What happens when everyone’s favorite childhood anime meets the meme creators of the 21st century? You get the surprised Pikachu meme: an image of the world’s most beloved Pokémon with his mouth agape in a state of constant surprise.
The majority of the memes generated using this surprised Pikachu are designed with captions that have predictable outcomes but still leave you in a state of surprise. So how did this meme become a trend and how popular is it now?
Origin & Spread
Surprised Pikachu surfaced in late 2018 – the shot was taken from episode 10 of season 1 of the series. It initially came up on Tumblr and picked up over 220,000 notes. It started spreading all over Facebook, picking up thousands of likes and being shared a few thousand times.
During this stage, the image remained the same, but the captions became more diverse and creative, all with the common theme or experiencing shock at an expected outcome. A popular one referred to staring at the computer screen for 8 hours straight – this was followed by a blurred image of the same Pikachu face.
The memes related to everyday things to iconic moments from popular TV shows like Game of Thrones.
The Surprised Pikachu Twitter Conspiracy
In March 2019, Twitter placed the original Pikachu surprised face under the category of gratuitous gore, and anyone who tweeted it would find their account locked. While this ban was later lifted, many users wondered how this innocent anime character managed to fit into this category designed to contain items that were too graphic or depicted violence, death, and so on.
On Google Trends’ scale of 100 points, at its inception, the surprised Pikachu memes had a popularity rating of 100. Overtime, its popularity has fluctuated, but till now, it has a score of over 50 and is a meme that still surface on social media because most users find that it fits into various circumstances.
The meme is used to show sarcasm and often, it may be used as a response or a GIF to posts, messages, and comments.
This meme showing fake surprise was a contender to be the number 1 meme in 2018 and users continue to use it in 2020. In fact, some users have gone as far as to find similar images from other versions of Pokémon, such as the live action remake of the series.
While it’s not as viral as it was when it first surfaced on Tumblr, the surprised Pikachu meme is definitely a contender for some of the most popular memes of all time.
The meme has been picked up by different nations such as the United States, Singapore, and more and the memes are customized to fit different cultural quirks and languages, always with the same sarcastic shocked Pikachu at the heart of it.
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