×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

To All the Pop-Culture Memes We’ve Loved in 2018

Critical praise and awards are great, but in the Year of Gaga, it’s memes that are often the ultimate indicator that a song, film, or TV show has truly entered the pantheon of pop culture. Whether it’s from “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” or “A Star Is Born,” these moments from 2018 captured our attention, entered our own phrasebooks, and proved that Twitter can relate anything to “Shrek.” Here’s to 2019 and saying “thank u, next” for years to come.

Our list of the best pop culture memes of 2018:

Black Panther

Tech whiz Shuri (Letitia Wright) already proved her Vine IQ with her “What are those” quip in the film, but Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the Marvel blockbuster’s resident villain/Instagram model spawned his own memes. As T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) falls during their face-off, Killmonger demands, “Is this your king?” Leave it to Twitter to turn this defiant challenge into a Lush employee’s battle cry.

A Star Is Born

When Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine asks to catch another glimpse of Gaga’s Ally in “A Star Is Born,” she turns around and makes a face that’s part Mona Lisa smile, part I-just-stole-napkins-from-Starbucks, with a dash of je ne sais quoi. It’s the indescribable yet universal quality of Ally’s smile that made this moment so ripe for meme making.

“thank u, next” – Ariana Grande

Grande’s use of social media cemented her status as the millennial’s queen this year, so when the singer shared her post-breakup self-love anthem, “thank u next,” the internet quickly galvanized to create their interpretations of the song. Users managed to turn the lyrics, “One taught me love. One taught me patience. One taught me pain,” originally about Grande’s ex-boyfriends, to apply to everything from the “Shrek” films to Cheetos.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” Season 3

In the episode, which aired January, Morgan McMichaels exhibits shock as fellow contestant Aja prepares to execute a death drop during a performance. Her expression, paired with Milk’s quote, “Is she gonna jump from there?” has now become a go-to reaction image to any literal or metaphorical leap.

The “In My Feelings”/Shiggy Challenge

Scores of people followed Instagram star Shiggy’s footsteps (literally) to do the “In My Feelings” Challenge, sometimes throwing safe driving practices to the wayside. But with “Do it for the gram” the unofficial motto of 2018, getting out of a moving car to dance in traffic seems to be par for the course. Celebrities like Odell Beckham, Jr and Will Smith following suit helped catapult this challenge to virality, with Shiggy and his moves even featured in the official music video. We approve of how wholesome and lighthearted this trend was, but we do recommend you stay in the car for your next Instagram challenge.

“Queer Eye”

Since its February debut, “Queer Eye” has been a treasure trove for memes and Twitter jokes. So instead of picking one, we’ve declared a tie between two already-iconic quotes from the Netflix series (the runner-up being “gay fear”).

First, Twitter had no trouble coming up with future “Queer Eye” spinoffs that twist the format of five gay men doling out life and style advice, and even Dictionary.com hopped on the train.

Another surprised reaction image comes from Jonathan Van Ness, the grooming expert and sweetheart of the show. Whereas the “Drag Race” meme conveys pure disbelief, JVN’s face captures that feeling of hearing unexpectedly good news, like “Killing Eve” being added to Hulu in December.

“Selfie Kid” from Super Bowl LII 

Listen, we don’t know what “sports” are, but it looked like this boy at the Super Bowl didn’t recognize Justin Timberlake right in front of him, which is technically worse. Although Ryan McKenna, 13, later said he was just pulling his camera out to get a selfie, social media still had a ball guessing what more pressing matters were on the teen’s mind.

The Academy Awards

At the 2018 Oscars, Meryl Streep proved that the only person who can upstage her is herself. A picture of her yelling in support went viral, topping the 2015 meme of when the acclaimed actress hollered for Debbie Reynolds during the SAG Awards. Streep also displayed fairy godmother chic this year, with many noting she resembled a character from “Shrek 2.”

A bonus Oscar shout-out goes to Jennifer Garner, who looked like she just realized she left her oven on.

Zendaya Is Meechee

Gabriel Gundacker already notched Vine fame for his offbeat humor, but his best work yet is just three words: “Zendaya is Meechee.” The video, posted in September, features Gundacker in front of posters for the animated film, “Smallfoot,” singing about Zendaya’s role in the flick with a passion that would match Barbra Streisand’s. We can’t quite articulate what makes the video hit the sweet spot, but one thing we do know? Zendaya is Meechee.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before”

Lara Jean Covey may have written sweet letters to past loves, but Internet wordsmiths like Rachel Syme took the rom-com’s title as an opportunity to call out problematic boys, and we’re here for it.

Are there any we left out? Let us know!

More Film

  • Bob Berney

    Bob Berney to Leave Amazon Studios' Head of Marketing and Distribution Position

    Bob Berney, Amazon Studios’ head of marketing and distribution, is stepping down, Variety has confirmed. Berney was hired by Amazon in 2015 and recently reached the end of his four-year contract. His last day will be Friday. During his time at amazon, the film veteran oversaw a number of successful films including “Manchester by the [...]

  • NEW YORK, NY – JUNE, 24:

    LGBTQ Stars Honored at Variety’s Power of Pride Celebration

    New York City felt the full power of pride on Monday, as Variety celebrated its inaugural issue devoted to the annual recognition of LGBTQ people worldwide. At an intimate gathering at lower east side Manhattan hotel The Orchid, rooftop bar Mr. Purple hosted Variety’s cover stars and luminaries for cocktails and the unveiling of the [...]

  • Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Top Hollywood producer Joel Silver has exited his production company Silver Pictures, Variety has confirmed. “Joel Silver recently indicated that he intends to leave Silver Pictures and go out on his own,” Hal Sadoff, a former ICM Partners agent who joined Silver Pictures several years ago as CEO, said in a statement. “We are working [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

  • Ewen Bremner as Alan McGee in

    Danny Boyle-Produced ‘Creation Stories’ Adds Jason Isaacs, Steven Berkoff

    Jason Isaacs, Steven Berkoff and a host of other new names have signed on for “Creation Stories,” the film being exec-produced by Danny Boyle about Creation Records co-founder Alan McGee. The producers also unveiled the first shots of Ewen Bremner (“Trainspotting”) as the music mogul. Production is underway on the Irvine Welsh-penned project, with “Lock, [...]

  • 'Annabelle Comes Home' Review: This Grab

    Film Review: 'Annabelle Comes Home'

    In a country that should probably think about renaming itself the American Entertainment State, fan culture now produces an obsessive level of pop scholasticism, one that can parse the rules and details of movies and TV shows as if they were fine points of law. In a review of a horror movie, I once called [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content