that is likely to live on in infamy for years to come when presenter Mike Graham attempted to interview Insulate Britain activist and boldly claimed that concrete could ‘grow’ like a tree. Despite doubling down on what he said and claiming that he used the word metaphorically, it didn’t stop the memes blossoming online.
I only planted this back in March! #concrete https://t.co/Ft254QqNbB
Few MPs unwittingly embodied the true spirit of a meme quite like Matt Hancock this year. When he wasn’t running away from the press or walking like a zombie the former health secretary was caught having an affair with one of his aides in his office on CCTV. Given Hancock’s status as a bit of an Alan Partridge of the political world, the memes were both unbelievably funny and incredibly awkward.
God this is even worse with the audio https://t.co/PAWVtisRor
Memes have a habit of plucking things out of obscurity and creating a joke out of it. A prime example of this was a still image from the 2002 Spider-Man movie starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. The internet turned it into a meme where it looked like Mary Jane was defending Peter Parker despite the actual scene being anything but that...
He not unemployed he’s a Twitch streamer https://t.co/wCQwgm6DlK
Let’s not skirt around the issue, if you are a die-hard Dune fan, memes about the complex sci-fi franchise have been around for years but the release of the awe-inspiring new film starring Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya kickstarted a new wave of Dune memes that definitely got the spice flowing again.
best line in the whole movie https://t.co/BXVst2tbqN
The long-awaited Friends reunion might not have been what fans were hoping for as, in all fairness, it was just a glorified clip show. Yet it did give us an absolutely fantastic meme as people couldn’t help notice that Matt LeBlanc (who has clearly enjoyed his post Friends life) looked just like an Irish uncle.
‘And you paid for them jeans like that ya did, with all them holes already in them?’ https://t.co/mpKFmuevfM
6. Oprah is stunned by Harry and Meghan's revelation
Without a doubt, the biggest television moment of 2021 was Oprah’s much talked about interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. There were memes aplenty that came out of the interview but the best was when Harry made a huge revelation to the stunned reaction of Oprah.
An enduring image of 2021 was Senator Bernie Sanders sitting crossed legged, wearing his mittens looking completely unmoved by Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony. Considering this happened in January there is a possibility that Sanders has now been Photoshopped into every feasible scenario ever.
Some of my best work honestly #BernieSanders #TheLastSupper https://t.co/T289rAQfUN
4. Jackie Weaver and that chaotic Handforth Parish Council meeting
Before February 2021, we doubt many people had even heard of the Cheshire town of Handforth and almost nobody would know what a parish council meeting was. Yet after their chaotic meeting became an international viral sensation the names of Handforth and more importantly, Jackie Weaver will live on in internet infamy.
24 hours after breaking the internet, Jackie Weaver has now taken over drill. 🌍🔥 #jackieweaver #noauthority https://t.co/FQe8dnGieT
If you haven’t been on Twitter during a weekend this year and not seen Daniel Craig, warmly welcoming you to the weekend and blowing off the shackles of the previous five days, then you probably haven’t been on Twitter. Oddly, this was actually a moment from 2020, when Craig hosted Saturday Night Live when The Weeknd was the musical guest - which makes this the second time the Canadian artist has appeared on this list.
— ladies and gentlemen, the weekend 😌 (@ladies and gentlemen, the weekend 😌)
2. The Evergiven blocks the Suez Canal
When we look back to 2021, few stories will sum up the despair, hope and gallows humour of the last 12 months quite like one of the largest cargo ships on the planet getting wedged on the banks of the Suez Canal and effectively shutting down global shipping routes for a week. It proved to be one of the most unusual stories of the year but the images of the Evergiven being hopelessly stranded proved to be all the inspiration that people needed to create some truly amazing memes.
Some memes are great for a week or so (see Bernie Sanders and the Suez Canal ) but their fire soon burns out quickly. However, some memes are meant to live on forever. Think Spongebob or the distracted boyfriend meme - formats that are so perfect that they’ll never get old. Entering this elite group of memes was a scene from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones a maligned film that has somehow seen a resurgence in relevancy thanks to a meme involving Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen’s respective characters in the movie. The premise of the meme is to call out red flags as the two actor’s conflicting facial emotions was the perfect template for those wishing to expose something that didn’t agree with...even if the original scene doesn’t work for the format.