The most memorable memes of 2023 explained

2023 was an interesting year. 

Like in past years, memes helped millions of people relate through some of the most challenging aspects of the year. 

As many continue to reel from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless social media users were desperate to connect and relieve their stress by seeking humor in the topics that dominated news headlines week by week. 

Whether it was thinking about the Roman Empire, or something related to Pedro Pascal, the year did not disappoint when it came to viral internet humor. 

 Here is FOX TV Stations' list of the most memorable memes of 2023 in no particular order: 

Editor's note: If you're confused, don't try to understand it, just go with it.

The Kevin James shrug

It started as a promotional photo of actor Kevin James from the hit sitcom "King of Queens." The photo eventually spread across the internet like wildfire when it found new life in 2023 after X user @ChampagneAnyone used the image with the text, "me after 1 double rum and diet," according to the meme database Know Your Meme. 

After that viral post, social media users hopped on the fad and used the photo to express anything from flirtatious thoughts to exciting nostalgia. 

Even Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) took part, using the meme to respond to news that the Senate would enforce a dress code in response to his well-known attire at the time. 


In June, McDonald’s unveiled a limited-edition purple milkshake celebrating one of its beloved franchise characters, Grimace. 

Grimace is a purple character who debuted in commercials as "Evil Grimace," a bad guy who tried to steal McDonald’s shakes but was later rebranded as a good guy by the company, according to the Daily Meal.

Social media immediately reacted to the purple libation with exactly what you would expect. It became a meme. A dark one at that.

Of course, McDonald’s tried to join the meme bandwagon, but it came nowhere close to the depths of dark humor that soon arose at the expense of the purple, a seemingly lovable, fictional character many have grown up with.

RELATED: The Grimace shake won’t kill you: Why are people on TikTok pretending to die after drinking it?

Since the unveiling of the beverage, thousands of users on social media have posted videos of them enacting spine-chilling deaths and demonic possession caused by drinking the shake. 

All you have to do is search for "The Grimace Shake Incident," and you’ll find hundreds of videos, many of which have millions of views, showing users filming themselves trying the drink in what seems to be an innocent taste test video. 

But the videos quickly take a dark turn in which some people have gone so far as to show purple liquid oozing out of their noses before convulsing on the ground.

Some have posted found-footage style posts in which a harmless review of the Grimace shake quickly turns into a horror film in which murder and mayhem envelops the actors.

In one video, a user can be seen with the shake speaking into the camera, excitedly saying, "I just got the new grimace shake!"

The video promptly cuts to what appears to be the same man face down drowning in a river.

‘Ludicrously capacious bag’

Season 4 of "Succession" was the television moment of the year for most people, and it is only appropriate that an interaction from the season premiere would create one of the most memorable memes of the year. 

In the episode, Matthew Macfadyen's character Tom gives a scathing critique of a handbag carried by the date of cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun) to the patriarch Logan Roy's birthday party. 

Macfadyen's character points out that the bag is ridiculously sized and incredibly inappropriate for the event it was brought to. Of course, social media users took Tom's obnoxious vocabulary and attached it to any moment they could. 

One user referenced Mary Poppins magic carpet bag. "the OG ludicrously capacious bag," one user commented.

Even Merriam-Webster got in on the fun. 


How often do you think about the Roman Empire? 

Dubbed the "Roman Empire trend," girlfriends turned to TikTok to ask their partners how often they think of ancient civilization. 

The results were shocking, with videos suggesting some men actually think of the Roman Empire quite often.  

Videos of boyfriends, husbands, dads and brothers – some of whom have never even stepped foot in Europe – confessed that some of their deepest thinking goes to an ancient empire sent much of the world into bewilderment over the discovery of such an obessession. 

Even "Saturday Night Live" with a skit featuring actor Jason Mamoa confessing to his partner in a song about the Roman Empire. 

"Girl dinner" 

Men and women learned alot about eachother this year. 

"Girl Dinner" became a huge viral trend over the summer, taking over TikTok, 

turning a plate of random, no-cooking-required snacks into a hashtag with nearly 400 million views, spawning appreciation, jokes and genuine concern.

Fundamentally, a girl dinner is exactly as it sounds: Watever a girl wants for dinner.

Olivia Maher is the micro-creator that started the trend.

"I was chatting with another girlfriend and we were discussing what we were going to have for dinner that night, and I was like, oh, well, my boyfriend's not home. I'm just going to kind of have a girl dinner is what I call it," Maher said. "I just kind of picture the fridge...I had some wine leftover, I had some grapes. Oh, here's that salami and cheese and some bread leftover… I’ve got to get rid of it before it goes bad."

Even fast-food chain Popeyes got in on the act, introducing a 'girl dinner' option consisting only of sides. 

Who's that wonderful girl?

Girls had their moment in 2023. 

A viral clip from "Nanalan," a Canadian children's show resurfaced on the internet in which social media users used it to spread positive affirmations for their girlfriends, daughters, sisters and more. 

The video takes a clip from "Nanalan," in which the puppet grandmother sings "Who's That Wonderful Girl," as her granddaughter Mona enters the living room wearing a princess costume. 

The scene was transformed into a relatable way for people to either feel praised or patronized for doing fairly arbitrary things. 

Pedro Pascal eating a sandwich

There's really nothing to this one. It's literally just the actor Pedro Pascal eating a sandwich, which evoked feelings of apathy and indifference.