While the evolution of Tumblr has helped spread GIF culture across the globe, the snippet of animated glory has been around for quite sometime. 25 years in fact — today! Compuserve originally introduced the GIF back in 1987 as an alternative to the sizable JPG. Now, it’s taken on a whole new purpose (and not just to fill Geocities-built Pokemon fan pages with dancing Pikachus). To help understand the world of GIFs, we consulted Amanda Brennan, Internet Librarian at KnowYourMeme.com:
“With high-speed internet and social media they’ve become something that’s easy to consume. Why respond with a text comment when you have the perfect reaction GIF from your favorite TV show or movie? Also who doesn’t want to watch a kitten roll around or a puppy try to walk up stairs? In a world where we might not have time to sit and watch a whole video, a GIF is the best way to share that moment and the feeling it evokes.”
A picture says a thousand words. An animated GIF multiplies it. To pay homage to the wonders of GIF culture, we took a look back at some of the greatest pop culture-inspired GIFs of all time. Prepare to lose yourself in a Möbius strip of awesomeness:
There are many great GIFs, but this Ron Swanson GIF is the only one you will ever need.
Feeling a little insane? These two are crazier.
Drive home the point of Internet’s favorite phrase, “Deal with It,” courtesy of David Caruso.
Nicolas Cage movies are made for GIFs. Exhibit A: This Wicker Man one, in which he removes a bear-costume mask and delivers a right-hook TKO to a woman who’s guilty of standing.
What’s better than watching Carlton perform the Carlton Dance in an outrageous sweater? The answer is simple: nothing!
Some GIFs are like movies of themselves. Wouldn’t Lord of the Rings been a thousand times better with this scene?
Some GIFs have deeper meanings. Stare at this for awhile and reach the higher plane of thinking that was always there in front of your eyes, every time you watched Golden Girls.
Talk about the GIF that keeps on GIF-ing. Here’s a moment we don’t recall that well from The Daily Show:
Because Andrew Garfield is a Muppet. And Muppet is the highest compliment ever.
Pauly D reveals his superpower.
Good lord I just love how the Sherri Shepherd says HAM!Queen of Jordan spin-off, please.
All 25 of these could have been Paul Rudd dancing. We’re kind of sorry they’re not now.
We’re not done yet!