2016 has widely been considered a tough year. But not all of 2016 was a downer. The Internet, as it often does, has provided plenty of hilarity in the form of viral memes to lighten things up.
We took a look at Google’s 2016 search trends and found the top 10 most sought-after memes of the year. From Harambe memes to the angry Michael Phelps face, these Internet creations will go down in online history as classics.
When Harambe the gorilla was shot in order to protect a small child who had wandered into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, public outrage ensued. The Internet, however, had other plans for Harambe, and used the incident as the basis for a series of viral memes that were hard to miss on social media, making Harambe the top trending meme of the year.
It’s no surprise that a meme making light of an animal’s death caused quite a bit of controversy, especially with the Cincinnati Zoo. The zoo deleted its social media accounts amidst a barrage of Harambe memes. During the 2016 presidential election, people even joked that they voted for Harambe as a candidate.
2. Damn Daniel
The “Damn Daniel” trend all started with a viral tweet, which featured a video of teenager Daniel Lara in his white Vans sneakers. Throughout the clip, Lara’s friend comments on his shoes, saying “damn Daniel.” You have to watch it to truly understand why this is Internet gold, and the second top trending meme of the year.
3. Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go is not only the top Google search of 2016, it is also the third most viral meme of the year. With the game’s U.S. release on July 6, it makes sense that only a few weeks later, the Internet had already gone to work creating memes.
4. Dat Boi
It’s difficult to trace the origin of “Dat Boi,” the meme featuring an animated frog on a unicycle, but several sources believe it was inspired by an older meme on Tumblr from 2015. While pinpointing the source for its popularity is tricky, “Dat Boi” skyrocketed to viral fame in May 2016, when the vast majority of the “Dat Boi” memes were created.
Adding even more humor to this meme, it appears the image may have come from a physics textbook, according to this Twitter user’s discovery:
5. SpongeBob Caveman
Perhaps one of the most visually hilarious meme trends of the year was SpongeBob Caveman, also known as Primitive Sponge. For any SpongeBob SquarePants fans out there, you’ll likely remember the 1999 caveman episode that created the magical creature that is SpongeGar. Fast forward to May 2016, when a Reddit user decided to bring back SpongeGar, sparking the viral meme trend that is now known as SpongeBob Caveman. This timing explains why a spike in Google searches for the meme started in late May.
6. Michael Phelps
If you watched the Rio Olympics, you’re likely familiar with the angry Michael Phelps meme. When the camera featured Phelps’ face in the holding room, as he was listening to music and preparing for his 200m butterfly semifinal, the Internet immediately moved to meme-ify the moment.
What resulted from this unintentional death stare was a series of memes that we are certainly not going to forget anytime soon.
7. Donald Trump
The Donald Trump memes started trending during the first presidential debate in September, and saw its biggest spike in Google searches in early November, when the election took place. Largely created as a response against Trump’s policies and statements, this meme trend was met with controversy from Trump supporters.
8. “Making A Murderer”
The Netflix original documentary “Making A Murderer” left many viewers convinced that Steven Avery was framed and innocent. This inspired a series of comedic memes in his support. Google searches for the memes spiked around mid-January, about a month after the show premiered on December 18.
9. Ken Bone
During the second U.S. presidential debate on September 29, undecided voters had the chance to ask candidates their questions directly. Ken Bone inquired about the candidates’ energy policies, and immediately became an Internet sensation.
The memes started rolling out within the next few days, causing a spike in Google searches.
During an appearance on the radio show “The Breakfast Club,” rapper Birdman went on a rant and abruptly walked off the show, thus sparking yet another viral meme trend. The first to poke fun at the awkward interview was an Instagram user who uploaded an edited version of the video, with Michael Jordan’s crying face over Birdman’s:
You can watch the full Birdman interview below:
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