Most trending memes of 2020: A Throwback

Memes have been a thing on the internet since the early 2010s. However, the quality of memes has risen to a level that has never been seen before. People can relate to them more often as well, as opposed to those in the early days. The coronavirus pandemic has made everyone stay at home for over a year. They have thus spent the majority of 2020 on the internet, & the best form of entertainment is looking at memes while surfing the web. However, memes are funny or relevant for a short period of time. It is thus important to stay committed to keeping up with the shelf cycle of these.

Despite the turmoil in these trying times, the internet managed to produce a ton of hilarious new formats last year and even revived some old favorites with a new twist. Below is a final compilation of the my favorite memes from a depressing 2020, in no particular order:

Money Printer Go Brrr

Money Printer go brrr meme
Source: Collected

This particular meme kicked off 2020 with a strong showing in March. Money Printer Go Brr marked the earliest major format of 2020 with its series of Wojaks representing the Federal Reserve printing money in an attempt to prevent economic decline. From there, the original transformed into a wide range of Wojak Comics with one character replying “Haha X Go Brrr” to an extensive argument made by the other character in opposition. As just one of the many Wojak Comics to spawn from 2020, Money Printer Go Brr was perhaps the most memorable and widespread, so it’s no surprise that makes the list.

Computer go brrr meme
Source: Reddit

CATJAM / Vibing Cat

This originated from an insignificant Tik Tok video back in April. It came from a video of a man pushing a cat’s head to the rhythm of a beat. Twitch turned this meme into an emote, a platform for streaming content & also viewing it. This later became known as Vibing Cat, where it served as a source of meme material for reacting to music or other positive situations. Proving its versatility even further, Vibing Cat was revamped a third time in the Cat Vibing to Street Musician’s Ievan Polkka meme just a couple of months ago. Because the internet loves cats so much & for its ability to work in a range of situations, it became an easy pick for one of 2020’s top memes.


PogChamp meme
Source: TalkEsport

This is most popular among twitch users. The emote made a surprising return last year despite being a decade old. The emote depicts popular streamer Ryan Gutierrez, who makes an exaggerated face with his mouth & eyes wide open in surprise. People use “Pogchamp” & other “Pog” derivatives to express hype & other exciting emotions, albeit sarcastically. While nobody may have seen this coming, its popularity cannot be understated.

Are Ya Winning, Son?

Are ya winning son meme
Source: Imgflip

This is another example of an old meme that resurfaced in 2020. It saw an unforeseen resurgence over the past couple of months. This meme borrowed elements from the original series based on an MS webcomic, featuring a father walking in on his son playing a VR game. The internet revived this timeless format through a spike in wholesome, surreal, & anti-meme variants on sites from Twitter to Reddit as users found new ways to reimagine it for 2020. While the exact origin of the comic is unknown, it may have originated from 4chan due to the use of the name “Anon-Kun,” a reference to the site’s anonymous users. In May of 2020, the template began seeing a resurgence, with a particular spike in wholesome and anti-meme variations.

Wait, It’s All Ohio? Always Has Been

Wait it's all Ohio meme
Source: Imgflip

This meme, while originally introduced in 2016, only appeared sporadically until last year. On August 7th, 2018, an anonymous 4chan user posted the earliest known version of the template, using America as the surprise. The template depicts two astronauts in space, with one learning an earth-shattering truth and the other making sure it never comes to light. Memers continuously reinvented the format through new themes by redrawing the original or photoshopping in new elements. This meme is highly versatile, hence it was one of the most prominent memes of 2020.

The initial template depicted the characters as cartoons. Edits would later come to use more realistic-looking versions of the astronauts.

Always has been meme
Source: Imgflip

Putting On Clown Makeup

Putting on clown makeup meme
Source: Pinterest

This refers to a series of memes based on a step-by-step tutorial guide for applying clown makeup. This format gained initial popularity on Twitter in June 2019. However, it blew up the following year, mostly on Reddit, Tumblr & other social networks. It illustrates a person making an increasingly larger fool of himself as he provides arguments that are increasingly weak or illogical.

This meme originated on October 28th, 2015. SmiffysFancyDress posted a video on YouTube titled “Male Clown Make-up Tutorial”, showing a five-step tutorial for applying clown makeup. As of 22nd February 2020, the video has over 24,000 views. The meme now mocks people offering unpopular opinions by comparing them with clowns.

Bonk (Cheems)

Bonk meme
Source: Imgflip

This includes characters such as Doge & Cheems getting hit on the head with bats, accompanied by the “Bonk” clipart.

This originated on July 13th, 2019. Instagram page snootboopes posted a video based on two images of a Shiba Inu dog. The second image showed the dog humorously malformed with a hand holding a hammer edited in, accompanied by a “bonk” clip art and sound. The video became popular by the following year, & turned into a meme template in no time.


Stonks meme
Source: Pinterest

Stonks is an intentional misspelling of the word “stocks”. The picture began seeing use as a reaction image online in-jokes about making poor financial decisions. 

On 5th June 2017, Facebook page Special Meme Fresh posted the image of Meme Man in front of a stock photo representing the stock market, captioned “STONKS.” The meme gained far more popularity last year, with people sharing several variations of it. Related entries/captions include “Helth”, “Kalm”, “Panik”, “Shef”, “Tehc”, “Kemist”, etc.

Swole Doge vs Cheems

Swole vs Cheems meme
Source: Reddit

This consists of representatives of the same group from two historical eras, presented as Swole (Chad) Doge & Cheems. These two are compared to each other, similar to Virgin vs Chad. It originated on 5th February 2020 from a viral Facebook meme shared by a page named Doges artesanales. It became an instant hit on several media platforms.

I Wish I Was At Home / They Don’t Know

This is comics depicts a subject as anxious and uncomfortable at parties and other social situations. Many variations of the image feature That Feel Guy. It originated on 28th November 2020, when a Twitter user the earliest variation of the meme. The updated version of the meme features the same image with the text “They Don’t Know I’m ‘X’”. It alludes to one’s feelings of self-worth and inadequacy when around strangers.

They don't know meme
Source: Collected

Call An Ambulance But Not For Me

Call an ambulance meme

This meme features ana guy mugging an old man with a knife in the first panel. The would-be victim then pulls out a gun in the second panel to turn the tables and surprise the attacker. The image is usually used with text overlayed on both subjects in the scene that pertains to a victim and assailant swapping roles in the last panel in a surprising manner.

The original clip used in the meme comes from a video posted to Facebook on August 30th, 2018, by the page Las Vegas Gunfights under the title “Call an ambulance.” The clip comes from a “Silver Series Self-Defense” advertisement that’s a workshop class for Las Vegas residents over the age of 65. This meme was largely unused until January 2020, when it began spreading around Reddit and other meme sites after the template was created.

Assassination Chain

Assassination chain meme
Source: Collected

This refers to a memorable scene from the Person of Interest TV series in which four characters hold one another at gunpoint inside a church. In 2020, a multi-panel meme format based on the scene gained popularity on Reddit. The template is sometimes expanded with additional images of people aiming as well. This scene is from the show “The Cold War”, in episode ten of season four.

Getting sniped
Source: Imgflip

Coffin Dance / Dancing Pallbearers

Coffin dance meme
Source: Collected

This was arguably the most popular meme of last year. It consisted of a clip of Ghanian pallbearers dancing with a coffin to the EDM song “Astronomia” by Tony Igy. This meme was perfect in encapsulating such a dismal year. In late May 2020, a Coffin Dance remix video was shared by Donald Trump on his official Facebook page, which mocked a controversial statement made by Democratic rival Joe Biden. Images or reenactments of the meme were even used as a way to convey the dangers of COVID-19 across the globe.

The CEO of the pallbearing business that’s shown in the meme embraced its use for humor across the world. He also hoped that it serves as a future reminder to encourage people to think twice before making risky decisions in their lives. 

Nijhum Ghosh
An avid follower of cricket & football, I like to keep track of the eSports scene as well. I'm also a cinephile & consider myself to be tech-savvy.