From Distracted Boyfriend to Grumpy Cat, here are the top 15 memes of the decade – CNET

From Distracted Boyfriend to Grumpy Cat, here are the top 15 memes of the decade – CNET

Memes galore. 

James Martin/CNET

This story is part of The 2010s: A Decade in Review, a series on the memes, people, products, movies and so much more that have influenced the 2010s.

If there’s one cultural phenomenon that’s defined the last decade, there’s a strong argument to be made for memes. They’ve undoubtedly shaped online humor and interactions, spurring countless pages and groups on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Reddit. 


Memes have become somewhat of a unifying force, bringing people from all walks of life together to show how much we have in common. We relate to friends and reminisce about shared experiences by tagging them in various posts. Memes have also become a way to communicate and react to things on social media, from political news to pop culture events to internet phenomena.  

The popularity of memes has skyrocketed in recent years with the rise of social media. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have made it easier to share and find content, bringing much joy to our lives in the process.  

The internet has blessed us with countless quality memes in the last decade, so single-handedly choosing the top 15 is too big a responsibility for any one soul to bear. I employed the help of CNET’s reporters and editors in selecting the most memorable and influential content that’s graced the internet. 


Well, hello there.

Know Your Meme

1. Distracted Boyfriend

This meme won the top spot among our staff by a landslide. What began as a stock image depicting a guy checking out another girl (to the horror of his girlfriend) became one of the most versatile (and, in some places, controversial) memes on the internet. People quickly began captioning the image with various scenarios conveying jealousy or altering the people pictured (a distracted girlfriend meme appeared a short time later). Distracted Boyfriend is the perfect representation of internal conflict, hilariously illustrated by a scenario in which a relationship is threatened by cheating and jealousy. We really do find humor in everything, don’t we.


I am my own worst enemy.

Know Your Meme

2. Evil Kermit

Evil Kermit, illustrated with one Kermit talking to another in a black cape, represents the evil that lives within us all. It’s that voice that tells us to eat that second (or third) cookie, or to put off studying. It depicts our internal struggle to try to be good but ultimately be tempted by our dark inner voice. 

Grumpy Cat dislikes Affleck

Some Batman fans are feeling a little grumpy.


3. Grumpy Cat

Rest in peace, our old friend. Grumpy Cat, who rose to fame in 2012 after an image of her was uploaded to Reddit, is essentially a 2010s meme OG. Her unimpressed expression — the result of dwarfism and an underbite — is a total mood. This reaffirmed that cats and the internet are a perfect match

4. Side Eyeing Chloe

It’s hard to impress Chloe. Not even a trip to Disneyland could phase her. Chloe’s distrubed reaction in this YouTube video — in which she and her sister are told about a surprise trip to Disneyland — spurred the viral meme that’s become the go-to reaction for any questionable Facebook status or tweet.



Know Your Meme

5. Success Kid

Look at that pure joy and enthusiasm. This kid quickly became the meme poster child for successes ranging from finding money in your pocket to having both Starburst in a 2-pack be pink. Depending on whether you see the glass half full or half empty, the image (which is also known by the name I Hate Sandcastles) can also be used to express frustration, making this an all-around solid meme.

6. Blinking White Guy

Perplexed. Shocked. Incredulous. These are all ways Drew Scanlon, formerly a video producer at Giant Bomb, probably felt when he made the face that immortalized him as Blinking White Guy. This meme is applicable whenever someone says something you can’t believe just came out of their mouth, aka every day on Twitter.


Shiba Inu says, “Seriously?”

Know Your Meme

7. Doge

Cute dogs and hilarious expressions are a recipe for meme success. This image of a Shiba Inu with a memorable camera pose became a template for random internal monologues relayed in broken English. You know a meme’s a big deal when it inspires its own cryptocurrency

8. Is this a pigeon?

Is this a pigeon?

Is this…?

Know Your Meme

Life can be very confusing sometimes, as this meme so perfectly illustrates. Taken from a scene in the Japanese anime TV series The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, in which a character mistakes a butterfly for a pigeon, this image has come to represent all the times people confuse one object or scenario for another. Is spending countless hours on Twitter synonymous to being productive? Are you going to die from a slight pain in your body? No, but you should probably get your vision (or perspective on life) checked. 


I really don’t know.

Know Your Meme

9) Futurama Fry/Not Sure If


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