2016 has a bad rap for being a terrible year so far. But as the year closes out, one thing remains clear: it was a funny year for the Internet. From a nasty election cycle that held no punches to tragic events like the death of a zoo’s gorilla, people online turned to laughter for their medicinal escape from the morose–and it made for a killer year of memes. Here are some of our favorite laughs from the year.
Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz
Although he was born two years after the first of the Zodiac murders was committed, meaning he couldn’t possibly be the infamous serial killer, Republican presidential candidate hopeful Ted Cruz was quickly tagged by the Internet as the Zodiac killer. The joke started on Twitter and followed him through his entire campaign much to his chagrin.
We can’t fully explain the Damn Daniel meme. A video where Josh Holz follows his friend, Daniel, around and compliments his shoes by repeating “Damn Daniel” shouldn’t be as funny as it was. Maybe we just really needed the laughter in 2016. Perhaps the narrator’s catchphrase was just hard to forget. Either way, it and its multiple spin-off memes were hilarious.
Harambe the Gorilla
When the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla was shot after a four year old crawled into his enclosure, the world went wild. As time passed and the news settled down, a great number of the Internet’s denizens were determined not to let Harambe fade to memory. Crying “dicks out for Harambe” and protesting that Harambe was “not just a gorilla,” Harambe quickly trended on all social media sites as a meme.
The icing on the cake? The Cincinnati Zoo decided to speak out against the Internet’s proclamations of love for Harambe, finding them tasteless, which naturally only made the deceased gorilla more of an Internet sensation.
Don’t Talk to Me Or My Son Ever Again
In a year of dad jokes, it makes sense that this meme took off in 2016 after being introduced in 2014. The meme revolves around showing an image featuring an iconic figure and a miniature–sometimes photoshopped, sometimes natural, and always funny.
Self-sabotage is a foundation of humanity and everyone has a dark side. Enter Evil Kermit. From explaining a relationship faux pas to listening to binge watching Netflix instead of studying, this meme let everyone find common ground while laughing at their demons in a year that was more derisive than usual.
Get You a Man Who Can Do Both
Used to illustrate polar opposites achieved by the same person, this meme started off as a tribute to Drake in tweet form. It quickly spread to every corner of the internet, showcasing the duality certain situations and people can ironically achieve.
Angry Michael Phelps
During the 2016 Olympics, an unfortunate photo of Michael Phelps quickly trended on social media with the Internet crowdsourcing reasons for his upset. It spread like wildfire, eventually leading to the swimmer himself explaining his facial expression: “I just had music going on in my head…I was in my own zone,” he told the Today Show.
Personally, we liked the internet’s explanations better.
The Mannequin Challenge
Although not a traditional meme, the Mannequin Challenge went viral imploring people to be in awkward positions then freeze themselves for a short video. Perhaps the most wholesome Internet sensation this year, it was especially popular for animals with many owners taking to Twitter and Facebook to show their dogs posing with bacon on their heads and more.
— Ryan T (@Ryan_Thomas02) November 16, 2016