A historical overview and analysis of one of the top trending memes of today

If you?re a frequent participant in the world of what I like to refer to as the ?Millennial Internet,? then it is near impossible to be immune to meme exposure. If not, memes may seem confusing, and their meanings may be difficult to understand.

Image for postTrying to figure out what a new meme means

Meme:a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Memes as a culture: Above is the best definition of what an internet meme is. However, it is important to understand that memes are much more than this ? they are almost an entire online culture. They come and go in ?fads? or ?trends,? become popular (sometimes world-wide), some have thousands of variations, are usually humorous, can be easily understood by others, are used to communicate feelings/tell jokes/express relateable ideas, etc.

Meme History: Some internet users jokingly (or maybe not so jokingly) refer to different time periods in meme history, including Archaic Memes (dancing baby, 1996), Ancient Memes (O RLY?, 2003), Classical Memes (Rickrolling, 2007), Modern Memes (Condescending Wonka, 2011) and the Meme Renaissance, which began with the popularity of Pepe (Pepe the frog, ca. 2013?2015 until now).

Memes as a Language: Memes are a language in themselves that most internet-savvy youths can use to communicate with each other.

You need to understand the meaning of the meme in order to use it properly ? just like learning the letters of the alphabet, you must learn your memes. For example, the gif above is a meme that is simply referred to as ?Confused lady,? and is usually used to represent somebody who is ignorant/clueless in a certain situation, and/or somebody who?s trying to figure something out. This gif, or variations of it, will accompany a caption. When an internet user reads the caption, and then sees the following meme, they immediately understand what the poster is trying to convey because the meme is a recognizable icon.

Image for postThis version, a four picture set, is frequently used. It has superimposed images of mathematic equations being solved to add to the meaning of ?trying to figure something out?

Now that we?ve covered the basics of memes and meme history, let?s take a deeper look at a popular current (2016) meme.

Arthur?s Fist

Arthur?s Fist, like many of the most popular memes, is a ?reaction image.? This means that it is a visual aid that portrays a specific emotion accompanying something that has been said (in the form of a caption on Twitter, Tumblr, etc.).

Arthur?s Fist is used to portray the emotions of infuriation and/or frustration.

Image for postThe original ?Arthur?s Fist? meme

First UseArthur?s Fist was first used by twitter user @AlmostJT on July 27, 2016.

Image for postFirst use of Arthur?s Fist

Since then, it has been used to accompany thousands of different captions, and remixed into hundreds of different versions.

Origin and Original Context

?Arthur? is the main character of the children?s cartoon of the same name. This specific image is a screen capture of the ?Arthur Punches DW Scene? from Episode 1 of Season 4: Arthur?s Big Hit. In this scene, DW (Arthur?s sister) has broken Arthur?s precious model airplane, and he punches her in his anger.

The image of Arthur?s Fist can be seen at time mark 00:16 of the video above

How did Arthur?s Fist Become Infamous?

Firstly, this episode of the highly popular children?s show was aired on September 6, 1999. It is a show that was popular when most Millennials, such as myself, were kids, and is therefore widely recognized (at least among North American young adults). The first use of the meme was not only humorous, but created a sense of nostalgia.

Secondly, the meme was spread by users over different platforms. After the original use by @AlmostJT, the meme was used by Redditor ?axedowg? with the caption: ?When people say ?Harambe was just a gorilla?? (?Harambe? being another internet meme ? memeception!) .

Image for postby Reddit user axedowg

On July 28, 2016, axedowg submitted the new version of the meme to, where it received 4,800 votes (89% upvoted) and 130 comments within five days.

On the same day, the ?@Arthurs_hand? twitter account was launched, which posted several variations of Arthur?s Fist. Since then, the image and/or variations of it have been spread from Reddit and Twitter to Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media platforms.

Also on July 28, 2016, both Paper Mag and The Daily Dot posted articles about the new meme craze, including different versions of the meme that had cropped up.

Since then, like all popular memes, Arthur?s Fist gained momentum and was spread throughout the internet. Another article was written on August 30, 2016, by The Verge, which highlighted the fact that there were several Arthur memes in production, but that ?The Arthur first meme is the best new meme in a long line of Arthur memes.?

The TrendAccording to this Google Trends graph, which measures the Arthur Fist meme?s popularity worldwide, the meme hit its peak at in early August 2016, dropped down dramatically to less then a quarter of that in late August/early September, and has since spiked a few times, still under the 25% mark. Currently, it is on the up-and-up-again, increasing from 13% to 20% as of October 22, 2016.

Google Trends

Explore search interest for arthurs fist meme by time, location and popularity on Google Trends

Different VariationsFor further Research and Understanding?. And Your Own Meme Enjoyment

Image for postSourceImage for postAnother example of memeception: Infusing Arthur?s Fist with ShrekImage for postSourceImage for postArthur?s Fist irl! (in real life)Image for postSourceImage for postSourceImage for postSourceImage for postSource

and my personal favourite:

Image for postSource

Inspired by this meme, I decided to make my own to express my frustrations:

Image for postmade at


This meme of Arthur’s clenched cartoon fist really says it all

Hey! It’s a wonderful kind of day, where we can learn to work and play, and retweet a ton of memes from the ’90s PBS?

Updated: Arthur Memes Have Officially Taken Over The Internet

UPDATE 08/04/16, 10 a.m.: So looks like the family-focused network behind Arthur has finally gotten wind of the sexual?

The Arthur fist meme is the best new meme in a long line of Arthur memes

I was one of those kids who didn’t have cable. For this reason, my moral compass and world view were shaped by maybe?

Internet Memes timeline

A timeline of Internet Memes events


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