This has been a banner year for memes. They have come from a variety of unexpected places. There was the bizarre 11-minute whirlwind of sitcom parody, “Too Many Cooks,” Drake’s well-documented adoption of the lint-free lifestyle, Alex from Target, thrust unwittingly into the national spotlight of adoring teenage fans.
In honor of such a fruitful year, we’ve put together a list of our 10 favorites, from the political to the silly. Reminisce with us below.
10. Black Darren Wilson Supporter
Hello...911? I would like to report 3 black men in a car together, I think they're out looking for white women pic.twitter.com/OHJezdNNrI-- Graham Wellington (@LikwidCyance) August 17, 2014
Reporters managed to find the sole black supporter at a pro-Darren Wilson protest back in August. Martin Baker told the Guardian that the Ferguson protesters “want to see more crime, they want to see things get disrespectful.” He also accused Michael Brown of having a “criminalistic bent.” A blistering meme was born.
9. Hail Hydra
The Hydra Oath, from Marvel’s comic book series about a fictional terrorism organization, has existed for nearly 50 years, but it took on new and viral significance this year when it made a whispered appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Now, it’s a meme.
8. Tim Howard Saves Things
7. Sad Kanye
6. Lance Stephenson blows in Lebron James’ ear
Stephenson was still a shooting guard with the Indiana Pacers when he did something on the court in a game against the Miami Heat that was … weird. The meme that evolved was even weirder, and funnier. Even Nicki Minaj found the act inspiring.
5. Dancing Baby Groot
Few things brought us more pure joy this year than the ending of Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a dancing baby Groot. Even better: He proved equally charming in a variety of different musical styles.
It was the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ of times, it was the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ of times.-- Kevin Nguyen (@knguyen) May 13, 2014
The “smugshrug” may be the most efficient use of Internet slang we’ve ever seen, able to convey a complicated emotion (“an abdication of blame and a good-humored acknowledgement that shit, at times, happens, and there’s nothing we can do about it”) in a single kaomoji. And this year may have been its “golden age,” providing abundant examples of its necessity for communicating, really communicating, online.
3. Shmoney Dance
Like Dancing Baby Groot, the Shmoney Dance, popularized in the video for rap newcomer Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Nigga,” goes well with a variety of aesthetic pairings. And plenty of folks were more than up to the task, even Elmo and Beyoncè.
Perhaps the greatest gift to come from Beyoncè’s wonderful surprise album was the word surfbort. Without it, we never would have gotten surfbort merchandise (even if Queen B herself “misspelled” the word) or Vin Diesel’s own delightful attempt at “riding the waves.”
1. Mail Kimp
Correction, Dec. 18, 2014: This post originally misstated that Tim Howard's record-breaking saves at the 2014 World Cup occurred in a game against Brazil. It was in a game against Belgium.