Memes Had a Great Year. Relive the Best Ones of 2022

Who exactly was sharing these viral memes and jokes? It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
4 min read
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock on stage at the 2022 Academy Awards

Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars and viewers hit the memes. 

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Presidential photo ops, TV shows, sporting events, celebs at awards shows... if something wacky happens, it's likely to get memed before. It's possible meme delivery may change in the near future, as Twitter, a favorite birthplace of memes, is changing daily under new owner Elon Musk. But you can't keep a good meme down. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and other sites surely will pick up the slack if Twitter teeters on meme duty. (CNET's Mark Serrels admits it: He just does not get the way the youngsters use memes.)

Here's a look at some of the best and funniest news-related memes of 2022. 

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock

The Academy Awards went off the rails in March when Will Smith marched on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock, who cracked a joke about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The photo of the slap was memed, of course, and viewers made snarky jokes about the lack of Oscars security reaction and how utterly bizarre the event was.

"I hope everyone has enjoyed the last Oscars ever," cracked writer Dave Itzkoff.

Tom Brady un-retires

NFL quarterback Tom Brady retired, then un-retired in 2022. He's always been a favorite meme topic (puffy coat forever), and his return to football only added to his meme legacy. Even other teams got in on things. The New York Jets replied to their own tweet of Feb. 1, when they wrote, "(Brady's retirement) better be real," updating it with "guess not."

Fake Spirit Halloween costumes

In October, Halloween costume ideas are everywhere. This year, memesters got hold of an image of a Spirit Halloween costume package and edited it in all sorts of hilarious ways. Kinda wish some of these were real, actually. One person created the "scariest costume ever," a 30-minute phone call.

Liz Truss and the lettuce

It's not often a British political meme crosses the pond to the US, but when former British Prime Minister Liz Truss lasted only 44 days in office before resigning, even Yanks took notice. British tabloid The Daily Star set up a live feed of a head of lettuce to see if the lettuce could outlast Truss' time in office. Spoiler: The lettuce won. The memes were pretty fresh.

"As a Yank, my thoughts are twofold," one American wrote. "1. Solidarity to my friends across the pond in this time of tumultuous change. 2. lol. lmao."

'Corn Kid'

In August, a kid named Tariq gave an enthusiastic interview about his love for corn, and the memes started popping. Why? Because "it's CORN! A big lump with knobs." Even Kevin Bacon couldn't resist singing about it.

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It's me, Taylor Swift

In October, Taylor Swift released Anti-Hero, the lead single from her new album, Midnights. One self-deprecating line especially took off with listeners. Swift sings, "It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me." Somehow, those lyrics perfectly fit over photos and videos from a variety of situations. One snarked about the Denver Broncos struggling new quarterback Russell Wilson, writing, "Russell Wilson's new motto should be, "It's me, hi. I'm the problem, it's me."

World Cup memes

The World Cup was extra controversial this year, thanks to its Qatar location. Some of the memes were very game- or athlete-specific. But some of the funniest ones involved the quarter-final England-France game (won by France). One photo showed soldiers in Napoleonic uniforms, prepping for battle.

Marie Callender's torched pie

Last Thanksgiving, a woman named Sharon Weiss burned a pumpkin pie. This would've remained a private little goof, except Weiss angrily posted about it to the Marie Callendar's Facebook page, blaming the company. Turns out that it was user error after all -- Weiss told me that her oven was accidentally bumped from Fahrenheit to Celsius, meaning it was essentially torching the pie. She also updated me this year, her granddaughter would be handling the pie-baking.

Weiss' burnt pie happened in 2021, but the majority of the memes flowed out in 2022, and they just may keep rising up every Thanksgiving going forward. Remember, it's Fahrenheit, not Sharonheit.

One person created a stack ranking of steak doneness, with Sharon's pie at the very well-done end.

Wordle forever

"Wordle" should be the word of the year for 2022. Software engineer Josh Wardle made the word-guessing game public in 2021, and The New York Times bought it for a whopping seven figures in January 2022. I'm among the many people who've been playing it daily since (here are my tips from a year of playing). The memes are almost as much fun as the game itself. Some of them just toss the now-familiar Wordle grid into famous images, like a screen shot from The Big Lebowski.

Spotify Wrapped wraps it up

The last few years have ended with music streaming site Spotify delivering its Spotify Wrapped roundup to frequent users. Some were embarrassed by what the roundup revealed about their musical tastes, while others were braggy.

"I think Spotify Wrapped this year should have a category for 'songs you obsessively looped for a week and then never touched again,'" one person wrote.

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