Looking Back On All Of The Glorious Memes 2021 Gave Us & This Year Wasn’t So Bad, Was It?

Let’s get real — 2021 didn’t exactly meet anyone’s expectations. But for all the insurrections and lockdowns, we’ve had one continual shining light, guiding us through to better days: memes.

If you look back on the year using memes alone, it’s suddenly not so bad. Without further ado (I know you’re busting to scroll down and are merely being polite by reading this sentence), here are our favourite memes from 2021, month by month (excluding December, because who knows what awaits).

January – Bernie Sanders with his ‘lil mittens

While one-time Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders wasn’t sworn into the Oval Office this January, he took centre-stage at the Inauguration thanks to his fit. While everyone else was in their finest, Bernie braved the cold in a military-green jacket, slacks and some slightly oversized mittens.

He exuded ‘cranky grandad energy’, which people immediately gravitated towards to express their own frustrations about meetings that should have been emails and parties that they didn’t want to be at. Bernie also ended up being photoshopped into pretty much every image imaginable.

FYI, the mittens themselves were a gift from a Vermont schoolteacher, who made them from recycled wool, and now sells replicas with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, with some of the proceeds going to Make-a-Wish Vermont. Doesn’t that make you feel snug?

February – Literally just all of Drag Race UK S2

Between Ginny Lemon’s iconic exit and RuPaul’s hissy fit at Joe Black wearing H&M, February belonged to S2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. And that’s not all, even! In the first ep, Tia Kofi paid tribute to gay mathematician Alan Turing with a non-sensical runway that immediately became a meme.


Then Ginny Lemon decided she was off it and sent herself home by walking off-stage during a lip-sync: important representation for those of us who could not be arsed this year.


Ru’s ridiculous rant at returning contestant Joe Black for wearing H&M on the runway became instantly iconic, as we were soon all screaming about “not wanting to see any FUCKING H&M” at any opportunity.


But it was girl group challenge song ‘UK Hun?’ that really caught on, a completely irresistible track that ended up getting triple j plays, thanks to Mornings host Lucy Smith’s obsession with it. We simply must clap for the bing bang bong.

March – The Ever Given blocks the Suez Canal

For six days, a container ship was stuck in the Suez Canal, disrupting the world’s deliveries and economy, approximately costing the world $400 million for every hour it was stuck. Isn’t that funny? It’s 2021, and yet a boat accidentally getting stuck can still completely screw up millions of people’s lives.

Naturally, we were all obsessed with the Ever Given — which we all originally called the Ever Green, because that’s what it says on the side. I’m sorry, but SIX DAYS is so long: every day, we’d wake up and laugh because the boat was still stuck. We refreshed live blogs documenting the process, we laughed about the futile attempts to dig it out of the shore, we suggested our own ways to free the boat. We argued whether the boat should be freed, or stay there forever. We found love in a hopeless place.

April – History revisited

In April, we all decided to rewrite history, just a little. This photo of Harry Styles on set of Dunkirk? Okay, that’s actually my pop pop.

The ‘look at all those chickens’ Vine star? No, that’s my great-grandma in the old country raising chickens for her family. Sure, it’s basically an update of the classic meme ‘gonna tell my kids this was…’, but it’s too good to not include.

May – That means NOTHING

Sorry to include Drag Race twice, but drag queens really do rule culture. Besides, this one’s a home-grown moment, as Melbourne queen Art Simone’s shocking elimination in E2 of Drag Race Down Under created an instantly legendary moment.

Distraught at going home so early given she was among the cast’s most well-known queens, Art is seen back-stage sobbing when a producer, off-camera, tries to comfort her by saying she should be proud of making it on the show. “That means NOTHING”, she says through tears, more dramatic than Rachel Berry and Joan Crawford combined.


June – For the better, right?

This meme is perfect because it barely relates to its origins, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones. In the film, Padma (Natalie Portman) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) are having a big old chat about government ideologies, and Padma is shocked to find him arguing for a dictatorship. In the meme, Padma’s double-take reaction becomes a substitute for when something isn’t quite right. It’s the prequel trilogy’s biggest impact on pop culture.

July – The beach that makes you Old (2021)

What if we kissed at the beach that makes you old? Director M. Night Shyamalan’s latest horror flick Old became an instantaneous meme when it was released as people ran with its ridiculous premise, where a family try to escape a beach where you mysteriously age a year each half-hour.

August – Milk Crate Challenge

As far as I know, this is the only meme on the list that caused bodily harm to hundreds of people. Thanks to TikTok, millions of people this August suddenly collected as many milk crates as they could find and stacked them into a staircase formation: the challenge was to walk up and down without falling. Funny? Incredibly. Dangerous? Also incredibly, with doctors across the globe imploring people to not try it themselves. Naturally, the fact that people were injuring themselves from a TikTok challenge itself became a meme.


September – AOC’s Met Gala dress

The Met Gala always commands attention, and this year, it was congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s look that caused the most commotion — impressive, considering Frank Ocean had a robotic green alien baby and Camila Cabello was giving Cher. AOC wore a simple custom Brother Vellies ivory wool jacket dress with a message in red on the back: “Tax The Rich”. While some argued over the medium and the message, others quickly photoshopped other important messages onto the dress, including ‘Vote For Pedro’ and Nicki Minaj’s anti-vaccine rant.

October – Squid Game’s Red Light, Green Light

2021’s biggest show creates one of 2021’s biggest memes: who would’ve thought? There’s a lot to play within Netflix’s Squid Game, but the jaw-dropping, deadly game of ‘Red Light, Green Light’ at ep one’s end almost instantly became iconic. Whether you’d make it to the end, instantly be eliminated or relate more to the gigantic murderous doll overlooking the game, there’s a meme for you.

November – Two guys on a bus

Two men sit on opposite sides of a bus: one miserable overlooking a dark cliff wall, the other happy, taking in a sunny mountainous view. The cartoon was drawn by Brazilian illustrator Genildo Ronchi back in 2013, but found new life this November to show the small, big and silly things that bring joy.