At this point, the internet is full of all kinds of iconic memes featuring various people and animals from all around the world. Real-life people and animals with their very real lives. Yes, it’s a simple and a pretty obvious fact but, to be completely honest, I rarely think about it while using these memes in my everyday life.
What are the names of these famous meme heroes? How did the photos of them go viral? Was it intentional? And most importantly—what do these internet legends look like now? Would we still recognize them if we were lucky enough to see them on the street? Today, let’s discuss all of that. Without further ado, Bored Panda invites you to scroll down and find out what your favorite meme celebrities look like now. And as always, don’t forget to vote for your favorites.
#1 Success Kid (Sam Griner)
The meme was born in 2007 after Laney Griner posted a photo of her son Sam trying to eat sand on Flickr. The photo first became famous as a meme captioned “I Hate Sandcastles,” suggesting that the boy had just destroyed another child’s sandcastle. Apparently, Laney Griner didn’t like the context of the meme as she felt it made her son look like a bully, when in fact, he loved sandcastles. But then the “Success Kid” meme was created and the woman embraced it. Since then, the photo has been featured in various ads, appeared on Hot Topic shirts, Xbox screensavers, and many more.
Image credits: Sam Griner, Success Kid
#2 Doge (Kabosu)
The meme became popular in 2013 and was based on a 2010 photo of rescue-adopted Shiba Inu dog Kabosu that the owner uploaded to her personal blog. In the shot, Kabosu is captured sitting on a couch while glaring sideways at the camera with raised eyebrows. Kabosu is now 15 years old and she has an Instagram account.
Image credits: kabosumama
#3 Grumpy Cat (Tardar Sauce)
Grumpy Cat, whose real name was Tardar Sauce, first became famous after a few of her photos were posted on Reddit in late September 2012. The cat was known for her permanently grumpy appearance, which resulted from an underbite and feline dwarfism. Grumpy Cat’s official Instagram account has over 2.5 million followers. Sadly, the cat passed away in May 2019 aged 7.
Image credits: realgrumpycat
#4 Disaster Girl (Zoe Roth)
The iconic photo originated back in 2004 when Dave Roth, the father of Zoe, captured her observing firefighters controlling the blaze two blocks away from their home in Mebane, North Carolina. In November 2007, Dave entered the shot into a competition run by a photography magazine and won it. After that, the photo was published in the magazine. Since then, Zoe’s photo has been edited onto images of various famous events and has taken the internet by storm. “I’d love for the meme to help me get into or pay for college somehow,” Zoe told Refinery 29 a few years ago. “But I ultimately want people to know me for me.”
Image credits: zoeroth
#5 Side-Eyeing Chloe (Chloe)
Chloe went viral on the interwebs back in 2013 after the YouTuber KAftC posted a video titled “Lily’s Disneyland Surprise… AGAIN” capturing two sisters, Lily and Chloe, reacting to the news of a surprise trip to Disneyland on their way to school. While Lily is breaking in tears of joy, Chloe is captured looking straight into the camera with a disturbed look on her face as if she’s not quite sure what’s happening. If you’d like to see more of Chloe and how much she’s changed, you can check out her personal Instagram account with over 580k followers.
Image credits: Lily & Chloe
#6 Blinking White Guy (Drew Scanlon)
The man starring in this iconic meme is named Drew Scanlon. The GIF comes from a live stream shot in 2013, when Drew Scanlon was a video producer at the popular gaming website called Giant Bomb. During one of the team’s weekly “Unprofessional Fridays” shows, Scanlon watched as editor-in-chief Jeff Gerstmann played Starbound, a two-dimensional action-adventure game. “I’ve been doing some farming,” Gerstmann narrated, “with my h*e.” Scanlon reacted with the expression now known as the “Blinking White Guy.”
Image credits: drewscanlon
#7 Harold Hiding The Pain (András Arató)
The meme captures a senior stock photography model, András Arató, with a facial expression that appears to indicate suppressed pain. The meme was born in September 2011, when the stock photo with DreamTime’s watermark was posted on the Facepunch forum. In September 2018, András Arató hosted a TedTalk in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he discussed the story of his life as a “meme-hero.”
Image credits: BuzzFeedVideo
#8 Bad Luck Brian (Kyle Craven)
This photo was turned into a meme after Ian Davies uploaded a yearbook photo of his friend Kyle Craven to Reddit with the caption “Takes driving test .?.?. gets first DUI” in January 2012. Apparently, before taking the photo, Kyle rubbed his face with a sweater to make it red and adopted an obnoxious smile. The meme is generally used to describe a variety of unlucky, embarrassing, and tragic events.
Image credits: mnhaverland
#9 Trying To Hold A Fart Next To A Cute Girl In Class (Michael McGee)
The meme was born in 2014 when Reddit user aaduk_ala submitted a photograph titled “Trying to hold a fart next to a cute girl in class” to the /r/funny subreddit. “Well, the guy who took the picture has been a good friend of mine since I first moved out here to Texas, so he knew I was able to make the face anytime I wanted,” Mike McGee told Unilad. “So he wanted to make a funny Twitter caption and told me to make the face. He posted it and like two or three months after he posted it, it took off!”
Image credits: aaduk_ala
#10 Roll Safe (Kayode Ewumi)
The meme comes from the 2016 BBC Three mini-documentary series “Hood Documentary” in which the character played by the actor Kayode Ewumi is shown pointing to his head and smiling after saying that he finds a woman “beautiful” because “she’s got good brains.” Kayode Ewumi is currently 27 years old.
Image credits: BuzzFeed UK
#11 Confused Nick Young (Nick Young)
The photo featuring NBA basketball player Nick Young is a screenshot from a 2014 episode of the YouTube web series “Thru The Lens.” There’s a scene in which Nick makes a perplexed facial expression when his mother claims he was “a clown” in his younger years.
Image credits: Nick Young
#12 Ridiculously Photogenic Guy (Zeddie Smith)
The “Ridiculously Photogenic Guy” meme captures a man named Zeddie Smith running in the 2012 Cooper River Bridge Run. The shot gained quite a bit of popularity online after being posted on Reddit by computer programmer Will King, who took the photo, where users found the man to be incredibly handsome. The photo received over 40k upvotes.
Image credits: Zeddie Little
#13 Overly Attached Girlfriend (Laina Morris)
The meme was born in 2012 after a YouTuber named Laina Morris posted a video in which she performs a parody version of Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” with personalized lyrics that have been perceived as clingy. The video was submitted in response to Bieber’s announcement of an online sing-off contest in promoting his celebrity perfume “Girlfriend.” Unfortunately, after becoming a meme, Morris has dealt with some serious privacy issues, such as strangers finding her personal Facebook page and talking to her friends as well as people trying to access her college records. In 2019, Morris announced that she’s quitting YouTube for good.
Image credits: Laina
#14 First World Problems (Silvia Bottini)
Turns out, the woman from the “First-World Problems” meme is actually an award-winning Italian actress, Silvia Bottini.
Image credits: silviabottini_
#15 Aliens Are To Blame For Everything (Giorgio Tsoukalos)
The guy behind the famous meme is a Swiss-born writer, ufologist, TV presenter and producer Giorgio Tsoukalos. The guy is mostly known for his appearances on the TV series called “Ancient Aliens.” Fun fact—Giorgio is a proponent of the pseudoarchaeological theory that ancient alien astronauts interacted with ancient humans.
Image credits: Giorgio A. Tsoukalos
#16 Scumbag Steve (Blake Boston)
The photo came from the cover of the album “Ma Gangsta” by the rap group Beantown Mafia and was first posted on Reddit in January 2011. The pic captures a guy named Blake Boston, also known as “Weezy B.” In an interview with Know Your Meme, Blake revealed that the picture was originally taken by his mother. “I have no regrets in my life… no matter what I do. I can completely f*ck up on something and I still don’t regret it. Because at the end of the day, that makes me who I am, so I wouldn’t go back and erase anything, if I were to go back in time,” the man told in an interview with RoughDraft TV.
Image credits: BlakeBoston617
#17 Sweating Jordan Peele (Jordan Peele)
The famous gif/photo was born in September 2013, after the 3rd season premiere of “Key and Peele” aired in the US. The episode from which the meme originated includes a scene where a character played by Jordan Peele nervously sweats in response to his girlfriend confronting him about his internet habits.
Image credits: JordanPeele
#18 A Schoolboy In A Swamp (Igor Nazarov)
16-year-old Russian schoolboy Igor Nazarov went viral on the interwebs back in 2016 after he did a photoshoot capturing him in the middle of a swamp behind a desk wearing a suit. The photo was taken in order to later be submitted to the most unusual photo contest in order to win a $277 prize.
Image credits: Igor Nazarov
#19 Good Luck Charlie (Mia Talerico)
The “Good Luck Charlie” meme came from a scene from the Disney Channel show “Good Luck Charlie.” The photo and the GIF are often used as a synonym for “I don’t know.”
Image credits: Mia Talerico
#20 Ermahgerd (Maggie Goldenberger)
The “Ermahgerd” (which is a rhotacized pronunciation of “oh my god”) meme first emerged on March 14th, 2012, as a post titled “Just a book owners smile…” The picture captures a girl named Maggie Goldenberger who, at the time, was around 11 years old. Maggie said that the picture was created in fourth or fifth grade when she and her friends seriously got into playing dress-up.
Image credits: Maggie Goldenberger
#21 Dramatic Dmitry (Vladimir Brest)
The “Dramatic Dmitry” photos are, in fact, images from the album Paranoia by Russian musician Vladimir Brest. The album was released in April 2011. “I myself am generally positive. However, I want my songs to be attached to these memes. It is also bad that most of the pictures are obscene. All this is seen by children. I don’t want to be a person guilty of degradation and corruption of the young generation,” the musician told Progorodsama back in 2013.
Image credits: Vladimir Brest
#22 Hipster Barista (Dustin Mattson)
The meme originated in 2011 when someone uploaded it to a website called Quickmeme with a caption “I got this tattoo for my love of coffee, I got this one because it’s ironic.” “I do find it discouraging and disappointing that there was so much exposure brought to an attempt at making a joke of a culinary industry and the professional barista. To me, it’s very telling on how we laud farm-to-table food, craft beer, cocktail mixology, but it’s ok to have no respect for the specialty coffee world and the people who are committed to it,” Dustin said in an interview with Eater.com.
Image credits: DustinColeMmm