Top 50 Internet Memes of 2012

Broadly speaking, a meme (pronounced: “meem”) is an idea or thought (an image, quote, symbol, joke, etc.) that spreads from person to person in school, work, the media or society at large – becoming popular and easily recognizable.

In the pre-internet days, commercials with popular jingles and slogans (such as the classic “Always Coca Cola” television spot), as well as a phrases from popular TV shows and films (such as Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous “I’ll be Back” in Terminator) can be considered memes. However, these memes were created and popularized by advertising agencies and film studios – providing a unidirectional way of communication where media companies talked and the audience listened.

In our social media era, however, memes are mostly user-generated and shared through meme sites such as Reddit, 9GAG and quickmeme, as well as through Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Unlike the “Always Coca Cola” days, online memes give the user power and control. He or she takes elements from popular (or unpopular) movies, TV shows and politicians to mix them into creative and hilarious pictures with quotes, jokes or statements that can go “viral” -- fundamentally transforming communication between media companies and their audiences into a bidirectional process.

Following, the Top 50 Most Popular Online Memes (warning; some contain graphic language):     

50. Bad Luck Brian:

49. Success Kid:

48. Confession Bear:

47. Scumbag Steve:

46. Thug Life:

45. First World Problems:

44. Philosoraptor:

43. Cat Meme:

42. Dog Meme:

41. Overly Attached Girlfriend:

40. Socially Awkward Penguin:

39. “Call Me Maybe” Meme:

38. Ridiculosly Photogenic Guy:

37. Lawyer Dog:

36. Captain Kitteh:

35. Insanity Pup:

34. ‘90s Problems:

33. Pawn Star:

32. Scumbag Brain:

31. Forever Alone:

30. Challenge Accepted:

29. F*ck Yeah/Like a Boss:

28. Troll:

27. B*tch Please:

26. “Me Gusta”:

25. Matrix Morpheus:

24. The Most Interesting Man in the World:

23. Unhelpful High Scool Teacher:

22. College Liberal:

21. College Conservative:

20. Super Cool Ski Instructor:

19. Paranoid Parrot:

18. Condescending Wonka:

17. Annoying Facebook Girl:

16. Annoyed Picard:

15. Lazy College Senior:

14. Futurama Fry:

13. Successful Black Man:

12. Relatable Romney:

11. Foul Bachelor Frog:

10. Socially Awesome Awkward Penguin:

9. High Expectations Asian Father:

8. Hipster Barista:

7. Good Guy Greg:

6. Sudden Clarity Clarence:

5. Misunderstood Spider:

4. Bad Joke Eel:

3. Scumbag Teacher:

2. Boromir:

1. Drunk Baby:

Bonus: Grumpy Cat: