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The 21 Most Defining Memes of 2023

From viral dances to lil-stinker promo shots to songs we couldn’t get our of our heads, our favorite Very Online moments of the past year

21 most defining memes of 2023

2023 WAS A heck of a year on the internet. Whether we were eating our girl dinners or declaring our allegiances in the orca wars, this year was jam-packed with memes that captivated us even harder than the Roman Empire. The following are some of the most defining memes of 2023, from nepo babies to babygirl. Here’s to our bygone memes, and may 2024 be as fruitful.



Pedro Pascal. Jeremy Allen White. Kendall Roy. Did we mention Kendall Roy? 2023 was the year that everyone became babygirl. To be “so babygirl” eludes definition. It does not necessitate being a baby, nor a girl — in fact, the endearing moniker has most typically been seen applied to adult men. Though often used as a sort-of-synonym for “cute,” it became particularly popular as an ironic descriptor, bestowed upon some of the darkest or even downright villainous of TV characters.


Serving Cunt

2023 was the year “cunt” went mainstream. What was once deemed the granddaddy of curse words, so offensive even the most casually swear-y might wince at it (at least in the US), cunt had a big moment this year.Cunt’s reclamation — not as a crude synonym for vagina, but rather as a term of femininity and empowerment — has its roots decades earlier, originating with trans women of color in the New York City ballroom scene. In recent years, shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Pose have taken drag culture mainstream, bringing its lexicon with it into the popular slang vernacular (e.g. “slay” and “it’s giving”). In particular, the phrase “serving cunt” became ubiquitous as a meme in 2023, appearing in tons of viral tweets that asked how to do so in a “god-honoring way,” “elderly way,” or “a way that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion,” to name a few.


Planet of the Bass

Everybody, movement!!! “Planet of the Bass” — the Europop parody song by DJ Crazy Times and Ms. Biljana Electronica (aka TikTokker Kyle Gordon and vocalist Chrissi Poland) — dropped in August and became an instant smash hit. Reminiscent of novelty songs like Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” and Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee),” the viral earworm featured such poetic lyrics as “When the rhythm is glad / There is nothing to be sad” and “Life, it never die / Women are my favorite guy.” The role of Ms. Biljana Electronica, performed in the original video by TikTokker Audrey Trullinger, was played by a rotating cast TikTok stars in subsequent videos, parodying the genre’s proclivity for swapping out their female stars without explanation.


Grimace Shakes

On June 12, McDonald’s began selling the “Grimace Shake,” a berry-flavored milkshake honoring the 52nd birthday of their furry purple mascot. The shake was an instant hit… though probably not in the way McDonald’s had intended. A trend emerged on TikTok in which users would taste the frozen treat, then suddenly collapse in a scene straight out of a horror movie, often convulsing as the lavender liquid spurted from their prone bodies. Some even showed Grimace himself, lingering in the shadows, basking in the grisly aftermath of his apparent kill. In response to the meme, McDonald’s tweeted an image of a stricken-looking Grimace, writing, “meee pretending i don’t see the grimace shake trendd.”



Barbie was the unmatched star of 2023, spawning so many memes it could practically have its own list. Before the movie even came out, stills from the trailer (e.g. “Do you guys ever think about dying?”) exploded online, and posters featuring the film’s cast members became a hugely riffed upon meme format. Due to its shared release date with Oppenheimer, the two movies, though wildly different from each other, became collectively known as “Barbenheimer” and launched even more memes.After its record-breaking opening weekend, iconic phrases from Barbie — including “just Ken,” “Kenough,””my job is just beach,” “mojo dojo casa house,” and “long-term long-distance low-commitment casual girlfriend” — entered the mainstream lexicon, and had everyone saying “Hi, Barbie!” all summer long.