The Best Memes of 2022 (So Far)

Though 2021 was a fine vintage for memes – the Handforth Parish Council meeting, Bernie and his mittens, sea shanty TikTok, the tanker that broke the Suez Canal – 2022 has started with the kind of giddy, fast-paced memeing only the third year of a pandemic and simmering resentment of everyone in charge can provide.

What should meme futures speculators invest in this year? The joy of the best memes, of course, is that they always take you by surprise – nobody could have foreseen Bean Dad or Rishi Sunak admitting to a child that he was a “coke addict” – but there are a few flashpoints that savvy meme brokers will be building portfolios around.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in the summer will be a unique celebration of a monarch’s longevity, and a unique four-day bender from Thursday to Sunday in early June. With so much pomp, ceremony and late licenses come ample crossover memes. The World Cup in Qatar looks like it’ll bring solid returns too, as will the return of Glastonbury after three years away.

These, though, are the best memes of 2022 we’ve seen so far.

Normal men, innocent men

It’s not often a puppet dog brings Twitter together, but CBBC’s Hacker T Dog managed it when a clip of him making his co-host Lauren Layfield corpse on air back in 2016 resurfaced.

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It’s Vic and Bob for the under-12s. Despite a story doing the rounds that it’s based on something a mate of Hacker’s puppeteer said on a night out to some police officers, it was apparently just an off the cuff thing. Obviously, it’s been remixed.

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Expect it to become the go-to quote-tweet response to any man displaying mildly weird behavior in his day to day life.

Will Smith, Chris Rock, etc

It’s obviously old news now and, frankly, the discourse around slapgate is a rather played out. Was it funny? Or a disturbing? Both? Neither? The further we get from it, the harder it is to say.


The memes were plenty, and many were actually far worse than either pearl-clutching or the attempts to exculpate Will Smith’s assault on Chris Rock. People seemed to really, really love the fact that a man had lost it and slapped another man in possibly the most public forum possible. But there were also some absolute pearls in there too. So let’s enjoy them, then put them away.

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Even West Ham’s Michail Antonio got in on it.

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And then, of course, there was the moment we could all enjoy without feeling at all icky about it: former One Direction man Liam Payne stumbling through a Good Morning Britain interview at god knows what hour of the morning at Elton John’s Oscars do in LA , and bumping into several accents on his way along the red carpet.

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He later explained that he was a bit tipsy.

“To tell you the truth, I was staying in a house with two German people, three people from Texas, one person from Liverpool and me,” he said on an Instagram Live. “It sounded like one of those jokes people say about an Irishman and an Englishman walk into a pub – and that’s what came out.”

Queen Elizabeth II is dead

…that’s right, dead excited about going to Itchy and Scratchy Land!

If you missed this one, it’s going to need some explaining. On 22 February, the gossip site Hollywood Unlocked posted an image of the Queen on Instagram.

“Sources close to the Royal kingdom [sic] notified us exclusively that #Queen Elizabeth has passed away,” read the caption. “She was scheduled to attend the wedding of British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, but was found dead. Story developing.”

There followed a praying hands emoji and a heart emoji. Now, it was immediately obvious to anyone with a passing knowledge of how the Royal Family does its business that this was roughly as likely as the Queen going down in a hail of police gunfire after a botched bank heist.

However Jason Lee, the founder and CEO of Hollywood Unlocked and the man apparently most certain that the Queen was dead, was not in a mood to back down.

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Lee insisted that despite his fundamental misunderstanding of what the Queen is – he seemed under the impression that she popped up at celeb weddings all the time, as if she’s got an ITV2 show to plug – he was in fact right. After a solid 24 hours of barracing, he came out fighting.

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In a way it was kind of heroic to see someone backing a take this titanically wrong.

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Lee was still not finished. On 25 February he tweeted out a story on the Hollywood Unlocked site, saying: “Here’s our update on the Queen Elizabeth story.”

With the most incredible brass neck, it was titled: “Fact Check: 10 Reasons We Believed Queen Elizabeth Was Dead.” The piece was full of gold. Lee was apparently contacted by “a high-profile attendee” at the Enninful wedding who’d overheard someone else getting upset on the phone about someone, possibly the Queen, having died.

“While many have scoffed at the idea that the Queen or anyone associated with her would ever attend Enninful’s wedding, not only is he fashion royalty in the UK, a quick Google image search easily pulls up pictures of him sharing intimate moments with members of the royal family,” read one section. These ‘intimate moments’ include Camilla sitting next to Enninful at a London Fashion Week show Charles meeting him at a Princes Trust do. Doesn’t get much more inner circle.

Lee added his view: “I can say my sources got this wrong and I sincerely apologise to The Queen and the Royal Family.” First rule of journalism: throw your sources under the bus.

So what happened? Popbitch, the connoisseur’s gossip site and email, proposed one possible explanation. The Queen, obviously, wasn’t meant to be at Enninful’s wedding — but on that same evening it was announced that Mark Lanegan had died.

Mark Lanegan, the former singer in Queens of the Stone Age.

Big Jet TV

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As Storm Eunice kicked up and put most of the UK under a weather warning for wind, the general unease was lightened by the sterling work of Big Jet TV founder and presenter Jerry Dyer.

After livestreaming landings at major airports since 2016, Eunice was the breakout moment for Big Jet TV. More than 200,000 people watched as planes from all over the world jagged in toward the Heathrow runway, fighting against winds up to 70mph. It helped that it was a Friday, but it was gripping stuff. Bush.

The vibe shift

A piece in New York magazine warned us that a trend forecaster had forecast a fundamental shift in what’s cool and what isn’t, and of the attitudes which will govern the next epoch of pop culture. The vibe shift was coming.

Quite what a vibe shift is and how it’s different from ‘getting older’ remains slightly unclear. But then maybe that’s just the vibe shift.

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I believed it was a work event

The rolling boil of scandal and revelations from Downing Street finally bubbled over properly in mid-January with a triple-whammy of apparently and thunderingly dumb attempts to justify very not cool events.

To bring you up to speed: a picture emerged in the early days of January which showed Boris Johnson, his wife Carrie and around 20 other people hanging out in the garden at 10 Downing Street in May 2020. As you might recall, hanging out with glasses of wine in a mate’s garden was punishable by fines at the time. Johnson apologised in the Commons (well, kind of), and said that he knew the rules, obvs, but that he “believed implicitly that this was a work event”. This was not quite the slam dunk he perhaps hoped it would be.

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It was also rather generald by an email from his permanent private secretary encouraging attendees to bring their own booze. And now we’re up to about 15 separate gatherings/parties/funky Fridays with a suitcase of Co-Op wine, and an internal investigation which has become its own meme, and a police inquiry.

And then it turned out that the interior designer Luly Lytle – who was at the center of another, apparently unrelated scandal about exactly how a refurb of 10 Downing Street was funded – was there at yet another party, this time for Johnson’s 56th birthday. Yep, that would also have been against the rules.

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It’s been a hell of a couple of years for Johnson. Imagine returning an 80-seat majority and then fucking things so utterly that you’re getting bantered off by Ipswich Town.

memes 2022

The crypto crash

Look, I’m not going to tell you that we truly understand any of what happened in late January, when a wobble in the cryptosphere turned into a full-on meltdown.

There were a lot of memes. This was one of them. That’s all we really know.

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At a loose end after Christmas, the world was taken over by a simple word game with no ads, no in-app purchases and no ulterior motive.

Suddenly, everyone’s Twitter feed was overtaken by matrixes of green blocks as people shared how they’d got on with the day’s puzzle, and then by people screenshotting the fact they were blocking any mention of Wordle.

Wordle was in meme territory.

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Hey, buddy. You like Wordle?

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Molly Mae Rand

The first major political storm of the year arrived before most of us had chucked the Christmas tree into the woodchipper.

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Molly-Mae Hague went on the Diary of a CEO podcast and said: “You’re given one life and it’s down to you what you do with it. When I’ve spoken about that in the past, I have been slammed a little bit, with people saying, ‘It’s grown easy for you to say that, you’ve not grown up in poverty, you’ve not grown up with major money struggles, so for you to sit there and say that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s not correct.’

“And I’m like, but technically what I’m saying is correct. We do – so I understand that we all have different backgrounds and we’re all raised in different ways and we do have different financial situations, but I do think if you want something enough, you can achieve it.”

Within a few hours, her Wikipedia entry had been amended so that her surname was Thatcher, and “best known for being the runner-up of the fifth series of Love Islandand for having worked harder than anyone less successful than her.”

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There are a lot of complex things tangling here. Yes, she’s spouted a load of bollocks there. A stint on Love Island is a handy leg-up into a £500,000 creative director gig with a major fast fashion retailer.

At the same time, this kind of hustle culture, rise-and-grind, millionaire mindset gibberish also comes out of a lot of blokes’ mouths and nobody goes after them. Granted, very few of them have £500,000 creative director gigs with major fast fashion retailers, but the inane ‘just work harder you idiot’ apparently fantasy isn’t as worthy of ridicule when its slogans are posted with a picture of Jeff Bezos.

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