Here are the best memes of 2016

Sometimes, when you feel like the world is crashing down on you, all you need is a good joke to bring you back up.

2016 was a tough year for many, with all the tragedies, controversies, protests and unexpected deaths -- but the memes forged from all the turmoil are strong.

Memes are, if you don't know, internet jokes that go viral and are repeated in unique ways across the web.

Whether it's a picture of a cartoon animal or a pop culture satire, the playfulness of internet users proved a light during a dark and difficult time.

Well, some memes were repurposed for evil. For the most part, they were a nice little distraction.

Check out the highlights:

The best memes of 2016
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The best memes of 2016

1. Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer

A mock conspiracy theory that started in 2013 suggested that the former presidential candidate is actually a serial killer.

2. Tea Lizard

In June, the Good Morning America Twitter account butchered the name of a beloved meme. It called the "that's none of my business" Kermit the Frog photo "#tealizard," thus skyrocketing the original meme back into the public eye. The tweet has also been relentlessly mocked.

3. Evil Kermit

Photo of a cloaked Kermit the Frog (dressed as the Sith Lord from "Star Wars") looking at the normal version of himself has been circulating recently. Social media users tweak the dialogue to show a conversation with their conscience and "evil" inner self.

4. Arthur's fist

People used photos of the cartoon aardvark and titular character of the show "Arthur" to express themselves -- specifically this image of his fist, which portrays anger.

5. Crying Jordan

An image of basketball legend Michael Jordan crying from a video in 2009 started circulating again this year, and it's really so great you need to check it out for yourself.

6. Phelps Face

American swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was spotted looking particularly focused in August before a race, which quickly spiraled into a good old-fashioned meme.

7. Me at the beginning of 2016 vs. me now

2016 was a tough year for all those involved. Twitter users shared 2-4 drastically different photos with the above caption to show just how much the year affected them.

8. This is the ideal male body

Twitter took a break from body positivity (and the harassment that started the movement) to make fun of what has been hailed the "ideal male body."

9. Prankster Joe Biden

Photos of the president and vice president chatting and joking around were fodder for hilarious imagined dialogue in which Biden plots silly pranks to pull on Donald Trump when he takes office.

10. Harambe the Gorilla

The infamous animal was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo in May when a child fell into his enclosure. Outrage ensued as many blamed the parents for the incident, but once that died down, memes began to parody the mourners by taking Harambe's death a step (or hundreds of steps) too far.

11. Damn Daniel

This catchphrase came from a viral montage in which one man excessively compliments his friend, Daniel, for his clothes. It's extremely upbeat and infectious.

12. Ken Bone

During the second presidential debate, a hero emerged -- and it wasn't either of the candidates. Ken Bone stole the hearts of American citizens with his kind-hearted question and his iconic red sweater.

13. Don't talk to me or my son ever again

The catchphrase is used in pairing with a character and its miniature offspring, which is usually modified by Photoshop, but sometimes it happens in the wild.

14. Confused Mr. Krabs

Like Arthur, Mr. Krabs is just one of those expressive cartoon characters that lends himself to lots of memes. His confused look is the most viral.

15. DJ Khaled as a whole

The artist gained serious attention this year thanks to his hilarious Snapchat account, where he coined terms such as "major key" and "you played yourself." He notably shows off his lavish lifestyle, and once got lost on a jet ski.

16. Name a more iconic duo

This meme started with the mockery of a tweet praising the Jenner sisters, and quickly turned into satire.

17. *record scratch* *freeze frame*

This copy/paste meme pokes fun at the moments in TV shows in which you can here a vinyl record scratching before a main character explains what's going on in a situation.

18. Conceited lips

A video of a 2013 rap battle between two rappers named Conceited and Jesse James did not go viral until September 2016 when someone tweeted a GIF of Conceited pursing his lips and rolling his eyes. Now it's used to show disgust or anxiety.

19. Get you a man who can do both

In February, a Twitter user shared two photos of Drake side by side -- the contradicting outfits he wore spawned a comparison meme that quickly took a turn for the weird.

20. You vs. the guy she tells you not to worry about

This Twitter joke requires one unattractive or normal picture that is compared to another picture that is an "upgrade."

21. Drake album cover parodies

The artist's fourth studio album, "Views from the 6," features a tiny picture of him sitting on a ledge. He has since been Photoshopped to sit on nearly every surface imaginable.

22. Mannequin Challenge

Versions of a challenge that requires people to stand still for a prolonged period of time have existed on the internet for decades, but the masterful combination of funny posing, talented videography and the infections song "Black Beatles" by Rae Sremmurd went viral in November.

23. Dat Boi

Dat boi is an instant-classic call and response meme. Whenever the photo of a frog in a unicycle is shared, whoever sees it must respond “o sh*t waddup!” That’s the whole meme.

24. Pepe the frog

Though Pepe has been around for a long time, it skyrocketed in popularity this year when it was commandeered by white supremacists to become a hate symbol. It became particularly well-known when Donald Trump Jr. posted a Pepe meme on his Instagram account.

25. Sad Ben Affleck

Affleck's despondent reaction to a question about the lukewarm reception of "Batman vs. Superman" during an interview catapulted him into meme-dom

26. Confused math lady

The reaction image of Brazilian TV star Renata Sorrah looking confused has been circulating since 2013, but it only recently became popularly used to express confusion.

27. Bernie or Hillary?

In the days of the presidential primaries, photos jokingly comparing Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton's fake opinions about pop culture went viral.


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