Tumblr’s annual list of the most reblogged memes is out, and it turns out that 2015’s Tumblr teens were really, really into Pepe, a weird-looking drawing of a frog that’s been kicking around the infamous image-board site 4chan since at least 2008.
Pepe started out in 2005 as a web-comics character in Matt Furie’s strip Boy’s Club, but a panel where the frog looks especially satisfied and says “Feels good man” turned out to be a perfect reaction image for any revolting thread on 4chan’s anything-goes forum, /b/.
New illustrations of Pepe followed, and internet artists got into a sort of arms race to see who could draw him into the most surreal and most disgusting situations. These original works are known as “rare Pepes,” because their comedy value hasn’t yet been depleted through endless repetition, and people on Tumblr were obsessed with producing and collecting them this year.
Tumblrs like Daily Rare Pepes and Mega Pepe Mart sprung up to provide the masses with the dank new Pepes they craved, helping to put the frog at the top of this year’s Tumblr meme ranking, seven years after he got big on 4chan. Fitzgerald famously wrote that there are no second acts in American lives. Clearly, 1920s meme technology just wasn’t capable of producing any memes as good and dank as Pepe the Frog.
Other notable newcomers to the list:
At No. 2, “the signs as.” It’s a game where you assign astrological signs to any group of things: your friends, Pokémon, McDonald’s Dollar Menu items. Anything, really.
At No. 4, breadsticks — a way of announcing that you’re leaving a conversation. As in, “*shoving breadsticks into my purse* sorry i have to go right now immediately.”
At No. 5, the Dress, a photo of a blue-and-black dress that spawned the most popular post in BuzzFeed’s history after people mistakenly saw it as gold and white.
The 2015 list also includes some memes that sadly didn’t survive until the end of the year: RIP Left Shark, Texts From Last Night, and "squad goals." We hardly knew ye. And yet, in some ways, we knew you far too well and for far too long.
Further emphasizing the ever-shortening half-life of the contemporary internet meme, 2015’s list only contained a handful of carryovers from 2014. They included Throwback Thursday, teens joking about the contents of the PSAT test, and the Halloween meme Skeleton War. Also making a repeat appearance was that ubiquitous Shiba inu Doge, which was long ago hailed by people with taste as the only “actually good internet meme.” Doge fell six spots, from No. 8 to No. 14. Such reliable. Very consistency.