If you don't have a team to root for, or even a reason to like football, going to Super Bowl parties can be as miserable as being a Cleveland Browns fan. Thankfully, the Internet usually jumps into the fray to pull out a gem or two as meme fodder. Here's a look back at some of the most memorable.
Last year, singer Katy Perry's ridiculously entertaining Super Bowl halftime show created several popular memes, but none was more famous than her cartilaginous backup dancer, who got most of the attention because he seemed to be doing his own thing.
The other animal at Katy Perry's halftime show that gained unexpected attention was considerably bigger than Left Shark. It also looked like something the crew stole from the set of the inevitable remake of "Logan's Run."
Perry rode a massive feline into the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, while singing her chart topper (what else?) "Roar." However, the Internet wasn't exactly sure if the animal was a lion, a tiger or some hideous mutation of the two. (I would have called it a "tion.") According to The Washington Post, a Twitter debate about the statue's species erupted during the show and another meme was born.
A story that appeared on Sports Illustrated's Extra Mustard blog in March 2015 featured an interview with the artists who designed and built the float, and they confirmed it was a lion. That should have ended the debate, but the memes continued to roll in, much to the chagrin of Detroit Lions fans, who couldn't escape all the jokes about how this was the only time a "Lion" would appear at the Super Bowl.
In 1985, the Internet might not have been accessible to people without computer science doctorates, but those who would help build its most revered icons of mockery held on to the memory of this '80s rap anthem long enough to make it even more famous on the Web.
The Chicago Bears went to Super Bowl XX at the end of their stellar '85-'86 season, when they beat the New England Patriots to take home their first and only Lombardi trophy. Bears wide receiver Willie Gault got the bright idea to do a rap song before the big game to celebrate the team's season and raise money for a good cause. The song not only did that, it also became a certified hit, going platinum and even grabbing a Grammy nomination for best rhythm and blues performance by a group (it lost to Prince's "Kiss").
When the music video found its way to YouTube, parodies starting popping up, like the "Super Broker Shuffle" used to promote the Southern Food Brokerage Corporation. Another send-up starred members of the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew, including head coach Mike Ditka, in a new, commercial version on Funny or Die called "The Boost Mobile Shuffle." The Comedy Central sketch-show "Key & Peele," which became a hit due in part to its massive presence on YouTube, even spoofed the one-hit wonder using the ludicrously named players from their "East-West Bowl" series.
/ Photo: EBaumsWorld video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET
The Left Shark
Katy Perry's lion, er, tiger...No wait, lion.
The Super Bowl shuffle
Isaiah 'The Old Spice Guy' Mustafa
Wrong lyrics, Christina
Sad Richard Sherman
Seahawks' coach Pete Carroll
Super Bowl blackout
This breakfast creation looks like Cthulhu if he were part of a complete breakfast, but it was actually created for a short but effective Super Bowl commercial.
Diner chain Denny's bought time for its first Super Bowl ad to run during Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. The advertising agency Denny's hired came up with a 15-second ad that opened with the goofy breakfast creation before a title card crushed him and the voice of Burt Reynolds asked, "Isn't it about time for a serious breakfast?"
The goal may have been to get people to pay attention to the second half of the commercial, but the Internet glommed on to the first half. The term Nannerpuss earned an official entry in the Urban Dictionary. The character also became the focus of a Facebook page, which scored a bunch of followers when the 'puss became a candidate for the 2012 presidential election. A knit version of Nannerpuss also went viral after popping up on a Craftster forum.
Old Spice practically reinvented its image with its 2010 Super Bowl ad. The spot featured a shirtless Isaiah Mustafa as some kind of magical being who could alter time and space, changing clams into diamonds and suddenly appearing on a horse.
The ad became a viral hit, and Mustafa became a meme, thanks to lines like "Look at your man, now back at me" and "I'm on a horse." Meme makers co-opted the lines for their various causes and critiques. The ad also became the target of video parodies by YouTube users and shows like "Sesame Street" that featured a version with lovable, furry old Grover teaching impressionable viewers about proper use of the preposition "on."
The Internet loves taking celebrities down a peg or two. Beyonce found herself in the spotlight for the wrong reason when she became a meme during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.
She and her former Destiny's Child bandmates reunited for the halftime show, and the cameras caught her making an unflattering face that looked like she got a big, juicy taste of sweaty gym sock. Memes started popping up featuring Beyonce's unconventional mug Photoshopped onto images of Sylvester Stallone's Rambo and actor Michael Ironside on the movie poster for "Scanners." One enterprising Photoshopper used the image to turn Beyonce into Dr. Zoidberg from "Futurama." It only got worse (or better, depending on your point of view) when Beyonce's publicist pulled a total Kanye by trying to remove the unflattering images of her client from the Internet.
If you become a national pop sensation and you're asked to sing the national anthem where cameras are present, make sure you know the lyrics backward and forward, or the Internet will make you wish you did. Singer Christina Aguilera learned that lesson in 2011 when she messed up some of the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the start of Super Bowl XLV.
She later apologized for her mistake, but the Internet used the moment to celebrate every misheard lyric in pop song history with a series of memes dubbed "Wrong Lyrics Christina." The memes featured a head shot of the "Genie in a Bottle" singer on a pink background in midnote as she twisted the lyrics of songs like Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" into "Hold me closer, Tony Danza" and Rihanna's "Only Girl" into "Want to make you feel, like I'm the only squirrel in the world."
Seattle Seahawks' all-star cornerback Richard Sherman achieved Internet infamy in 2014 when he went off on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree in a postgame interview with Fox's Erin Andrews. Even though the Seahawks went on to win Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, Sherman's infamous trash talking became a meme and Sherman critics were squirming in their Starters to get another chance to use Photoshop to stick it to him.
They got their chance the following year when the Seahawks lost Super Bowl XLIX to the New England Patriots and cameras captured Sherman's shocked face when he witnessed the Pats' Malcolm Butler intercept a pass on the 1-yard line that ended Seattle's chances of achieving back-to-back NFL championships. Meme makers didn't just use Sherman's look of pure, unflinching horror to throw some of Sherman's trash talking back in his horrified face. They also used the moment to express their displeasure over other minor inconveniences such as being charged extra for using guacamole as a topping at restaurants.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman may have gotten ribbed following the team's Super Bowl loss in 2015, but head coach Pete Carroll received two extra scoops of meme hate.
Carroll became a prime meme target on account of his bewildering decision, with only four points keeping his team from a Super Bowl win, to pass the ball at the goal line instead of running it in. The Internet lambasted Carroll with memes featuring his smiling mug behind captions like "Second and goal?/YOLO" and "Superbowl win/Nah, I'll pass."
A photo later surfaced of the coach serving as a guest barista at a Seattle Starbucks as part of a benefit for his charity A Better Seattle. Pretty much all of the subsequent riffs ran with the same joke about whether he should hand the coffee to customers or "step back five yards and throw it for no reason."
Super Bowl XLVII, in 2013, had a bit of an interruption that would have been hard for anyone to pardon. The game took place at the Superdome in New Orleans. At the 1:38 mark of the third quarter, a transformer blew out, causing the entire west side of the stadium to go dark and stay that way for more than 30 minutes, according to an in-depth feature by Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop.
Everyone watching at home also witnessed the midgame blackout, and people ran to their computers to turn the city's most embarrassing moment in sports history (if you don't count the New Orleans Saints' dismal 1980 season) into meme gold.
Some memes juxtaposed the blackout with famous movie scenes, like Clark Griswold trying to light his Christmas display in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" or Johnny from "Airplane!" pulling out the plug to the runway lights just before looking to the camera and remarking "just kidding." Others simply featured pictures of pure black with the caption "Super Bowl XLVII."