Every single day, the boundless realm of the internet births a multitude of memes. Familiarity with these online snippets often blinds us to their true origin – real human beings, much like ourselves. As they remain suspended in digital snapshots, it’s easy to overlook the passage of time that has shaped their lives since these memes gained viral acclaim. If your curiosity has ever led you to ponder the present visage of the iconic meme protagonists, your curiosity has found a home here.
Presenting an assortment of “then” and “now” images showcasing some of the most renowned meme protagonists. Be prepared for the unexpected, as some may prove a challenge to even recognize in their evolved states. Delve into this unique compilation and witness the passage of time etched upon their faces.
#1 Triumph Kid (Sam Griner)
The genesis of the “Triumph Kid” harks back to 2007, when Laney Griner unveiled a photograph of her son Sam on the Flickr platform. While initially dubbed with the caption “I Disdain Sandcastles,” Laney found the contextual implications unpalatable, painting her son as a bully. This meme swiftly metamorphosed into the “Triumph Kid,” a transformation Laney eventually embraced.
#2 Calamity Maiden (Zoe Roth)
In 2004, Dave Roth immortalized Zoe Roth, a young girl witnessing firefighters quelling a blaze. Her visage graced the pages of a magazine that hosted a photography competition. With the swiftness characteristic of viral phenomena, Zoe’s portrait spread like wildfire, and she expressed the hope that the meme’s fame would aid her pursuit of higher education.
#3 Doge (Kabosu)
The inception of the “Doge” meme traces back to 2013. This photograph of a Shiba-Inu named Kabosu ignited a digital wildfire. Dismissing rumors of its demise, this endearing canine companion thrives and maintains an Instagram presence for those who seek its daily dose of cuteness.
#4 Grumpy Cat (Tardar Sauce)
Tardar Sauce, known more widely as the Grumpy Cat, ascended to stardom in 2012 courtesy of Reddit’s photo-sharing community. The world swiftly fell for the unique countenance of the Grumpy Cat, garnering a legion of global devotees. Regrettably, this feline luminary’s presence dimmed with its passing in 2019.
#5 Roll Safe (Kayode Ewumi)
Emerging from the 2016 BBC documentary series “Hood Documentary,” the “Astute Pondering” meme stars Kayode Ewumi. His cheerful countenance, paired with a finger playfully pointed to his temple, embellished his exclamation of a woman’s beauty being linked to her “mental prowess.”
#6 Blinking White Gentleman (Drew Scanlon)
Unveiling his true identity, Drew Scanlon made the leap from meme to reality. The 2013 gif, extracted from Drew’s gaming stream, captures a moment of gaming incredulity during a Starbound session. This sudden fame arrived with a humorous tale of virtual farming and amusing misunderstandings.
#7 Impeccably Photogenic Gentleman (Zeddie Smith)
Zeddie Little, christened the “Impeccably Photogenic Gentleman,” seized the spotlight in 2012, frozen in time during the Cooper River Bridge Run. Upon being immortalized on Reddit by Will King, the image amassed over 40k upvotes, granting Zeddie a slice of internet immortality.
#8 Sideways Glancing Chloe
Chloe, christened “Sideways Glancing Chloe,” rose to online stardom in 2013 when KAftC released the video “Lily’s Disneyland Surprise… AGAIN” on YouTube. The video documented Chloe and her sister Lily’s Disneyland announcement reactions. The journey continues for Chloe, now boasting nearly 600k Instagram followers.
#9 Misfortunate Brian (Kyle Craven)
The yearbook snapshot of Kyle Craven, showcased humorously by his friend Ian Davies on Reddit in 2012, propelled “Misfortunate Brian” to fame. The caption, “Endures driver’s test… gets DUI,” aptly summarizes this meme’s satirical narrative.
#10 Confused Nick Young (Nick Young)
Originating from the 2014 documentary “Thru The Lens,” the “Baffled Nick Young” meme spotlights a scene where Nick’s mother labels him a “clown” in his formative years.
#11 Harold Concealing the Pain (Andras Arato)
Andras Arato, known colloquially as “Harold Concealing the Pain,” achieved meme status through his portrayal of a stock photographer model in 2011. His visage, laden with concealed anguish, has been embraced by meme enthusiasts, culminating in a 2018 TedTalk recounting his unanticipated online celebrity.
#12 Overly Attached Girlfriend – Laina Morris
In 2012, the “Overly Attached Girlfriend” meme materialized as YouTuber Laina Morris playfully parodied Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” video for a competition connected to Bieber’s fragrance “Girlfriend.” Laina, however, faced a darker side of fame as privacy violations and invasive attempts to access her personal records marred her viral journey, leading her to announce a halt in YouTube content creation in 2019.
#13 Suppressing a Fart Near a Classmate (Michael McGee)
Reddit witnessed the meteoric rise of the “Suppressing a Fart Near a Classmate” meme, birthed by user aaduk_ala in 2014. The caption, “Struggling to stifle a fart next to an attractive classmate,” accompanied an image that captured a hilarious facial expression. In a candid interview, Mike revealed the backstory behind the viral moment, adding a personal touch to the meme’s legacy.
#14 Good Luck Charlie (Mia Talerico)
The meme hailing from Disney Channel’s “Good Luck Charlie” orbits around Mia Talerico.
#15 First-World Predicaments (Silvia Bottini)
Silvia Bottini, an accomplished Italian actress, is the face adorning the “First-World Predicaments” meme, inviting humor into everyday trivialities.