Ten Unforgettable Web Memes

Cats and failures highlight this list of the memes that have gone mainstream. Which ones did we miss?

Chuck Norris became an Internet sensation when late night host Conan O'Brien featured clips from "Walker, Texas Ranger" on his show. (© Cannon / courtesy Everett Collection)

Rickrolling (2007)

Rick Astley Rickrolling
(Redferns / Getty Images)
All the hallmarks of a bad-1980s music video are there: Big hair, synthesized chords, bad dancing and desolate urban settings. But even then, no one really knows for sure why the Rick Astley video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” became such an internet sensation. To “rickroll,” is to send someone a link under the auspices that it is something more interesting, only to fool them into watching the music video. The genesis for the prank came from 4chan, where “duck rolling” was the term meant teasing a provocative headline with an image of a duck on wheels. From there, it evolved to a fake Grand Theft Auto IV trailer that linked to the Astley video. The meme could have “jumped the shark” when Astley was given a spot in 2008’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, perhaps the antithesis of sites like 4chan, but the trick still has its moments. When the cache of Wikileaks documents was dumped in late 2010, a spoof of the official documents appeared with the lyrics to “Never Gonna Give You Up.” -- BW

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