The 25 Best Memes of 2023, Explained

The year’s funniest, weirdest and most chaotic viral internet videos, images and jokes

December 19, 2023 6:12 am
A collage of the best memes of 2023, including Barbenheimer, Donald Trump's mugshot, Kevin James shrugging and Kendall Roy as Ken
My Roman Empire.

How do you measure a year? We say in memes. Between spy balloons being shot down and internet-breaking celebrity relationships, 2023 has been a pretty good year for viral moments — which resulted in very good memes.

But before we say au revoir to the year for good, as is tradition, we must first take a stroll through the best memes of 2023. 25 of them to be exact.

So let’s get to it. Below, the best memes of the year, in no particular order.

The Best Memes of 2023


Safe to say the Barbie x Oppenheimer double feature, better known as “Barbenheimer,” was the biggest meme of 2023. Both highly anticipated films were released on July 21, and many moviegoers made a day out of it, seeing Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb epic and Greta Gerwig’s ode to the iconic Mattel doll back-to-back. 

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce

The second biggest meme of the year? Global pop star Taylor Swift and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce’s relationship. Swift was pictured cheering on her rumored beau at a Chiefs game in September and the internet promptly lost its shit, spawning memes like “and seemingly ranch.” Three months later, the relationship seems to still be going strong, with every photo or video captured of the two together still going insanely viral. 


Succession ended its four-season run this year and, in turn, gave us so many meme-worthy moments. One of the most noteworthy was Tom Wambsgans’s scathing takedown of Cousin Greg’s date’s Burberry tote bag in which he describes the sizeable accessory as “ludicrously capacious.”

Our personal favorite meme from Succession’s final season, though, was Kendall Roy desperately, pathetically screaming and spitting “But I’m the eldest boy!” to his siblings after a failed attempt at becoming the company’s CEO. 


Missing the “eldest boy” right about now 😔 #succession #kendallroy #shivroy #fyp

♬ original sound – NEON NZ

Last Year's Memes

The Best Memes of 2022, Explained
30 of the year’s funniest, weirdest and most chaotic viral internet videos, images and jokes

This Barbie

The promotional posters for Barbie did their job in getting us amped up for the summer blockbuster. 

George Santos

While we’ve been engrossed in the former U.S. representative’s string of kooky lies (including how his mother survived 9/11??) since 2022, this year George Santos’s fibs and inappropriate use of campaign funds finally caught up to him, and he was expelled from Congress on December 1. But you can now find him on Cameo, where he is charging $500 for a personalized video message. 

Angela Bassett did the thing

Actress Ariana DeBose’s original rap celebrating female nominees at the BAFTA Awards did not receive the intended reaction from viewers. “Cringeworthy” is probably the easiest term to describe the odd musical number, and many got a kick out of one line in particular: “Angela Bassett did the thing.”

Henry Kissinger dying

Henry Kissinger’s death has been a long-standing Twitter joke since at least 2021 when the account Is Henry Kissinger Dead Yet? cropped up and began giving live updates on whether the controversial U.S. diplomat and former secretary of state had bit the dust or not. Kissinger finally kicked the bucket on November 29, and very similar to when the Queen died, the website produced some of its best work yet.  

Boston police officer catapulting off playground slide 

The image of a Boston police officer unceremoniously clanging down a metal playground slide face down will forever be ingrained in our minds. One of the best memes of 2023, easy.


😂😂 A Boston police officer was hurt after tumbling down a children’s slide at the newly renovated playground at City Hall Plaza – careful wearing polyester on buffed steel 😭😭💀 #Boston #Cops

♬ original sound – Michele

The Titan submersible implosion

For nearly a week, it seemed the entire country was captivated by the Titan, a submersible operated by American tourism company OceanGate, which had lost signal in the North Atlantic Ocean while on its way down to view the Titanic wreckage. It took four days to discover that the submersible had imploded, killing the five people on board, but in the interim, those of us on land became experts in deep-sea diving. 

Trump’s mugshot 

After being indicted on 13 felony charges (his fourth indictment of the year for a total of 91 felony counts), Donald Trump surrendered in Atlanta, Georgia this summer where this Grinch-like mugshot of the former president was taken, and then endlessly meme’d.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski accident trial

On the same day a grand jury in New York voted to indict Donald Trump, Gwyneth Paltrow won her court case over a 2016 ski collision in Utah. The trial is now being turned into a musical

Kevin James

A stock photo of Kevin James sheepishly smiling on the set of his TV sitcom The King of Queens randomly took over the internet in September. 

Spotify Wrapped 

One of the last great mass cultural events, Spotify Wrapped — which uses streaming data to gather your top artists, albums and songs of the year — added a few new features to its annual end-of-year wrap-up, including where you would live based on your music taste. Many X users joked that if your “Sound Town” was Berkeley, Burlington, or Cambridge, you might be gay.

Travis Kelce’s old tweets

Typically when a famous person’s old tweets go viral it’s a cause for concern. But when X users uncovered Travis Kelce’s posts from nearly a decade ago, they just confirmed what many of us had suspected: he’s just a bit of a lunkhead — one who loves naps, Chipotle and manifesting under the moon. Pretty relatable if you ask us. 

The Panera “Lemonade That Kills You

It’s not funny that an unsuspecting fountain drink allegedly killed two people this year, but the two newsworthy incidents did raise one befuddling but imperative question: Why does a lemonade from Panera Bread have 390 mg of caffeine in it????

My Roman Empire

Women asking their male partners how often they think about the Roman Empire led to a newfound internet term. “My Roman Empire” now refers to just about any historical event or cultural phenomenon you think about way too much. 


he got so defensive😭😭 once a week is insane

♬ original sound – ashley lance

Kylie Jenner x Timothee Chalamet

The first video evidence of Jenner and Chalamet canoodling at a Beyoncé concert — confirming their long-rumored relationship — made internet users feel slightly unsettled by the unlikely pair.

Cole Sprouse

Disney Channel and Riverdale star Cole Sprouse appeared on the popular podcast Call Her Daddy earlier this year and…was acting pretty cringe. By smoking cigarettes indoors and spilling the deets about his former relationship with costar Lili Reinhart, to many, Sprouse exuded a sort of pompous douchebaggery. 

The Chinese spy balloon

In early February, a surveillance balloon from China was spotted hovering over the United States, prompting a debate from politicians and internet users over whether the Pentagon should shoot it down. It was eventually popped a few days later. RIP! 

Nicolas Cage looking at Pedro Pascal

A clip of Pedro Pascal beaming at a skeptical Nicolas Cage in the film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was used mainly on TikTok to represent scenarios in which one party is elated by a situation and the other is less than thrilled. 

Bill Hader dancing

An old SNL clip of comedian Bill Hader from 2014 went insanely viral (again!) on TikTok. The clip features Hader doing a wiggly little dance that many young people on the internet connected with.

Orca attacks

When killer whales attack! Yes, these aquatic mammoths (which, historically, have not been a significant threat to humans) have been working together to sink boats in the Strait of Gibraltar. Like cow-tipping, for whales. Multiple orca-boat incidents have been reported since 2020, but 2023 saw a strange uptick in attacks — with four boats being sunk just this year…

Vote for Speaker of the House

One of the best memes of 2023 came just four days into the new year. It took Kevin McCarthy 15 rounds of votes to be elected Speaker of the House just days into 2023, in what was the longest multiple-ballot speaker election since before the Civil War. McCarthy’s perseverance was kind of impressive, but mostly pretty pathetic.

Timothee Chalamet as Willy Wonka

The first trailer for Wonka, starring Timothee Chalamet, was released in July to a mixed response, with many internet users criticizing Chalamet’s lack of whimsy. One line from his monotone-inclined monologue, in particular, was ridiculed to the point of becoming a viral TikTok sound: “You see, I’m something of a magician, inventor and chocolate maker. So quiet up and listen down. Nope, scratch that, reverse it.”


This summer, McDonald’s started selling Grimace Shakes, a berry-flavored milkshake in honor of Grimace’s — the purple, milkshake-loving beast from McDonaldland — 52nd birthday. It didn’t take long for TikTok to turn the new marketing strategy into a meme. Users on the video-sharing app began filming themselves ordering the drink then collapsing and pretending to die. The shakes and ensuing TikTok trend cemented the already-memeable mascot into a cultural icon — akin to our other furry monster friend, Gritty.

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