Memes in 2014: the best, including Mail Kimp, surfbort, and Lance Stephenson ear-blowing (PHOTOS).

The 10 Best Memes of 2014

The 10 Best Memes of 2014

Brow Beat has moved! You can find new stories here.
Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 18 2014 10:15 AM

Our Favorite Memes of 2014

Sad Kanye was everywhere in 2014.

Holly Allen for Slate.

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

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

USA soccer goalie Tim Howard broke a world record when he blocked 16 shots in a match against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup.* Clearly, he should just save everything.

7. Sad Kanye

Thanks to one photo of a forlorn-looking Kanye West on vacation with Kim Kardashian, Kanye would soon be sad everywhere. (Seriously, everywhere.)


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.


4. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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.


2. Surfbort

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. 

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.