10 Iconic Memes That Originated From Games

10 Iconic Memes That Originated From Games

Once upon a time in the late 20th century, a company called Despair Inc. started an unintentional revolution. Creating parodies and spoofs of typical workplace posters, particularly the classic format of an image (of something beautiful like a mountain) against a black background and some vague positive mantra to boost the morale of office-bound employees, the art form known as demotivational posters became increasingly popular.

One thing led to another from these sarcastic, anti-establishment posters, spawning an array of online characters, cat videos, epic fails, "owned" compilations, and more upon the internet. Today, internet humor continues to deepen and spiral out of control, becoming so meta to the point where a few years ago, the letter "E" was a joke. Here, we look at a handful of iconic memes that stemmed one way or another from video games.

10 Do A Barrel Roll!

To this day, if you enter "do a barrel roll" into Google and hit search, you're in for a neat surprise. The phrase, which refers to the aerial act of rotating a vehicle 360 degrees to evade gunfire, was a widespread meme in the mid-2000s, with the quote often pitted against images of upside-down cars or fallen ships: "Do a barrel roll! You're doing it wrong".

The 1997 game Star Fox 64 is where the meme comes from, with air commander Peppy Hare to blame for bringing the phrase back into popularity, instructing you to barrel roll your way to safety.

9 Ah Shit, Here We Go Again…

Some meme templates just write themselves. On his return to Grove Street, CJ walks down an empty street and says to himself those famous lines, the empty space to the left of the screen left vacant for an unending number of meme interpretations and photoshop opportunities.

Usually bordering on or fully embracing the pessimistic, such as "when you wake up and go to work," this is one of GTA San Andreas' more accessible and consequently more widespread memes. The image, clip, and soundbite are now used as staple reactions, particularly in gaming when a difficult section or boss fight is encountered.

8 Falcon, PUNCH!

As the years go by without a new F-Zero title since 2004, it's safe to assume that the Nintendo racing series is no more. But extensively worthy of being in the Meme Hall of Fame (if ever such a thing exists) is the iconic Falcon Punch meme.

Made legendary by the spandex-donning Captain Falcon in the Super Smash Bros. series, the slow but immensely powerful Falcon Punch was accompanied by himself stating those lines, narrating his fight moves to dramatic effect. Expectedly, any video of anyone getting punched was being edited with the iconic "Falcon… Punch!" with a flash of lightning for extra attention to detail.

7 Baka Mitai

When voice actor Takaya Kuroda sang Baka Mitai for Yakuza 5, little did he know that the karaoke anthem would be immortalized online in meme form. The song, a playable karaoke track in the quick-time-event minigames in the Yakuza series, captured the hearts and imaginations of players worldwide.

The tragic-yet-uplifting ballad is often bass-boosted at the triumphant climax of the song, typically paired with fail videos at the prime moments of misfortune. Usually, the screen will pause and zoom in on the incident as the track plays, used similarly to the classic "It was at this moment he knew, he fucked up" meme.

6 All We Had To Do, Was Follow The Damn Train, CJ!

Infinitely quotable and equally meme-able, Big Smoke is a gem within the GTA San Andreas goldmine. This particular quote is in reference to the seminal game's notoriously difficult mission entitled Wrong Side of The Tracks, in which Los Santos gangsters CJ and Big Smoke must chase down a train and gun down the fleeing Vagos Gang members.

Upon failing the mission, Big Smoke will chastise CJ and yell the memorable quote. The meme gained such notoriety that even Rockstar referenced it in GTA 5 with a trophy called "Better than CJ" in a train-centric mission called Derailed.

5 Sus

Unless it has already, "sus" is a safe bet of meme terms soon to be added to the dictionary. The incredibly widespread three-letter word is short for "suspicious" and became a staple internet term in late 2020. Popularised by the online multiplayer murder mystery sensation Among Us, players are tasked with identifying an imposter crewmate in their band of astronauts.

Players would direct their suspicions by calling out "sussy" players with the abbreviated word. It's uncommon now to find the word in areas of the web unrelated to the game at all, commonly paired next to images and clips of people or pets acting unusual in any way, shape or form.

4 You Died

A generally self-explanatory meme format, You Died utilizes the all too familiar death screen, message, and sound effects from the Dark Souls series. The spine-tingling shimmer of noise and a deathly message indicating that you have, once again, died has been applied to a vast number of videos primarily involving failure or injury.

It's certainly not the only usage of iconic videogame death sequences, but it is one of the most universally recognized. Others include "Wasted" from the GTA series, Mario's classic Game Over theme, Pac-Man's depressing death cry when he's obliterated by ghosts, and Minecraft's jarring "You Died!" screen paired with its distinctly calm music.

3 Oof

Fun fact: the "Oof" players hear when they die in MMORPG Roblox is officially listed as "Uuhhh" in the game's engine. Regardless, the noise is infamously popular and is a staple meme sound, appropriately suiting just about any video that involves someone falling down.

The 0.34 second sound clip was also the source of controversy too, with original "Oof" voice actor Tommy Tallarico initiating a major dispute regarding the ownership of the audio file. The sound effect is so distinct due to its unconventional nature; not a scream, not a yelp, but an "oof."

2 Sans

Even for seasoned internet scrollers, unexpectedly encountering the first few notes of Megalovania, the now-iconic Sans theme, is a challenge to keep a straight face at. The reason as to why it's considered comedy, though, is a little more ambiguous and convoluted. In a similar fashion to the classic "Rick Roll," the cheeky, blue-jacket-wearing skeleton pops up unexpectedly in videos, accompanied by the arcade-style music intro.

The shock value nature of the format is most likely what made it so popular and accessible, essentially blending themes of jump scares and being so technically unfunny that it, in effect, becomes hilarious.

1 Elder Scrolls NPC encounters

One of the most creatively effective but formulaically simple meme formats to stem from a videogame is the ongoing trend of making real-life appear like an encounter with an NPC. Largely consisting of footage from POV-shot road rage incidents, street fights, and encounters with "Karens" and Skooma addicts (people that are intoxicated), skilled editors simply dub dialogue as subtitles in the same font from The Elder Scrolls series and overlay with music.

Throw in a few dialogue options, battle sound effects, and music that reflects the intensity of the confrontation, and you have yourself not only a meme with a narrative but a great gaming reference.

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