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This is a list of phenomena specific to the Internet, such as popular themes and catchphrases, images, viral videos and more. Such fads and sensations grow rapidly on the Internet because its instant communication facilitates word of mouth. In the early days of the Internet, phenomena were primarily spread via email or Usenet discussion communities. Today, many of these phenomena are also spread via popular, user-based or social networking Web sites, including (but not limited to) 4chan, Digg, Facebook, Fark, Flickr, Myspace, Slashdot, Something Awful, or YouTube. Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing may also amplify the propagation of these phenomena.
- FreeCreditReport.com — series of TV commercials that were posted on the Internet; many spoofs of the commercials were made and posted on YouTube.
- Lowermybills.com — Banner ads from this mortgage company feature endless loops of cowboys, women, aliens, and office workers dancing.
- Embrace Life — a public service announcement for seatbelt advocacy made for a local area of the UK which achieved a million hits on its first two weeks on YouTube in 2010.
- Shake Weight - Infomercial clips of the modified dumbbell have gone viral as a result of the product's comically sexual suggestive nature.
- The Man Your Man Could Smell Like — A television commercial starring Isaiah Mustafa reciting a quick, deadpan monologue while shirtless about how "anything is possible" if men use Old Spice. It eventually led to a popular viral marketing campaign which had Mustafa responding to various Internet comments via short YouTube videos on Old Spice's YouTube channel.
- "Caramelldansen" – A spoof from the Japanese visual novel opening Popotan that shows the two main characters doing a hip swing dance with their hands over their heads imitating rabbit ears, while the background song plays the sped up version of the song Caramelldansen sung by the Swedish music group Caramell. Also known as Caramelldansen Speedycake Remix or Uma uma dance (ウマウマダンス) in Japan, the song was parodied by artists and fans who then copy the animation and include characters from other anime performing the dance.
- Charlie the Unicorn — A three-part series of videos involving a unicorn who is repeatedly hoodwinked by two other unnamed unicorns, colored blue and pink, who bring him on elaborate adventures in order to steal his belongings or cause him physical harm.
- Dancing baby – A 3D-rendered dancing baby that first appeared in 1997 by the creators of 3D Studio MAX, and became something of a late 1990s cultural icon in part due to its exposure on the television series Ally McBeal.
- Homestar Runner – A Flash animated Internet cartoon by Mike Chapman and Craig Zobel, created in 1996 and popularized in 2000, along with Matt Chapman. The cartoon contains many references to popular culture from the 1980s and 1990s, including video games, television, and popular music.
- Joe Cartoon – Alias of online cartoonist Joe Shields. Best known for his interactive Flash animations Frog in a Blender released in 1999. Two of the first Flash cartoons to receive fame on the internet.
- Loituma Girl (also known as Leekspin) – Loop of Orihime Inoue from Bleach twirling a leek set to the music of Loituma.
- This Land is Your Land – Flash animation produced by JibJab featuring cartoon faces of George W. Bush and John Kerry that parodies the United States presidential election, 2004. The video became a viral hit and viewed by over 100 million, leading to the production of other JibJab hits, including Good to be in D.C. and Big Box Mart.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny – A lethal battle royal between many notable real and fictitious characters from popular culture.
- Happy Tree Friends – A series of flash cartoons featuring cute cartoon animals experiencing violent and gruesome accidents.
- Bill Gates E-mail Beta Test – An e-mail chain-letter that first appeared in 1997 and was still circulating as recently as 2007. The message claims that America Online and Microsoft are conducting a beta test and for each person you forward the e-mail to, you will receive a payment from Bill Gates of more than $200. Realistic contact information for a lawyer appears in the message.
- Mouse Ball Replacement Memo – A memorandum circulated to IBM field service technicians detailing the proper procedures for replacing mouse balls, yet filled with a number of sexual innuendos. The memo actually was written by someone at IBM and distributed to technicians, but it was distributed as a corporate in-joke, and not as an actual policy or procedure. On the Internet, the memo can be traced as far back as 1989.
- Neiman Marcus Cookie recipe – An e-mail chain-letter dating back to the early 1990s, but originating as Xeroxlore, in which a person tells a story about being ripped off for over $200 for a cookie recipe from Neiman Marcus. The e-mail claims the person is attempting to exact revenge by passing the recipe out for free.
- Goodtimes virus – An infamous, fraudulent virus warning that first appeared in 1994. The e-mail claimed that an e-mail virus with the subject line "Good Times" was spreading, which would "send your CPU into an nth-complexity infinite binary loop", among other dire predictions.
- 300 – The film 300 originated a series of image macros featuring variations of the "This is Sparta" phrase associated with images of disparate situations, often superimposing the film's main character's face onto people in the image.
- The Blair Witch Project – The first film to use the Internet for astroturfing. Its makers spread rumors that the material they shot was authentic and that the three protagonists really disappeared in Burkittsville.
- Brokeback Mountain — inspired many online parody trailers.
- Cloverfield – Paramount Pictures used a viral marketing campaign to promote this monster movie.
- Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus – The theatrical trailer released in mid-May 2009 became a viral hit, scoring over one million hits on MTV.com and another 300,000 hits on YouTube upon launch, prompting brisk pre-orders of the DVD.
- Party Girl – First feature film shown in its entirety on the Internet (June 3, 1995).
- Snakes on a Plane – Attracted attention a year before its planned release, and before any promotional material was released, due to the film's working title and seemingly absurd premise. Producers of the film responded to the Internet buzz by adding several scenes and dialogue imagined by the fans.
- Downfall - the film originated a series of videos replacing the subtitles which have Adolf Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) ranting over various topics.
- "All your base are belong to us" – Badly translated English from the opening cut scene of the European Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version of the 1989 arcade game Zero Wing, which has become a catchphrase, inspiring videos and other derivative works.
- Giant Enemy Crab – The embarrassing Sony conference from E3 2006 in their promotion of the PlayStation 3, particularly focusing on Kaz Hirai's presentation and the demonstration of Genji 2; the presentation coined such phrases as "Giant Enemy Crab", "599 US Dollars" and "Riiiiiidge Racerrrr!"
- Leeroy Jenkins – A World Of Warcraft player charges into a high-level dungeon with a distinctive cry of "Leeeeeeeerooooy... Jeeenkins!", ruining the meticulous attack plans of his group and getting them all killed.
- Line Rider – A Flash game where the player draws lines that act as ramps and hills for a small rider on a sled.
- I Love Bees – An alternate reality game that was spread virally after a 1 second mention inside a Halo 2 advertisement. Purported to be a website about Honey Bees that was infected and damaged by a strange Artificial Intelligence, done in a disjointed, chaotic style resembling a crashing computer. At its height, over 500,000 people were checking the website every time it updated.
- Vanishing Point - In what is claimed to be the largest internet puzzle game, Microsoft created an online game in 2006 to promote the launch of Windows Vista, with a grand prize of a trip to space. Originally advertised with cryptic messages, the game received much attention in online forums where people would work together to solve the challenges.
- Ate my balls – An early example of an Internet meme. Created to depict a particular celebrity or fictional character eating testicles.
- Allison Stokke - A high school track athlete who in 2007 had a year-old picture of her adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had made its way across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.
- Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures – A popular meme in the People's Republic of China regarding a series of mythical creatures, with names which referred to various Chinese profanities. Seen as a form of protest against increased Internet censorship in China introduced in early 2009.
- Bert is Evil – A satirical website stated that Bert of Sesame Street is the root of many evils. A juxtaposition of Bert and Osama Bin Laden subsequently appeared in a real poster in a Bangladesh protest.
- Crasher Squirrel – A photograph by Melissa Brandts of a squirrel which popped up into a timer-delayed shot of Brandts and her husband while vacationing in Banff National Park, Canada, just as the camera went off. The image of the squirrel has since been added into numerous images on the Internet.
- Heineken Looter Guy – An Associated Press photo taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, under the caption, "A looter carries a bucket of beer out of a grocery store in New Orleans." – the original photo shows a black man in waist-deep waters carrying a tub full of bottles of beer. This image and the man's face were incorporated into a parody of a Heineken magazine advertisement.
- Islamic Rage Boy – A series of photos of Shakeel Bhat, a Muslim activist whose face became a personification of angry Islamism in the western media. The first photo dates back to his appearance in 2007 at a rally in Srinigar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. Several other photos in other media outlets followed, and by November 2007, there were over one million hits for "Islamic Rage Boy" on Google and his face appeared on boxer shorts and bumper stickers.
- Little Fatty – Starting in 2003, the face of a student from Shanghai was superimposed onto various other images.
- LOLcat – A collection of funny image macros featuring cats with misspelled phrases, such as, "I Can Has Cheezburger?". The earliest versions of LOLcats appeared on 4chan, usually on Saturdays, which were designed, "caturday", as a day to post photos of cats.
- Oolong – Photos featured on a popular Japanese website of a rabbit that is famous for its ability to balance a variety of objects on its head.
- The Saugeen Stripper – A female student at the University of Western Ontario performed a striptease at a birthday party and dozens of digital images of the party ended up on the Internet.
- Tron Guy – A husky, 48-year-old computer consultant, Jay Maynard, designed a Tron costume, complete with skin-tight spandex and light-up plastic armor, in 2003 for Penguicon 1.0 in Detroit, Michigan. The internet phenomenon began when an article was posted to Slashdot, followed by Fark, including images of this costume.
- Dancing Banana – A banana dancing to the song "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" by the Buckwheat Boyz.
- "Canon Rock" – A rock arrangement of the Canon in D by JerryC which became famous when covered by funtwo and others.
- "Chocolate Rain" – A song and music video written and performed by Tay Zonday (also known as Adam Nyerere Bahner). After being posted on YouTube on April 22, 2007, the song quickly became a popular viral video. By December 2009, the video had received over 40 million views.
- Hampster Dance – A page filled with hamsters dancing, linking to other animated pages. It spawned a fictional band complete with its own CD album release.
- "Here It Goes Again" – Grammy-winning music video in which OK Go dance on treadmills.
- Hurra Torpedo – A Norwegian band whose coast-to-coast tour was a viral campaign to promote the Ford Fusion car.
- JK Wedding Entrance Dance – The wedding procession for Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz of St Paul, Minnesota, choreographed to the song Forever by Chris Brown. Popularized on YouTube with 1.75 million views in less than five days in 2009. The video was later imitated in an episode of The Office on NBC.
- Literal music video – Covers of music videos where the original lyrics have been replaced with ones that literally describe the events that occur in the video, typically disconnected with the original lyrics of the song.
- Little Superstar – A video of Thavakalai, a short Indian actor, break-dancing to MC Miker G & DJ Sven's remix of the Madonna song "Holiday", in a clip from a 1990 Tamil film Adhisaya Piravi, featuring actor Rajnikanth.
- Lucian Piane, aka RevoLucian – Created several popular celebrity techno remixes, including a spoof on actor Christian Bale titled "Bale Out"
- McDonald's rap – Two amateur MCs from Indiana who rapped their order into a McDonald's drive-through speaker
- Pants on the Ground – First sung by "General" Larry Platt during the season 9 auditions of American Idol in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 13, 2010. Within one week, the video was seen by approximately 5 million on Youtube, had over 1 million fans on Facebook, and was repeated on television by Jimmy Fallon and Brett Favre.
- Take U to da Movies - The official music video to a song by Sudanese/Australian rapper Bangs; has gotten him offers from several major labels and over 2 million views on his YouTube page.
- Techno Viking – A Nordic raver dancing in a procession in Berlin.
- "This Too Shall Pass" - A video by the band OK Go performing among the workings of a giant Rube Goldberg machine.
- Prison Thriller – A recreation of Michael Jackson's hit performed by prisoners Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) in the Philippines. As of January 2010, it is among the ten most popular videos on Youtube with over 20 million hits.
- "Twelve Days of Christmas" – By a cappella group Straight No Chaser went viral in 2007 and led to the group being signed by Atlantic Records.
- Dear Sister - a reference to a Saturday Night Live skit which has repeated shootings with the refrain from Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek" playing as each character dies in slow motion.
- Ekrem Jevrić, immigrant construction worker and cab driver from New York, in 2010 recorded video spot "Kuća poso" (House, work) on hard life of immigrants, which became an instant hit across former Yugoslavia.
- Freecycling – The exchange of unwanted goods via the internet.
- One red paperclip – The story of a Canadian blogger who bartered his way from a red paperclip to a house in a year's time.
- Secret London – a Facebook Group for trading information about the city’s secrets which attracted 150,000 members within 2 weeks and was crowdsourced into a website.
- Three Wolf Moon — A t-shirt with many ironic reviews on Amazon.
- The Annoying Orange – A series of comedy sketches featuring a talking orange annoying other fruits and vegetables, as well as some appliances, with his one-liners and puns.
- Ask a Ninja – Popular podcast featuring a ninja who answers viewers' questions.
- Badger Badger Badger – A hypnotic loop of animal calisthenics set to the chant of "badger, badger, badger", created by Jonti "Weebl" Picking.
- Benny Lava – A video created as a soramimi to Kalluri Vaanil by Indian artist Prabhu Deva.
- Boom goes the dynamite – Brian Collins, a nervous sports anchor, fumbles highlights, concluding with this infamous catch phrase. Popularly used in an episode of Family Guy among numerous other popular references, and made popular by Will Smith when he flubbed a line on stage during the 81st Academy Awards telecast. As of March 2009, Collins was a reporter for KXXV in Waco, Texas.
- Charlie Bit My Finger – It features two young brothers; the younger bites the finger of the older brother.
- Dancing Matt – Video game designer, Matt Harding, became famous in 2003 when he filmed himself dancing in front of various world landmarks. Eventually, a chewing gum company sent him off to dance on seven continents, and by October 2006, five million viewers have seen his videos.
- Diet Coke and Mentos – Geysers of carbonated drink mixed with Mentos.
- Don't Tase Me, Bro! – An incident at a campus talk by Senator John Kerry.
- Dramatic Chipmunk – Viral video featuring a prairie dog turning its head suddenly toward the camera, with a zoom-in on its face while suspense music is playing.
- Edgar's fall – A video in which a Mexican kid trying to cross a river over a branch, is thrown off by his cousin.
- Epic Beard Man – Video of a bus fight in Oakland, California in which 67-year-old Thomas Bruso beats up a younger black man after shouting obscenities at him. Within a week of the video's posting on YouTube, there were over 700,000 hits.
- Fred Figglehorn – Video series featuring a fictional six-year-old named Fred with "anger-management issues", who lives with his alcoholic mother and whose father is doing jail time. Fred is portrayed by 14-year-old actor, Lucas Cruikshank, and his YouTube channel had over 250,000 subscribers and was the fourth most subscribed channel in 2008.
- Hitler Rage Videos – A series of viral videos featuring a scene of Adolf Hitler ranting in German, from the 2004 movie Downfall. The original English subtitles have been removed and mock subtitles added to give the appearance that Hitler is ranting about a number of modern topics, such as the iPad, Facebook, why Chicago lost the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, or the US bailout, even the 2009 rift within Formula One. While the clips are frequently removed for copyright violations, the film's Director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, has stated that he enjoys them, and claims to have seen about 145 of them.
- I Like Turtles – A video news clip of 10-year-old Jonathon Ware at the Portland Rose Festival on May 31, 2007. His face was painted like a zombie, and his 17 second video was viewed more than 500,000 times by July 30.
- Jag har mensvärk! (Swedish for I have period pains!) – Nattliv quiz show hostess Eva Nazemson, suffering from menstruation-related nausea, vomits on-air while taking a call from a viewer. She later went on to discuss the incident on The Tyra Banks Show and The Graham Norton Show after the video was posted on YouTube. The original video received four million views by 2009.
- "Ken Lee" – Badly garbled song by Bulgarian Music Idol hopeful Valentina Hasan.
- Kersal Massive — Three young chavs, apparently from Kersal (near Manchester, UK), attempting to perform a gangsta rap and expressing their dislike for the nearby suburb of Levenshulme.
- Keyboard Cat – Footage of a cat playing an electric keyboard that is appended to the end of blooper or other video as if to play the participants off stage after a mistake or gaffe.
- The Last Lecture – Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch, dying of pancreatic cancer, delivers an upbeat lecture on Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.
- "Leave Britney Alone!" – A video posted on Youtube by Chris Crocker in response to the media's harsh treatment of Britney Spears. The video was seen by 8 million by September 2007 and saw many repeat versions and parodies.
- Lonelygirl15 – A popular viral video spread via Youtube featuring a sweet, charismatic, teenage girl named, "Bree", who would post video updates about a variety of issues dealing with the life of a typical teenager. It was later found to be a professionally made, fictional work, produced by Mesh Flinders in Beverly Hills and starring Jessica Lee Rose.
- Music Is My Hot Hot Sex – Used in advertising then reached the top of YouTube's most watched list, due perhaps to a hack.
- Obama Girl – A series of videos on Youtube featuring Amber Lee Ettinger that circulated during the 2008 US Presidential Election, starting with her singing, I Got a Crush... on Obama. It caught the attention of bloggers, mainstream media, other candidates, and achieved 12.5 million views on Youtube by January 1, 2009.
- Numa Numa – Gary Brolsma lip-syncs the Romanian song "Dragostea din tei" by O-Zone.
- The Peckham Terminator - A video filmed by two youths on August 1, 2010 of a man in his twenties screaming abuse at fellow passengers on the 37 bus at Rye Lane. The man uses racial abuse and tries to pick a fight with one passenger. The man finally smashes through the glass of the rear doors (after making a few attempts beforehand) and walks off unscathed. The youths filming the incident dub him the "Peckham Terminator", after the Arnold Schwarzenegger character.
- Puppy-throwing Marine viral video – A viral video from March 2008 of a US Marine stationed in Hawaii throwing a puppy off of a cliff. The video sparked outrage from numerous animal rights groups and was later removed from YouTube. The Marine was later identified as Lance Corporal David Motari, who was removed from the Marine Corps and received a non-judicial punishment. His accomplice, Sergeant Crismarvin Banez Encarnacion, received a non-judicial punishment as well.
- Rickrolling – A phenomenon involving posting a URL in an internet forum that appears to be relevant to the topic at hand, but is, in fact, a link to a video of Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. The practice originated on 4chan as a "Duckroll", in which an image of a duck on wheels was what was linked to. The practice of Rickrolling became popular after April Fools' Day in 2008 when Youtube rigged every feature video on its home page to Rick Astley's song.
- Scarface School Play - A viral Internet video of an elementary school play re-enactment of the final scene of the 1983 film Scarface, which achieved nearly 280,000 views on YouTube by March 30, 2010. The video was actually produced in Los Angeles by Marc Klasfeld, who has worked on other music video projects, including some by Lady Gaga.
- Star Wars Kid – A Québécois teenager who became known as the "Star Wars Kid" after a video appeared on the Internet showing him swinging a golf ball retriever as if it were a lightsaber. Many parodies of the video were also made and circulated.
- Trololo – A 1976 televised performance of Russian singer Eduard Khil lip-syncing the song I Am Glad To Finally Be Home (Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой). The video's first mainstream appearance was on The Colbert Report, on March 3, 2010; since then, its popularity has escalated, occasionally being used as part of a bait and switch prank, similar to Rickrolling.
- Tyson – Viral videos featuring a skateboarding bulldog.
- Very erotic very violent – An internet catchphrase in the People's Republic of China, after a report by Xinwen Lianbo, the most viewed of China's state-sponsored news programs, where a young girl was reported to have come across content on the internet which was "Very erotic, very violent". This incident sparked wide forms of parody on the internet, and also questioned the credibility of the state broadcaster's newscasts.
- We Are The World 25 for Haiti (YouTube Edition) is a massively collaborative charity video, involving 57 geographically distributed unsigned or independent contributors, that was produced by Canadian singer-songwriter and YouTube personality Lisa Lavie to raise money for victims of the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake. The video's participants were collectively named ABC News "Persons of the Week" on U.S. national television by television journalist Diane Sawyer in March 2010.
- What What (In the Butt) – A viral music video set to a song about anal sex by gay recording artist Samwell. The video was posted on Valentine's Day 2007, and two weeks later had already been viewed 500,000 times.
- Wii Fit Girl – A video entitled "Why every guy should buy their girlfriend a Wii Fit" showing 25-year-old Lauren Bernat hula hooping with the fitness video game in only her t-shirt and panties. The video was viewed more than 2.4 million times on YouTube by June 2008, and was suspected as being a viral marketing plot because both Bernat, and her boyfriend Giovanny Gutierrez, who filmed the footage, work in advertising. Nintendo has since denied the claim that it was a marketing plot.
- Winnebago Man – A series of profane video outtakes first circulated underground on VHS tape before YouTube turned him into an online sensation. The reclusive Rebney, age 80, is the subject of a new feature film, Winnebago Man, that will be released nationally in theaters, Summer 2010.