In a year that many people spent at home glued to their devices thanks to a virus, there were many popular memes on social media that struck a chord worldwide.
World War III memes
Tensions between Iran and the US escalated at the start of 2020, with the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Major General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike. Iran responded with a stern warning. And people dealt with their anxiety with war-related memes.
— Saint Hoax (@SaintHoax) January 3, 2020
Me laughing at all the World War 3 jokes and memes then realizing it could actually happen pic.twitter.com/E4Uu0FpSoY
— ً (@heykatori) January 3, 2020
Coronavirus, lockdown and associated woes
As lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 forced people across nations to stay in their homes, memes became about the problems of being at home. There were plenty of memes as people tried to cope, from those that dealt with #WorkFromHome woes to the race for a vaccine.
— Rabee’a Abrar ربیعہ (@rubiaabrar) March 17, 2020
Almost there … hang on … pic.twitter.com/PsouRivm9l
— INJESTERS (@rockyandmayur) November 18, 2020
There were memes about the extensions of the lockdowns, the various ‘home remedies’ and bizarre claims by politicians.
— Inder Kumar (@RunOnSarcasm) April 5, 2020
When public channels began airing mythological epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, there were memes about memorable scenes from the shows.
My brother to my Dad after I ate his portion of Maggi pic.twitter.com/MYDYb6pP2U
— Godman Chikna (@Madan_Chikna) March 31, 2020
The US Presidential election was one of the most talked about subjects on social media and there were memes on various aspects. The chaotic debates, an errant fly and claims of voter fraud were among the subjects that inspired plenty of memes.
— kt (@giveuchills) November 7, 2020
the electoral map if people voted their jean color pic.twitter.com/2jgELGVxZb
— Derek Guy (@dieworkwear) November 3, 2020
Trump’s legal strategy meltdown in one picture. pic.twitter.com/NcWRB0zY3o
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) November 19, 2020
— Swiggy (@swiggy_in) November 16, 2020
Coffin Dance memes
Among the most popular memes of the year was the one involving the dancing Ghanian pallbearers.
The meme – that has a video of the pallbearers set to a 2010 EDM track titled Astonomia – was from 2017, but it was easily the most popular this year. There were plenty of cases in which the meme was recreated in the real world to spread awareness messages. In Google’s global Year in Search 2020 the meme was the Most Popular Dance.
‘What is Binod?’ was one of the most searched phrases in India thanks to a recurring comment on YouTube videos. The comment inspired a YouTube video, which in turn made it one of the most popular memes in the country.
— Harish (@surkastik) August 7, 2020
The meme inspired versions from the official handles of police forces and brands.
Update – Binod just matched with Binodini https://t.co/QmV4IHwgCY
— Tinder India (@Tinder_India) August 7, 2020
‘Rasode mein kaun tha’ memes
— PIB in Maharashtra 🇮🇳 (@PIBMumbai) September 2, 2020
In 2020, the Indian government banned over 100 Chinese apps as border tensions with China escalated. Among them was the wildly popular short video app TikTok, and there were plenty of memes mourning its departure from Indian phones.
All the tiktokers now 😂 pic.twitter.com/28KcjmbVkk
— Shivam yadav (@Shivamy93527382) June 30, 2020
It wasn’t just TikTok. Even popular mobile game PUBG was banned.
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) September 3, 2020
— Khantoshik🥂 (@tomxicc) September 2, 2020
working on a new game pic.twitter.com/vJZaRUgYBt
— Akshar (@AksharPathak) September 4, 2020
‘X Æ A-Xii’ memes
The choice of name for Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s son made waves on social media. His child with partner Grimes in May, had among the most unique names seen in recent times and inspired plenty of memes.
This is how Elon Musk came up his son’s name – “X Æ A-12” pic.twitter.com/BVV7R2AIyF
— Sagar (@sagarcasm) May 6, 2020
Everything is Cake memes
It started with a video of cakes made by a chef, but prompted existential questions about whether ‘everything is cake’.
don’t trust anyone, not even yourself pic.twitter.com/YRqGZhpt9l
— james🌋 (@fueiho_boogie_) July 12, 2020
Anyone else had a chance to try out the new =CAKE function in Excel? pic.twitter.com/pq0Ez8zTM6
My plan vs 2020 memes
Using popular TV and film references, people spoke of how they expected 2020 to go and how it had actually played out.
My plans 2020 pic.twitter.com/2nY6NlQlQZ
— Jenna WEAR A MASK Quigley (@JBomb11) May 18, 2020
The ‘Mentally, I’m here’ memes were also popular as people imagined a reality outside of the one they were stuck with.
mentally im here pic.twitter.com/DJu05OOxEQ
— catboy brainrot (@crystalIexarch) August 20, 2020
Nature is healing memes
Because of no pollution, I can see Burj Khalifa from Noida today. Nature is healing. pic.twitter.com/YeQ1oc8tLx
— Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) April 5, 2020
welcome to McDonald’s what can i get you? pic.twitter.com/iIgd8J5QIW
— McDonald’s (@McDonalds) December 1, 2020
If monolith was found in India 🇮🇳
Last photo highlight 😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/xpzOGmPO3k
— Venu M Popuri 🚲 (@BleedYelloww) December 7, 2020
How it started meme
The meme was used by many to celebrate how a simple start led to something beautiful.
How it started: How it’s going: pic.twitter.com/8IiIHfXCn0
how it started: how it’s going: pic.twitter.com/HQzS9Djab6
— Vikram. (@Ahir_belivess) October 7, 2020
Vibing cat meme
The meme, which has a ‘dancing’ cat superimposed on a video of a street musician singing and playing a drum, was among the most popular memes of the year. Turkish street musician Bilal Göregen has since come up with other performances, but this one remains his most popular.
— ICC (@ICC) December 1, 2020