It was the decade that brought us Vine, delivered Tik Tok, and gave rise to the Instagram influencer. In the three decades of the World Wide Web, the 2010s have offered us the most comedic content that will live on in our minds forever.
As the 2010s come to a close, here are the top viral moments of the decade we can all appreciate and will never forget.
Double Rainbow Guy (2010)
One of the first viral moments of the decade came from Paul “Bear” Vasquez, popularly known as the “Double Rainbow Guy.” Vasquez went viral in July 2010 for publishing a breakdown of the beauty of a double rainbow near Yosemite National Park.
In the three-and-a-half minute video, Vasquez records the rainbow while sobbing uncontrollably in the background, causing many to believe he was maybe, probably, almost definitely high on some kind of drug. Vasquez maintains however, he was high on the pure beauty of the moment.
Lol @ The Trololololol Guy (2010)
Soviet-Russian baritone singer Eduard Khil earned international fame 34 years after a 1976 recording of him singing went viral on the internet in 2010, quickly becoming a halmark meme of internet trolling.
Khil’s newfound fame even led the performer to take up “Mr. Trololo” as his stage name.
Can’t get enough of this video? Watch the 10-hour version here.
‘Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife’ (2010)
Antoine Dodson became an immediate internet celebrity following a candid 2010 interview telling a local news outlet of an attacker who attempted to rape his sister in a Huntsville, Alabama housing project.
“Well, obviously we have a rapist in Lincoln Park. He’s climbing in your windows, he’s snatching your people up, trying to rape them. So y’all need to hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband because they’re raping everybody out here.”
‘Friday’ By Rebecca Black (2011)
YouTuber Rebecca Black experienced an early break-out in the entertainment industry in 2011 when the then-13-year-old’s “Friday” music video went viral on the internet.
The video, which hit more than 30 million views shortly after going viral, garnered widespread media coverage around the world, but for all of the wrong reasons, provoking mockery from prominent stars and comedians, frustrating the young artist who wanted to be taken seriously.
Black’s video still catapulted the young singer to stardom. She is now worth an estimated $1.5 million, according to CelebrityNetWorth.
Honey Badger (2011)
In some peak National Geographic-level content, a New York-accented narrator identified online as “Randall,” but whose real name is Christopher Gordon, chronicles the life of a honey badger.
The video quickly racked up millions of views, leading to honey badger-themed calendars, mousepads, and t-shirts. Through just one video, Gordon turned a relatively unfamiliar creature into a true cultural figure.
Nyan Cat (2011)
Nine years later, a three-and-a-half minute video with the graphics of a Super Nintendo game depicting a cat with a strawberry pop-tart for a body soaring through space propelled by pooping rainbows to the tune of the Japanese song “Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!” has garnered more than 172 million views.
The video became an instant online meme, and one fan even created a ten-hour version of the video.
In 2012, another fan recreated the video to illustrate the Nyan Cat fitting cultures around the world.
Talking Twin Babies (2011)
Eighteen-month old fraternal twins Sam and Ren went viral at the start of the decade for a video illustrating the two communicating in a form other than English.
Vanderbilt University Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences Stephen Camarata told ABC News that the two infants were “on the cusp of language,” but that instead of words, they used different sounds and tones to communicate amongst themselves.
“They’re using the intonation patterns of sentences — imitating sentences in a crude way,” Camarata toldABC. “It’s one way that children learn how to talk.”
‘Gangnam Style’ By Psy (2012)
Clocking in with 3.4 billion views on YouTube, Korean pop star Psy’s “Gangnam Style” music video is the 7th most-watched video on the platform of all time.
The song and dance became an instant source of parodies on the internet, even celebrated by President Barack Obama in 2013 during a press conference with the South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
“As I mentioned to President Park, my daughters have taught me a pretty good Gangnam Style,” Obama said.
Grumpy Cat (2012)
Perhaps the most famous cat in the world, Grumpy Cat was beloved by us all, even as she scowls at us with her judging eyes so often joined by a cynical and condescending message.
The cat, named Tardar Sauce, rose to prominence on the internet in 2012 after her owner’s brother posted a picture of her on Reddit. She had feline dwarfism. Sadly, Tardar Sauce passed away earlier this year at the age of 7 from complications arising as a result of a urinary tract infection.
The Harlem Shake (2013)
A precursor to the Mannequin Challenge to come in 2016, the Harlem Shake was one of the first of its kind.
A viral video meme replicated by large groups of people, the rules were simple: a single bystander awkwardly dances to an excerpt of the song “Harlem Shake,” usually wearing something out of the ordinary such as a bag over his head, while the people nearby pay no attention to the one-man show. When the bass drops to the words, “do the Harlem Shake,” the lonely performer is no longer alone, and is instantly joined by often large crowds of people typically sporting costumes or other elements of self-expression flailing and dancing to the music.
The video meme was reproduced by thousands throughout the year, with the largest including 3,444 people held at an arena in Troy, New York put on by Brooklyn musicians Matt and Kim, who themselves went viral in 2009 for stripping naked in Times Square for a music video.
People got creative in their recreation of the meme. The University of Georgia Men’s Swim and Dive team even performed the Harlem Shake underwater.
‘The Fox (What Does The Fox Say)’ by Ylvis (2013)
It was the top video on YouTube in 2013 and has now reached more than 895 million views.
The track was actually uploaded on the internet as a teaser, an anti-hit that was intended to fail, according to its Norwegian artists on NBC’s TODAY show. The anti-hit indeed became a hit, however, and racked up more than 100 million views and for a time was the most streamed song online.
Ice Bucket Challenge (2014)
During the summer of 2014, millions of Americans were posting videos all over the internet of themselves dumping large buckets of ice water over their heads. At first bizarre, the videos prompted curious viewers, who tuned in to repeat the act in what caught on as a viral craze known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”
The challenge was relatively straightforward: one would simply upload a video of himself dousing himself in a large bucket of freezing ice water and nominate at least three others to do the same. Those challenged would, in turn, have 24 hours to do the same or make a charitable donation to efforts to combat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Many who participated ended up doing both, dumping water over their heads and challenging others to do the same in addition to donating to ALS research.
The challenge became so popular that even prominent celebrities got in on the charitable episode, including businessman Donald Trump, who nominated this own two sons and then-President Barack Obama.
Obama was challenged by multiple people to take part in the challenge, including pop-star Justin Bieber, but opted to donate to charity instead of reenacting the skit with a bucket of ice water.
Former President George W. Bush, however, wasted no time in taking a splash of freezing water to the face.
The ALS Association reports that it raised $115 million from the Ice Bucket Challenge in its peak 8-week period in 2014.
The Great Dress Debate Of 2015
Is it black and blue? Or white and gold? It’s a divisive question that still haunts us to this day.
The debate began when a woman published a picture of a white and gold dress on a since-deleted post on Tumblr asking for advice on the color of the dress (yes, this author has an opinion on it).
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 27, 2015
Of course, there’s an explanation for it. The New York Times reports that the dress is actually black and blue, and that the perceived differences in color are a result of one’s perception of light depicted in the picture.
“Different people may pick up on different visual cues in the image, which can change how they interpret and name the colors,” the Times explained in 2015. But that just sounds like fake news.
— Professor Snape (@_Snape_) February 27, 2015
Left Shark At The Super Bowl (2015)
The Super Bowl halftime performance is arguably as big as the Super Bowl itself, and in 2015, Katy Perry’s backup dancers stole the show. During Perry’s “Teenage Dream” on stage, the singer included shark backup dancers to spice up the act, but one did not look like the other, and the left shark went viral for it.
The man behind the costume later caught up with NPR, and explained his unconventional style.
“So there’s a set choreography,” he told NPR. “There’s also what’s called free-style choreography, or, like, you get to move around or play your character as a dancer. … I’m in a 7-foot blue shark costume. There’s no cool in that. So what’s the other option? Well, I’m gonna play a different character.”
Pizza Rat (2015)
It was just gross.
Baby Hitler Debate (2015)
In 2015, the New York Times conducted a poll asking readers whether they would go back in time and kill baby Hitler.
— NYT Magazine (@NYTmag) October 23, 2015
The moral dilemma made waves on the internet, throwing the public into an ethical debate that was even posed to presidential candidates on the campaign trail. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said yes, while decorated neurosurgeon Ben Carson said no, reaffirming his pro-life stance.
“I’m not in favor of aborting anybody,” Carson said.
Ken Bone’s Red Sweater (2016)
During the second general election debate between then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, audience member Ken Bone was called upon by debate moderator Anderson Cooper to ask a question to the candidates.
Before the end of the debate, Bone had already become an internet sensation and several national news outlets had devoted entire articles to the Bone’s instant fame. He captivated the audience with his bright red sweater.
Since the debate, Bone appeared on multiple political talk shows to discuss his sudden fame, and has been a meme ever since.
Chewbacca Mom (2016)
Candace Payne brought joy to millions three years ago who watched a giggly, light-hearted video of herself trying on a Star Wars Chewbacca mask in a retail store parking lot.
Payne was unapologetically clear that the mask was her own indulgence, and that while her kids could certainly play with it, the toy was hers.
Payne has since created new videos online but none have garnered the same kind of viral attention that catapulted the Texas woman to internet celebrity status as her Chewbacca clip did in 2016.
Distracted Boyfriend (2017)
It’s a common story. A boy and a girl cupping each other’s hands while enjoying a sunny afternoon in the city seemingly happy with each other, until the man gets caught with a wondering eye, stuck on the end of another woman where no dating man should ever peek.
The 2015 stock photo captivated the imagination of the internet in 2017 when individuals began using the image as a popular meme.
This Twitter user found an entire series of stock images depicting the couple in the infamous photo, portraying an entire love story of devastating heartbreak.
Looking up stock photos for work and I think I found "distracted bf" girl. pic.twitter.com/pU4flzuLDT
— Andrew J Abernathy 鍾偉中心 (@ajabernathy) November 20, 2017
Crazy Dr. Phil Girl (2017)
*Filling out a job application*
“ How do you handle a difficult situation with a rude customer?" pic.twitter.com/8tqLgg9CUc
— Ana 👾 (@_analiciousss) January 10, 2017
Danielle Bregoli became an internet sensation following her viral appearance on the “Dr. Phil” show in January 2017. Her self-righteous outbursts on the show stunned viewers and turned her into an instant internet celebrity for her famous line “cash me outside, how bout dah?” lashed out at the audience following contemptuous laughter.
When asked by the television psychologist what she meant, Bregoli simply repeated herself, mind boggled as to why the question even needed be asked, provoking her mother on stage to explain that the expression means to fight outdoors.
Bregoli’s viral attendance on the show however, launched her fame and success in the music business, becoming the youngest female rapper ever to reach the Billboard Hot 100 in 2017 for her hit single “These Heaux.”
Yanny or Laurel? (2018)
While the nation was still recovering from the internet’s divisive dress debate of 2015, a new controversy swept the World Wide Web, causing many to question their hearing after doubting their sight.
Thus came the Yanny/Laurel debate of 2018, rivaling the dress debate just three years prior in its discord, tearing families and friends apart. It all began with a Reddit post by an 18-year-old high school student in Georgia, who posed the question: Does the published recording say “yanny” or “laurel”?
Like the dress debate, there’s an explanation to be had.
Unfortunately for team Yanny, the true source of the audio clip came from Vocabulary.com’s page for “laurel.” Different people heard different words on the same recording, depending on their device, which portrayed the audio at different frequencies.
The New York Times created an online tool to hear both words on the same audio.
Baby Shark (2019)
— Cillizza Dancing (@CillizzaD) November 11, 2019
Jeffrey Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself (2019)
That’s just a fact.