Time moves faster on social media.
And we’re not just saying that because, when you think you’ve only spent 10 minutes scrolling TikTok, it’s actually been three hours. In fact, information spreads faster on social media than on any other medium—which means memes from two months ago are basically ancient history.
IGNITE thinks that’s a shame—because some of those memes from two months (or more) ago were actually pretty good!
So, as we prepare to dive into a brand-new year, here are the memes that defined each month of 2021:
Meme of the month: Bernie Sanders wearing mittens
“This could’ve been an email” pic.twitter.com/kn68z6eDhY
— Ashley K. (@AshleyKSmalls) January 20, 2021
Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator and candidate in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, arrived at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration in a grey coat and mittens a school teacher gave him. And, he immediately stood out among the jewel-tone-clad crowd. So, the internet did what it does best: made memes out of it.
Fun fact: this is the second time Bernie’s grey coat has been immortalized through internet virality—it also appears in his “I am once again asking” campaign ad.
Meme of the month: The Weeknd’s Super Bowl performance
me immediately after someone gives me specific directions pic.twitter.com/XtAsYjHw91
— Alyssa Limperis (@alyssalimp) February 8, 2021
We’ve come to expect over-the-top performances from this Toronto-born musician. And, when he headlined the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show, he delivered just that. We got a set featuring his greatest hits, dancers covered in white face bandages, a “robot demon choir” and a meme of him looking lost in a yellow-lit house of mirrors to boot.
February honourable mention: cat filter lawyer
A lawyer in a Zoom hearing somehow turned on a filter that made him look like a cat; and he didn’t know how to turn it off.
You couldn’t write better meme fodder.
Meme of the month: Kathryn Hahn winking
“Omg I’m so sorry, I didn’t see this until now!” pic.twitter.com/PlyoFoTNQu
— Jason Ferrante (@FerranteJason) March 1, 2021
Although the now-famous image of Agatha from WandaVision winking first appeared in the series’ second trailer, which premiered Dec. 10, 2020, it didn’t explode in the meme-o-sphere until around March. But, boy, are we glad it did.
March honourable mention: Oprah interviewing Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Me having an exclusive interview with the letter “g” in lasagna: pic.twitter.com/Vo5QI1ck9P
— Tenille. (@tenilleclarke1) March 8, 2021
Turns out, a byproduct from a high-profile sit-down with one of television’s most legendary interviewers is…memes. Lots and lots of memes. Who would’ve guessed?
Meme of the month: you can be a different person after the pandemic
— Eric Morrow (@morroweric) April 12, 2021
A New York Times piece about emerging from COVID-19 lockdowns had a title seemingly made for memes.
I think I’m gonna be Rachel McAdams. Idk, seems like it would be fun. How ’bout you guys?
Meme of the month: Cruella’s origin story
— Rob (@dreadfulpoint) May 28, 2021
Meme of the month: Anakin and Padmé
— zach silberberg (@zachsilberberg) June 12, 2021
Every once in a while, a meme format with seemingly endless variations blesses the internet. This June, that format was four glorious frames from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Meme of the month: the beach that makes you old
I’m just here to talk about the beach that makes you old pic.twitter.com/phQ30gskiZ
— J (@TheOrionHunter) July 25, 2021
— Cameron Scheetz (@cameronscheetz) July 25, 2021
The premise of M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film is incredibly straightforward—and incredibly meme-able: there is a beach that makes you old.
Meme of the month: milk crate challenge
Them insurance companies watching y’all do the milk crate challenge like- pic.twitter.com/cOcVxLTSde
— Quick’s Descendant (@trez_Legit) August 21, 2021
Like with most viral internet phenomena these days, TikTok is largely responsible for spreading this one. But don’t go looking for videos of it on the platform anymore—because it banned all related content in late August.
Why? Well, in orthopedic surgeon Shawn Anthony’s words, “It’s perhaps even worse than falling from a ladder. It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury.”
Although this isn’t the first time a dangerous challenge has dominated our feeds (remember Tide pods?), it posed an even greater public health threat—since injuries resulting from the challenge put greater stress on hospitals already overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
So, in short: don’t try this at home.
Meme of the month: Mary Jane defending
She said LEAVE, GET OUT! pic.twitter.com/9Vkl34P5Sw
— Omniversal Majestrix (@SaturnImperial) September 3, 2021
Yet another meme format you can do just about anything with.
Oh, and the “she” in question in the meme above also said lots of other things (to IGNITE!)
September honourable mention: Ben Platt crying
Me before every zoom pic.twitter.com/LKsvsWcMng
— Michael Kennedy (@MichaelKenKen) September 26, 2021
Ben Platt, you’re a good actor. Truly! But, with love, this level of melodrama is better suited to the stage.
Meme of the month: red flags
my ex is crazy 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— the candle lady (@jackieaina) October 13, 2021
It’s simple, really: people took to their feeds to air out their biggest dating deal-breakers.
Although, The Brands™️ got ahold of this one quickly.
“I’ve never had a Pepsi in my life” 🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩
— Pepsi (@pepsi) October 13, 2021
Meme(s) of the month: Adele and Taylor Swift
when ur hosting the afters and want everyone to know ur ready to go to bed pic.twitter.com/2QMGCw81nN
— 𝘴𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘵𝘣𝘪𝘵𝘤𝘩 (@AguillardTrevor) November 11, 2021
Taylor Swift normalizing never moving on from anyone anything any situation any made up scenario any dream any argument any moment yeah I understand her completely actually
— savannah (@catluvr2008) November 12, 2021
We can’t decide which is luckier: two of music’s biggest names dropping albums only a week apart, or all the memes we got out of them.
(OK, also, Taylor Swift totally should’ve done something with the red flag meme. Because, like, it’s too perfect. Right?)
November honourable mention: yassification
— Yassify Bot (@YassifyBot) November 17, 2021
We won’t be explaining this one further—partially because it doesn’t need it; and partially because we don’t know how.
Second November honourable mention: two guys on a bus
— annie (@frequentpuker) November 18, 2021
- Guy on the left: tries to make it through college or university entirely on their own
- Guy on the right: takes advantage of IGNITE’s services to make every day as a student a little brighter 😉
(Also, side note: November was a huge month for memes, huh?)
Meme of the month: pull up in the Sri Lanka
am i a Beyoncé fan? all the single ladies get in formation! WHAT!? pic.twitter.com/QpDlLhF3T3
— 𝔹.𝕂 🤍 (@Rumiyoncee) December 1, 2021
During the segment, Rapaport asked Osefo if she’s a Nicki Minaj fan. Osefo replied, “What? Am I a Nicki fan?” as if to say, “Isn’t it obvious I’m a Nicki Minaj fan?” Osefo then attempted to prove she’s a barb by reciting Minaj’s verse in Kanye West’s song Monster, which begins:
“Pull up in the monster, automobile gangsta, with a bad b**** that came from Sri Lanka.”
However, what Osefo actually said was:
In early December, fans of other music artists began using the sound bite to demonstrate allegiance to their own fandoms—and find creative ways to flub up lyrics in the process.
December honourable mention: you want me to x? The thing that y?
you want me to drink water. the thing that killed jack in titanic
— the hype (@TheHyyyype) December 7, 2021
you want me to make a phone call. the thing that killed drew barrymore in scream.
— em ✨ (@uhhmmily) December 7, 2021
You know how, sometimes, you just want to whine? Like, life is hard—and you know how to solve your problems—but it feels better to complain?
We think this is the meme version of that.
Thanks for the laughs, 2021. We can’t wait to see what memes 2022 has in store.
Practice safe meme-ing with these cybersecurity tips every student should know.