The 15 Essential Memes of 2017

The dankest.

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If Nero fiddled as the world burned, we in 2017 fidget-spinned—and made memes about it. But humor has always been a weapon against injustice, and when do we need a succinct expression of the human condition more than in times of discord? Here, in case you've been living without an internet connection/want to relive the year/are making a time capsule for future archaeologists to dig up, the most crucial memes of 2017.

Bella Hadid's Sneaker Interview

From the Complex video that brought you the iconic catchphrase "Homeboy's gonna, like, [millennia pass, humankind evolves to have gills] get it" comes memes upon memes marveling at how Bella Hadid talks. (Like Steve Buscemi pretending to be a youth, to reference another meme.) At least it's not quiet for dope homeboys on the Internet.

Distracted Boyfriend

What "making it" looks like—if you're a stock photo. By now, there must be hundreds of variations on the theme (meme) of someone neglecting something for something else. So relatable, so versatile.

Quick Maths

Do you know Big Shaq? If not, where've you been? He's brought us "2+2 is four, minus one, that's 3," but also "man's not hot" and "the ting goes (skrr)," all in one of the best rap records of the year. Still not sure if this is one long art performance piece on the tropes of the roadman, but it brings joy, so support.


Pennywise the Clown

People think this child-eating clown is hot, so there's that for our collective mental health. But at least they've also taken to the popular "down here we [insert thing preferable to reality]" sewer-climbing bit of the film as a nostalgic device.

The Floor Is

In 2017, adulting is hard, and the regression is real. This is why grown people are playing that childhood game where you jump onto surfaces not touching the ground, even though real molten rock would definitely sear right through a cushion, Sandra. This trend then evolved to reference things celebrities and politicians avoid, like awards shows (Justin Bieber) or the veracity of climate change (Republicans).


Beyoncé Ordering

New Beyoncé photos = the meme factory goes into overdrive. Unaccustomed to the sight of their idol doing something as mundane as ordering from a menu, the internet put all sorts of imperious, Beyoncé-y words in her mouth.

Meryl Shouting

Like complete the phrase but with more Britney lyrics. And quotes. And jingles. (This one really shows that some things, like Britney, are truly universal.)

Lounging Diddy

Origin: the Met Gala, during which Diddy, perhaps in need of a break from posing, sat on the steps. Used to convey extra-ness.

Displeased Pope Francis

And they say memes are a waste of time—this one's got politics. When the president and the pope met at the Vatican, the latter's stern expression launched a thousand interpretations, including the example, which accomplishes cross-meme population with a classic movie-trope model that rose in popularity two years ago.


More world events! When Trump met King Salman of Saudi Arabia and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, this not-quite-benign-seeming photo opp happened. Then came the memes. (FYI, the crystal ball thing was just a fancy globe.)

Fidget Spinners

Half derision, half sheepishness.

The Snapchat Hot Dog

Nobody can quite put her finger on why Snapchat's savior has struck such a chord with the public—probably because it's dopey but stupid but inexplicably hilarious—but it's here, and the weirder the context, the better.


You know this one.

Kendall Jenner's Pepsi Ad

After the soda company reduced the solution to World Conflict to...their soda, the internet went in. The historical ones are the best, which again demonstrates the informational potential of memes.

Salt Bae

It's been a weird year.

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(Image credit: Marie Claire)
Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.