Election years are always crazy, but few years have turned out to be as much of a crazy show as 2016 was. We watched as a racist, misogynistic orange reality TV star became our President-elect, we mourned the loss of a gorilla as if he were a national treasure, and we laughed uncomfortably as the world around us seemed to fall apart. In an attempt to bring some lighthearted fun to an otherwise dark year, the internet gave us some of the funniest memes ever. If you somehow have been living in a cave with no access to the world wide web in 2016, here's what you missed!
15 Sith Lord Kermit
Let's be real, 2016 brought the dark side out of pretty much all of us. We lost a number of beloved celebrities and musicians, a variety of our childhood role models were revealed to be total creeps, a cruel reality TV host became our President-elect... it's no wonder we pretty much snapped this year. The Sith Lord Kermit meme that went viral in the year's last few weeks covers our fall into darkness perfectly. We all have two voices in our head—a voice of reason, and a voice of laziness, frustration, hatred and anger. This year, we all gave into the latter voice a bit too often. "Look, a fluffy puppy! STEAL IT." "I'm so happy I'm finally saving money! SPEND IT ALL!" "He apologized, let it go. BRING UP THAT THING HE DID 5 MONTHS AGO. FINISH HIM." There were so many relatable gems to come from this meme.
14 Damn, Daniel!
It feels like a lifetime ago, but the first few months of this year were all about Daniel, the random cute high school boy who went super viral because his best friend filmed him walking around, smiling, and showing off his outfits. The 30-second Twitter video featuring Daniel was shared hundreds of thousands of times, and his friend Josh's notorious quote, "Damn, Daniel! Back at it again with the white vans," pretty much became the go-to way to tell your friends they looked good. After becoming 2016's first big meme, Daniel and Josh were invited to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and they even have a cameo in the new Weezer music video, "California Kids."
13 Ted Cruz, the Zodiac Killer
Remember Ted Cruz? He was that Republican presidential candidate who was actually somehow worse than Donald Trump. He also may or may not have been the Zodiac Killer. No one will ever really know how this rumor and its resulting meme went viral, but it was undeniably hilarious. It doesn't really matter that Cruz only slightly resembles the Zodiac Killer sketch or that Zodiac operated in the 1960s, before Cruz was even born. We all totally went along with this meme, because Ted Cruz is a creep. People really got creative with it, putting Cruz next to pictures of the infamous serial killer and rearranging "Ted Cruz 2016" to spell out "2 True Zodiac."
12 Kobe Bryant's legacy
In a year full of goodbyes, one of the most impactful had to be the retirement of Kobe Bryant, putting an official end to his 18-year career with the NBA. It also put a tragic end to his "Pass? Just get the rebound" meme, which both fans and haters of the basketball legend alike shared throughout his career. Kobe was one of the league's top scorers and even got a whopping 60 points in his last game.... but he also almost always took more shots than all of his teammates combined. There's a reason you say "KOBE!" when you're about to shoot some trash into your garbage can—if you wanted the ball on Kobe's team, your best chance was to just try to get his rebounds.
11 The Michael Phelps face
One of the best moments of this year's Olympics was when swimming legend Michael Phelps completely mean-mugged his South African rival Chad le Clos moments before the two faced off in the men's 200 butterfly semifinal in Rio de Janeiro. Phelps looked absolutely terrifying as le Clos danced around right next to him in the ready room, and his expression became the symbol of pain and annoyance in a year filled with both. We all made that face about a million times throughout 2016, whether it was when we had to change our internet passwords to something way too complicated or when we had to listen to old people complain about millenials yet again (even though they could afford houses on a McDonald's salary at our age). Thanks for just perfectly capturing our feelings about this year with one look, Michael!
10 Hold the door!
Okay, if this meme is still a spoiler for you, you need to get out from behind that rock and catch up on Game of Thrones ASAP. Sorry, not sorry. One of 2016's most tragic moments was when Hodor sacrificed himself to save Bran Stark from the army of wights in the hit HBO fantasy show. Bran's consciousness was inside of a past version of Hodor, whose name was once Wylis. Wylis thus heard Meera's repeated orders of "hold the door!" through Bran, and began to yell those words to himself over and over until they slurred together and became both the only word he can say and his name: Hodor. It was one of Thrones' most dramatic and heartbreaking twists, so naturally someone turned it into a hilarious meme. If you didn't watch the episode the night it aired, you probably had it ruined by the number of people who screamed "Hodor!" at you as your elevator doors were closing or taped a picture of the beloved character next to a "Hold Door" button.
9 Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby was one of television's most beloved father figures... until 2016 came along and just completely shattered the sweater-wearing, pudding pop-eating image we had of the Cosby Show star. On the second to last day of 2015, three Class II Felony charges of aggravated indecent assault were filed against Cosby based on allegations concerning incidents in January 2004, and then throughout this year, Cosby has been accused by over 60 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct. Instead of being completely disgusted by the countless accusations, the internet decided to make a meme out of Cosby, because that's the sense of humor people seemed to have this year.
8 Dazed and confused Mr. Krabs
SpongeBob SquarePants provided us with a number of viral memes in 2016, but the confused Mr. Krabs meme was the most popular to come from the 17-year-old cartoon. We've all had that "OMG, what do I do?!" moment at some point over the past few months—when the cashier says next but your mom just left to grab one more item off the grocery list, when you're watching a movie with your parents and a sex scene comes on, when you're watching the election and Trump wins yet another state... we were all Mr. Krabs this year. 2017 is looking to be a similarly bizarre year, so we likely haven't seen the last of this instant classic meme.
7 Suave pervert Bill Clinton
For whatever reason, people really seemed to get a kick out of old pervs this year. Everyone laughed about Bill Cosby's rape allegations, Donald Trump's "grab her by the p*ssy" quote became one of 2016's most popular phrases, and countless memes making fun of Bill Clinton's love for interns and sexual exploits with women who are not named Hilary, began to surface. Meme Bill loved to promise that his wife wouldn't suck as President, because let's be real.... if she sucked, he never would have had to mess around with Monica Lewinsky. Missing out on the hilarious First Lady (er... Gentleman?) Bill memes that could have been has to be one of our biggest disappointments with Hilary losing the election.
6 Dank meme-lover Bernie Sanders
A lot of dank memes emerged over the past eleven months, but the best ones always seemed to star Bernie Sanders. Maybe it was because he actually cared about the issues that millenials (who make like, 99 percent of viral memes) care most about, or because he's the hip grandpa we all secretly wish we had, but the internet was obsessed with pretending Bernie Sanders loved himself some dank memes—just look up how many "Bernie Sanders Dank Memes" groups there are on Facebook! Unfortunately, with the next election being four whole years from now and Bernie already being 75 years old, we probably can't look forward to more Bernie memes popping up in the future, so we have to just save the ones that came out this year and treasure them. We miss you already, Bernie.
5 Donald Trump
It's easy to understand why Donald Trump was the focal point of so many memes this year... he's essentially a walking, talking meme himself because everything he says is controversial and unbelievable. Choosing the best Trump meme is a difficult task—there's the one of Trump next to an ear of corn that spots his same hairdo, the one of Trump next to a caterpillar who looks just like his hairdo, the one of Alf claiming that Trump stole his hairdo... but this has to be the best non-hair related meme. Pretty soon we will be replacing our nation's first black president with our first orange president. Perhaps, the hit Netflix show predicted this dark future?
4 Where are Trump's Horcruxes at, though?!
This meme was pretty much everything. The more we all watched the presidential candidates, the more we thought, "there's no way these people are real." Only a mind like J.K. Rowling's could have come up with characters this ridiculous, right?! Ted Cruz reminded us a lot of Severus Snape—well-intentioned, but a total creep and borderline evil. Bernie Sanders was our real-life Albus Dumbledore because he cared about the little people and proved throughout his whole life that he'd fight for us. Hilary Clinton was toad-like, somewhat unlikable and by-the-book public official Dolores Umbridge, and of course, Donald Trump was the closest thing America has ever seen to power-hungry Lord Voldemort (petition to start calling our President-elect "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, anyone?). If only there was a way to send this book back to the publishers for a rewrite...
3 Ken Bone, man of the people
Ken Bone was a man of the people, and showed up in his sweater and glasses exactly when the country needed him most. A seemingly normal man who just wanted to ask a simple question at the second presidential debate, the internet declared Ken the debate's true winner and turned him into a viral meme sensation. And then, in typical 2016 fashion, he turned out to be a complete and total creep. In a Reddit AMA held after the debate, Ken used the username StanGibson18, and when the Daily Beast looked up the account's history on the website, they found a variety of nasty comments. "Maybe she should have been more careful with her pics, but the bad guys are still the ones who sought them out and looked at them By which I mean guys like me. I saw her butt hole. I liked it," Bone wrote on one of Jennifer Lawrence's leaked nudes. He also made a remark about how the shooting death of Trayvon Martin was "legally justified." You couldn't just let us have one hero, could you, 2016?!
2 Never leave us, Joe Biden
Nobody paid Joe Biden much attention during his eight-year run as our nation's Vice President... until we realized he was going to leave us. Joe has always seemed like a cool and likable guy, but out of nowhere, the internet decided via memes that he wants his BFF Barack to adopt him and that he has a high school bully mentality towards Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Meme Joe refuses to leave any ice cream in the White House freezer for his and Barack Obama's upcoming replacements, and he'd just love to give Trump a knuckle sandwich. We don't know if real-life Joe feels the same way, but from the popularity of the memes, it seems the whole world really, really hopes he does.
1 Harambe, the King of 2016
You can't have a list of 2016 memes that doesn't put Harambe as the No. 1 meme of the year. Harambe memes were so popular that they led to a dead gorilla receiving thousands of votes in one of the most important presidential elections in history. Harambe was killed after he just tried to protect a child who fell into his zoo enclosure, and millennials decided that essentially made him the second coming of Christ, and that he died for our memes and would someday be reborn. People inexplicably pulled their d*cks out in honor of the fallen gorilla, Photoshopped his face onto a variety of movie posters,and made every meme that mentioned his name go viral. Harambe was the one light that guided us through one of the darkest years of our generation.