The Best Memes of 2019

From 'Baby Yoda' & Spongebob's 'Imma Head Out' to Paul Rudd on Hot Ones, here are Complex's picks for best memes of 2019.

Best Memes of 2019
Complex Original

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Best Memes of 2019

If it isn’t a meme, is it even funny? Of course not, but these days, it’s hard to tell if something even went viral if there wasn’t a meme-able moment attached. It’s the universal language that connects the timelines we watch the world through and should be truly celebrated for the art form it is.

With social media moving at the speed of light, it’s hard to remember the memes that kept us laughing through the day. From moments in our favorite television shows to repurposing nostalgia for that feeling to using newsworthy clips to joke on everyday situations, memes are everything. Sometimes, they are the only thing.

From 'Ight Imma Head Out' to Soulja Boy yelling "DRAKE?!!?!?," let’s take a look back at the best memes of 2019.

25. Andy King’s Fyre Festival Blowjob story

Andy King, 'FYRE'

24. Kylie Jenner's "Rise and Shine"

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Would this be a Best Memes of 2019 list without something from the Kardashian clan? This year, the biggest meme from their family is of Kylie Jenner singing "rise and shine" to a sleeping Stormi. Kylie of course got flipped into everything from the sun in Teletubbies to giving her sister Kim Kardashian a wake-up call. Kylie had the last laugh, though, going viral for singing "rise and shine" live at an art auction in Los Angeles—the same one that Justin Bieber sang "Baby" at.

23. Kawhi Leonard's "What It Do Baby?"

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With everyone wondering if the Raptors could take the Finals and win their first chip, it was dope to see NBA star Kawhi Leonard's attitude in real-time as the team celebrated. Somehow, his "what it do, baby?!" turned into the line that symbolized everything from the paper clip in Windows '97 to Apple Music unexpectedly hitting your bank account, and the world was better for it.

22. The Arya Stab

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One of the most memorable moments in an ultimately lackluster season of Game of Thrones is from the Battle of Winterfell, and features Arya Stark getting the drop on the Night King. The timeline was flooded with images it inspired, featuring everything from Arya on Dame Lillard’s body to the Air Jordan logo flipped to Arya with a knife. There was even an #AryaChallenge, where people tried to do everyday things with the same “drop” that Arya used. Brilliance.

21. Tough Guy Entrance

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Back in March, a man by the name of Jawad Bendaoud got four years in prison for taking in two jihadists involved in the November 2015 Paris terror attacks. That’s a dark start for a meme, but based on the look on his face, you can’t not use that clip to show how a sub might enter a room when the class is wildin’ out, or when you realize how shitty your Avengers: Endgame seats are. Too perfect.

20. Hannibal Buress Looking At His Hands

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The Eric Andre Show birthed a number of memes, but the abundance of memes featuring Hannibal Buress doing odd shit is so satisfying. One of 2019's best featured Hannibal looking at his hands like he just wrote Reasonable Doubt, and basically everyone used it to describe something they did in their lives like they just wrote Reasonable Doubt.


18. Wave Check

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This meme wins because it not only highlighted dope Photoshop skills, but it also tapped into the AirPod craze after the holiday season. Starting with an image of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., with a pair of AirPods in, it’s given the likes of Doge, Dragon Ball Z characters, and more the waves-and-AirPods treatment.

17. Crying R. Kelly

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2019 definitely feels like the start of R. Kelly’s ending, beginning with the Lifetime docuseries on the decades of allegations of sexual misconduct finally doing real damage to his career. After that dropped, he visited Gayle King for an interview on CBS This Morning that ended up with him ranting, yelling, and crying about how these allegations have ruined his life. How Kelly thought this would turn into anything other than open meme season on him is beyond us.

16. "Draaake?!??"

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Soulja Boy had a (mostly bad) moment earlier this year, but his Breakfast Club interview culminated in an exchange where, when asked about Drake, SouljaBoyTellEm stood up and started screaming, “DRAAAAKE?!?!” It’s a hilarious clip, but got turned inside out when applied to any situation where a request or comment was seen as being absurd AF. 




12. Spice Adams’ laugh

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This might be the messiest meme on the list, primarily because it’s the ultimate fakeout. A clip of Spice Adams’ Kawhi-trumping laugh turning into an immediate scowl/side-eye situation is the ultimate shade clip. It’s short, to the point, and perfect for situations where you don’t want to let your real thoughts or intentions out and are willing to keep up appearances.

11. All of the 'Joker' Memes

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It was inevitable: Joaquin Phoenix's Arthur Fleck in one of 2019's most talked-about films, Joker, would get a major meme workout. IRL, most people stuck to dancing on those iconic steps—pissing off real New Yorkers in the process. One of the illest is the image of Joker rocking a Nike tech fleece, which perfectly encapsulated a certain type of individual you may be trying to clown (pun intended).

10. 6ix9ine in Court

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Say what you will about 6ix9ine, but there’s talk of him talking about the people he used to associate with reducing his jail time. For anyone looking to finesse a situation by putting someone else down, the image of Tekashi in a courtroom, spilling his guts about others supposedly doing more than him, is all you really need.

9. Keke Palmer "Sorry To This Man"

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This is just perfect. Keke Palmer, aka one of the best parts of Hustlers, was taking a lie detector test during a Vanity Fair video and said what we all see when we are presented with a picture of Dick Cheney: "I don't know who that is". It was funny, and her apology ("sorry to this man") is the right amount of genuine feeling about someone you definitely don't know that the internet connected with. Use it however you see fit.

8. All of the First We Feast "Hot Ones" Memes

“Sure, Complex,” you’re probably saying. “Of COURSE you’d reference a Hot Ones meme!” You can’t front like Shaq’s memorable appearance didn’t churn out some insane reactions. It’s also kind of like meme-ception, considering that our own flip of Shaq’s reactions using Snapchat’s baby filter had a life of its own.

It wasn't just Shaq, though; Idris Elba choking had a life of its own, and the one and only Paul Rudd's "look at us" had a life unto its own when that episode released. One has to wonder if the upcoming Hot Ones TV show will spark its own memes and viral moments.

7. Trying Kombucha for the First Time

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I can't stand Kombucha, and I'm guessing that Brittany Tomlinson, who many just know now as "Kombucha girl," was the same way before she tried it and...liked it? Or didn't. It's hard to say. The above clip blew up, and now she signed with UTA to help guide her now-viral career, potentially giving her the title of first TikTok personality. Not bad for the face you make when you're deciding if the Popeyes chicken sandwich is better than the one at Chick-fil-A.

6. Ah Shit, Here We Go Again

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The Grand Theft Auto video game series is one of the greatest of all time, and San Andreas, which took the ’90s gangsta lifestyle and turned it into an epic journey, is perfect nostalgia right now. A scene from the beginning of the game, where CJ is dropped off in the hood only to say, “Ah shit, here we go again,” at his plight had been bubbling online for a bit, but exploded this past April to express frustration at multiple-boss levels in video games, the next Star Wars film, YouTube videos being down because of copyright claims, and more. Anytime some bullshit is going down again? Here’s the green-screened version. You’re welcome.

5. Area 51

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Back in July, roughly 500,000 people pledged to storm Area 51. The Facebook event didn't sound serious, which is part of the viral fun, and while only 100 people showed up, that didn't stop the internet from going HAM on creating Area 51 memes. There were different subcategories, some that involved that creepy alien doll that would be seen getting helly lit for a time. It was every joke you'd ever want to make about aliens, all happening for one hot summer. Gotta love it when everyone embraces a joke.

4. Baby Yoda

Baby Yoda

3. Ight Imma Head Out

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Like most Spongebob memes, the "imma head out" image looks like someone randomly paused the show while watching a rerun and realized they were sitting on a goldmine. Screengrab and add some ALL CAPS text. With the year (and decade) we've been having, there seems to be a new story or situation occurring every day that makes you want to just get right up and walk out right now.


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