The internet was relentless in its reveling in, and mockery of, genre TV and films this year, making memes out of every superhero and jumping all over the silly things pushed forth by sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Whether these gags were simply for those fans who were online addicts scrolling through Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram to look for jokes, or for the public at large after exploding beyond the scope of the online nerd, these were the memes that shaped the year.
Some were giant franchises pushing out adorable creatures seemingly manufactured for repostable jokes. Some were simply strange things that the community of geeks decided were amusing enough to keep talking about. Regardless of their origins, it's the impact that matters most. The pop cultural state is affected more than ever by memes, as they inspire merch and meetups alike, so those looking to document any meaningful history of the year in genre must respect 2019's memes.
Check out the most memorable ones:
The internet's boyfriend had another great year as one of the only celebrities to simply be a meme by existing. From playing himself in a rom-com to becoming the face of a video game to returning to Bill & Ted after a hiatus that all fans agree was far too long, Keanu Reeves was back in the headlines and back in fans' meme-making hearts. He even showed up as an actual tumbleweed named Sage in the trailer for the upcoming SpongeBob SquarePants movie Sponge on the Run.
Bird Box blindfold challenge
Few other memes this year were as dangerous to the memers' health as the Bird Box Challenge. Based on the blindfold-clad characters from the Netflix film of the same name, the meme led to parents blindly yanking children around or teens feeling their way around the house. Havoc ensued. Netflix even issued a warning to fans not to do this, but by that time the meme was in full swing — kicking off a year of weird viral trends.
Whatever Cats is
OK, what's going on in Cats? Does anyone know? Why are the cats only dressed some of the time, and then only some of the cats? The CGI creations stunned the internet in the weirdest ways possible, as the stage adaptation spent so, so much money turning A-listers into furries.
Nothing screams "new version of Star Wars" like another re-edited version of the standoff between Han Solo and Greedo. When the classic film hit Disney+, fans were shocked to see a new iteration of the scene. Greedo still shoots first, but now he also says a final one-liner to Han ... and it sounds like "Maclunkey." Is it a '70s cop? The sound of a speeder-bound stormtrooper smacking into a tree at full velocity? Eventually even Disney got in on the ribbing that came afterward, adding a Greedo icon beside the hashtag.
Big blue Genie Will Smith
He might not have been transformed into a cat, but Will Smith's big blue genie from the live-action Aladdin was an uncanny bridge too far for some online fans of the fantastical animated original. And then he started rapping. The jokes started with the first look, continued with the trailer, and didn't quit until well after the movie had finished its successful theatrical run. He's just so smooth and blue.
Sonic the Hedgehog's terrible teeth
Has a meme ever been so expensive? The internet roasted Sonic the Hedgehog's first foray into the live-action space so hard that the animation team actually went back and redesigned the character. But really, just look at those nasty little teeth. Yeesh.
Invading Area 51
The world became obsessed with aliens in 2019, and not because of any new sci-fi film on the horizon. Instead, it was the viral campaign to invade the government's secretive Area 51 facility, bolstered by the tongue-in-cheek claim that "they couldn't stop us all." Did fans find aliens? No. Did they make a lot of jokes about it? You bet they did. They also organized a large alien-centric gathering in the middle of the desert, so it was one of the more powerful memes of the year.
Ant-Man crawling into Thanos
As Endgame madness overtook the world, some genre fans got a bit cheeky with the way in which the Avengers might defeat the snapper himself, Thanos. And "cheeky" is indeed the correct word, since one of the prevailing memes was that Ant-Man would shrink himself down, go inside Thanos' butt, and expand — gibbing the seemingly invincible Mad Titan. It didn't quite go down like that, but the theory even made it to Paul Rudd, the Russo brothers, and Thanos himself, Josh Brolin — so the meme did what it came to do.
Joker's staircase dance
"The dance of freedom. The death bells. The rising of the Joker." With this phrase and a little help from Joaquin Phoenix's oddball physicality, Joker's staircase dance became a smash meme. It might not truly be "one of the most magnificent, sublime, monumental, extraordinary scenes in cinema history," as the original poster described it, but it's certainly fun enough that setting it to any music (or describing any silly dance as such) has been a blast.
Coming in hot at the end of the year, the Child, aka Baby Yoda, sipped his soup as every other 2019 meme fell at his presumably adorable feet. The tiny robed creature from The Mandalorian didn't really even need to have a joke associated with his sweetness — he just had to exist. Of course, the internet made him the new Kermit drinking tea on top of all the other roles Baby Yoda would come to play, but before all that and at his core he's simply the cutest thing to happen all year in the world of genre.