The 20 Funniest Memes of 2018

funny memes 2018
Please don't actually eat laundry pods. It really isn't a good idea. sdominick / iStock / Getty

2017 was a banner year for memes, with classics like distracted boyfriend, salt bae, and cash me outside entering the memetic lexicon.

That might seem like a tough act to follow, but 2018 surged ahead early on as older memes, like Ugandan Knuckles and steamed hams, were suddenly thrust back into the public consciousness, and social media latched onto new inside jokes, like the concept of personal FBI agents.

Here's our list of the top 20 funniest memes of 2018, including a brief analysis of each and links to the originals for additional context and laughs. 

tide pod challenge meme
Screenshot: The Verge

Where did it come from?
While rumors of people eating Tide Pods are nearly as old as the actual product, and The Onion even wrote an article about it in 2015, the Tide Pod Challenge didn't arrive until 2018. It started as a joke on YouTube, but people took it a little too serious.

What makes it funny?
Laundry detergent pods look a lot like candy, and the idea of someone trying to eat them is funny to a lot of people. Unfortunately, the joke went too far, and people actually got sick from eating them.

This led to Rob Gronkowski starring in a public service announcement (PSA) about not eating laundry pods, which was also turned into a meme.

kylo ren's pants ben swolo meme
Screenshot: Imgur

Where did it come from?
The genesis of this meme came with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi at the end of 2017. Near the beginning of 2018, people started noticing how weird Kylo Ren looked with his hiked up pants, and Ben Swolo became a meme.

What makes it funny?
​Shirtless Kylo Ren looks ridiculous in his high-waisted pants. The image is funny on its own, but the meme combines it with other funny images and places Ren into amusing contexts.

ugandan knuckles meme
Screenshot: memeburn.com

Where did it come from?
Ugandan Knuckles is a mashup that can be traced back to a few different sources. The design of the character comes from a deformed version of the Sonic character Knuckles drawn by a YouTube creator named Gregzilla

The character was later turned into a 3D model for use in the game VR Chat. Players using the model would commonly repeat lines inspired by a the Ugandan movie Who Killed Captain Alex.

What makes it funny?
The meme initially gained traction due to the absurdity of dozens of tiny Ugandan Knuckles avatars running around VR Chat asking other players if they know the way.

The memes ultimate form, perhaps, came when the official Sonic Twitter account tweeted a Ugandan Knuckles-themed version of the expanding brain meme.

left exit 12 off ramps meme
Screenshot: Imgur

Where did it come from?
The roots of this meme stretch all the way back to 2013, when a video of a car dangerously skidding onto an off ramp was uploaded to YouTube.

A screenshot from this video was combined with an off ramp sign in very late 2017, and the meme was born. Due to the text on the sign, it is also known as Left Exit 12.

What makes it funny?
This is an example of an exploitable template meme. The text on the off ramp sign is typically replaced, and text or a picture is overlaid on top of the car.

The humor in the meme comes from the suggestion that the car is suddenly, and dangerously, veering toward an unwise destination.

For instance, one version has the freeway represent using Tide Pods to clean laundry, while the exit represents eating Tide Pods, in reference to the Tide Pod Challenge meme.

lad is an absolute unit meme
Screenshot: melmagazine.com

Where did it come from?
This meme is based on a tweet from late 2017 where an image of an overweight man in a suit was captioned with the text "In awe of the size of this lad. Absolute unit." In early 2018, people started using variations on that quote to caption images of other large objects and people.

What makes it funny?
​The caption, if taken literally, suggests that the subject is an impressive physical specimen. In the original instance of the meme, the man in the image was an overweight British hotel owner.

Subsequent examples of the meme have included other people, and objects, that are not well described by the caption.

my fbi agent meme
Screenshot: onehallyhu.com

Where did it come from?
This meme draws from a paranoia about the possibility of the government spying on people through their webcams. The idea of the government spying through webcams has been around for a while, but the idea of each individual citizen being watched, at all times, by their own FBI agent took off in early 2018.

What makes it funny?
​The idea of someone spying on you through your webcam is disturbing, but people have turned that on its head by making a joke out of it. People will tell fictional stories about how their personal FBI agent accidentally revealed that they were spying, saved their life, or cheered them up when they were depressed. 

gym kardashian meme
Screenshot: wmagazine.com

Where did it come from?
Someone edited a photo of Kim Kardashian to make her look extremely muscular, and other people took that image and captioned it with humorous text. This led to similar photo edits of other members of Kardashian's family.

What makes it funny?
​The edited images are funny on their own, but the text that people add make them even funnier. The pun on Kardashian's name is also a source of humor for some people.

change my mind meme
Screenshot: knowyourmeme.com

Where did it come from?
The origin of this meme is a series of YouTube videos created by Ben Crowder. Someone took a screenshot from one of his videos, where he set up a table at a college campus and asked people to change his mind, and removed the text from his sign. This created an exploitable image template, which people alter with humorous text.

What makes it funny?
​Most examples of this meme involve asking to change Crowder's mind about ridiculous things. Some also replace Crowder, or just his face, with someone else.

ready player one poster meme
Screenshot: The Daily Dot

Where did it come from?
This meme is based on posters for the movie Ready Player One. When the first poster came out, people noticed that one of the character's legs was improbably long, so they made humorous edits. Other posters for the movie were also subjected to similarly funny treatment.

What makes it funny?
​This meme relies on visual gags. For instance, the three versions shown here include the original poster, a version where his leg is fixed but one of his arms is elongated, and one where he has an extremely long torso.

google selfie app meme
Screenshot: Mashable

Where did it come from?
This meme is based on the Google Arts and Culture app that was released in 2016. In late 2017, Google added a feature that allows the user to take a selfie and find artwork that looks like them.

What makes it funny?
​A lot of the results returned by the app are hilarious. Some of them are extremely poor matches, and others return art of babies, body parts, or just non-realistic art styles. The idea that people look like these works of art, whether or not they really do, is funny.

friends 2018 plots meme
Screenshot: brit.co

Where did it come from?
This meme started when the official Netflix Twitter account tweeted a list of potential plotlines for a 2018 reunion of Friends. This was probably inspired by a YouTube video that mashed together footage from various sources to create a trailer for a fake Friends reunion movie.

What makes it funny?
​The original Netflix tweets, and responses from various other sources, take the characters from Friends, which ended in 2004, and guess at what they might be doing in the present day.

This is humorous for fans of the show who are familiar with the personalities of the characters, because it's funny to imagine them interacting with current technologies and events that weren't around when the show was on the air.

The meme also plays on the very real desire that fans have for some type of reunion movie, special, or series.

justin timberlake man of the woods meme
Screenshot: popbuzz.com

Where did it come from?
This meme came from people riffing on Justin Timberlake's 2018 album Man of the Woods

What makes it funny?
​The joke typically relates to the sharp departure of the album from Timberlake's previous style. Many of these memes also poke fun at Timberlake's so-called tranformation into a "man of the woods" after having gone camping one time or listening to Bon Iver.

super bowl selfie kid meme
Screenshot: Time

Where did it come from?
This meme came from a moment during the Super Bowl LII halftime show. During his performance, Justin Timberlake entered the crowd and stood next to a kid. The kid took a selfie and then immediately turned his attention to his phone, as if he had totally lost interest in the halftime show.

What makes it funny?
​Most instances of this meme pair a picture of the kid alongside a doctored screenshot that shows an imaginary view of his phone.

The humor comes from the idea that, during a Justin Timberlake performance, the kid is searching the internet to find out who Justin Timberlake is, asking his dad to come pick him up, or checking his Bitcoin portfolio.

somebody toucha my spaghet meme
Screenshot: me.me

Where did it come from?
This meme is based on an animated cartoon from 1939 called The Three Bears. The cartoon is based on Goldilocks, and it features a bear who complains, in a thick approximation of an Italian accent, that someone had touched his spaghetti.

A clip from the cartoon was tweeted out toward the end of 2017, and people started remixing it and riffing on the "somebody toucha my spaghet" line in early 2018.

What makes it funny?
​Like a lot of memes based around a catchphrase, the humor in this meme revolves primarily around people finding the phrase "somebody toucha my spaghet" funny.

connect four meme
Screenshot: Imgur

Where did it come from?
Connect Four is a game that has been in production since the 1970s, and the box art has been a semi-popular target of online parody for years.

The sudden surge of Connect Four parodies came after a collage of older parodies was posted to Reddit in early 2018.

What makes it funny?
Most examples of this meme rely on visual gags and puns for humor. The Connect Four board is typically modified to be ridiculous in some way, such as including a single slot, or no slots at all. In other cases, the board is removed altogether and the images of the children are placed into a different situation altogether.

britney spears is cleopatra meme
Screenshot: dailydot.com

Where did it come from?
This meme started in early 2018 when a Twitter user posted a series of 3D renders designed to look like Britney Spears along with text suggesting that the 3D model is a depiction of what Cleopatra looked like.

What makes it funny?
​The suggestion that Cleopatra looked like Britney Spears is ridiculous, but some people appear to have taken the original tweet seriously. That made the original tweet funny to some people, and the reaction funny to others.

In addition to the original instance of the meme, others went on to tweet the exact same text alongside other 3D models, including a character from Club Penguin, that clearly don't depict Cleopatra.

evil savage patrick meme
Screenshot: Vice

Where did it come from?
This meme features a still image of Patrick Star from the cartoon Spongebob. The image itself dates all the way back to 1999, but users on Twitter turned it into a meme by captioning it with humorous text in February 2018.

What makes it funny?
Spongebob memes are both plentiful and popular, with several new ones surfacing each year. This one started out as a reaction image, and people typically use it with the suggestion that it represents them while doing something nefarious.

infinity wars crossover meme
Screenshot: nymag.com

Where did it come from?
Avengers: Infinity War has been associated with the tagline "the most ambitious crossover event in history" due to the sheer number of Marvel characters set to appear in the movie. While it is technically a crossover, and certainly ambitious, fans took that tagline and started sticking it on a wide variety of other crossovers.

What makes it funny?
​The idea that the other crossovers, both real and fictitious, are more ambitious than Avengers: Infinity War is amusing.

Some versions don't even feature real crossovers, like one that includes an old image of Donald Trump with the McDonald's character Grimace, and another that has an old photo of Prince Charles and Nelson Mandella with the Spice Girls.

steamed hams meme
Screenshot: ranker.com

Where did it come from?
This meme is based on an episode of the Simpsons that first aired in 1996. The episode features a humorous segment where Principal Skinner attempts to impress his boss while the situation quickly deteriorates into chaos around him.

While this episode has been a fan favorite for years, it ascended to meme status when one of the original writers posted a draft script to Twitter in early 2018.

Renewed interest in the episode resulted in a sudden outpouring of YouTube mashup videos and other memes based around aspects of the episode, such as Principal Skinner referring to hamburgers as steamed hams.

What makes it funny?
The humor in this meme relies primarily on the fact that the source material is funny, and a lot of people remember the episode fondly. Even if a Simpsons fan isn't familiar with the meme, they are likely to recognize snippets like steamed hams, aurora borealis, and unforgettable luncheon.

you so precious meme
Screenshot: YouTube

Where did it come from?
This meme combines the song Mine with snapchat filters and humorous videos. It started with a single video that was submitted to Reddit in early 2018, but it exploded in popularity when other people started copying the basic format for their own versions of the video.

What makes it funny?
The combination of the song with videos that are typically slowed down, and sped up, along with the cadence of the track, and the addition of a snapchat lens that causes emoticons like hearts to explode all over the place, is a winning recipe.

Some of the humor also comes from the accompanying videos, which often feature things like cute dogs or people exhibiting strange behavior.​

Warning: The lyrics of the song that this meme is based on contain explicit language.