Greetings fellow GIF lovers. It’s that time of year again where we share what’s been the driving sentiment behind how people express themselves via GIPHY’s content. While you can still expect to see the top GIFs of the year — per the usual — we do have a couple new changes to the way we are doing things this Year in Review.
What’s New in 2021
To start, we are introducing GIPHY Clips to the list! ICYMI, Clips is GIPHY’s new video product and this year we’ve seen so many incredible ways that partners, artists, and creators (such as through our new GIPHY Studios’ Creators Club) have used this format to incorporate sound into short-form content. We know what you’re probably thinking… but why video? Why mess with sound when GIFs already work? Are you all ok? Yes, we’re ok (we think) and simply put, video was the next natural evolution of GIPHY’s content formats. We love seeing how people communicate with GIFs and the life it brings to everyday conversations, but were hard-pressed to find a video equivalent that is as shareable as GIFs. So we created our own! GIPHY Clips are purposefully designed to be short, snappy, and super sendable wherever you’re chatting. Keep scrolling to see the Top Clips of 2021.
Additionally, since the primary goal of this list is to highlight the cultural trends on GIPHY unique to 2021, we took a bit of a different approach to our Top Content of the Year. While still first and foremost metrics-driven, we put an extra emphasis on curating the list to showcase outliers from daily evergreen searches. This allowed us to focus on content that derived its popularity from cultural and emotional spikes vs often-trending search terms (GIPHY users’ demand for “Happy Birthday” and “Good Morning” GIFs knows no bounds!). By doing this, we know we are providing insights that truly speak to the evolving mood of our users over the past year.
What Does It All Mean?
This year’s lists are packed with the pop culture moments, emotions, and reactions that fueled users’ search behavior on GIPHY. Even though The Office premiered almost 17 years ago, the show has maintained a grip on Internet culture. Between podcasts like Office Ladies or Brian Baumgartner’s success on Cameo, it’s evident that people’s nostalgia for The Office is going strong. GIPHY users clearly share the sentimental love for the NBC show as not only was a frustrated Stanley our top GIF of the year, but The Office’s new GIPHY channel was also the most popular channel of the year! (Nostalgia wasn’t the only factor at play though, as GIPHY users also responded to content from newer shows like Netflix’s fan favorite Bridgerton and Disney+’s extremely meme-worthy WandaVision.)
Meanwhile, The Office also made a strong showing on our top Clips list, but couldn’t quite beat Drew Barrymore’s extremely charming cake jiggle. Could it be that when audio enters into the mix, nostalgia is no match for a very funny, very silly sound effect? Well, either way, actually hearing Jim’s classic “It is your birthday” line reading was a strong second place. And since Clips is such a new format, it makes sense that all-time favorites are joined by new GIPHY partners like FaZe Clan, Apex for Youth, and Dorian Electra.
So Who Made the Lists?
All that being said, we wouldn’t have this content without our incredible partners and artists who make GIPHY the interesting and animated place it is today. Here are the Top Partner and Artist Channels of the Year:
- Top Partner Channels of 2021: The Office channel stole the show as the most-viewed partner channel of the year (cue champagne celebration here). The Office’s original broadcaster NBC also made the list alongside late night comedy favorite, SNL. Top partner channels also included several advocacy groups (all driven by the agency, Taskforce — Into Action, Hello All, Creative Courage), sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB), and streaming services (Netflix, Disney+). We also saw Kim Kardashian come in as what we have now dubbed the “Personality of the Year,” having been the only personality/individual channel to seize a top spot on the list!
- Top Artist Channels of 2021: Congrats to Ai and Aiko by Peter Draw who was the most-viewed artist channel of the year! Not far behind were several other incredible artists who have all continued to contribute incredibly timely and moving content to GIPHY, including: Muffin and Nuts, Nora Fikse, Britt Does Design, Katharine Kow, Jinzahn, Ruppert Tellac, Studio Neuhaus, Megan Motown, and Sarah the Palmer (see some of these artists’ works captured in our book, Frame by Frame).
And now, presenting the Top GIFs and Clips of 2021… Enjoy!
Top GIFs of 2021
The Office continues to be the GIF-t that keeps on giving! The characters’ cuttingly funny expressions make for fantastic GIFs and this moment of a bored Stanley Hudson in season 5 is no exception. Peacock launched The Office library channel this calendar year and it quickly became one of the fastest-growing channels in GIPHY’s history. Fans of the show love sharing official GIFs of their favorite characters and moments, but the best part about this content is that it has universal appeal. You don’t have to be familiar with the show or the character of Stanley to have felt a connection to this GIF in 2021. Many people are still spending days jumping from one Zoom meeting to the next so the feeling of boredom or monotony is highly relatable. This top GIF shows us the enormous cultural cachet that The Office has while also showcasing a little bit of the mindset we were in this year.
Between continued COVID-19 stress and work-from-home burnout, it makes sense that users may have felt particularly tired in 2021 and this moment from the classic cartoon Tom and Jerry encapsulates everything about our new normal this year. It’s also a prime example of how what’s old can become new again in the age of visual expression.
Sometimes a GIF can represent a spectrum of emotions and this is one of them. This moment from Bake Off: The Professionals features fan favorite and former-contestant-turned-host, Liam Charles, in a moment of shock and surprise that clearly resonated with users both inside and outside of The Great British Bakeoff’s fandom. We lived through dozens of moments that took our collective breath away this year, ranging from that jaw-dropping Mare of Eastown conclusion, to the rollercoaster of the Suez Canal obstruction, to Simone Biles’ triumphant return to the gymnastics competition during the Tokyo Olympics. Needless to say, we aren’t surprised that a GIF depicting astonishment should make this list in 2021.
Everyone’s favorite Pokémon character looks positively miserable here — maybe he’d be cheered up to learn that he landed at #4 on our list! Feelings of depression or isolation are pervasive during an event like the current global pandemic, so we see why users may have gravitated towards a bummed-out Pikachu. However, we find it notable that while some of our top GIFs all depict somewhat sad or bored emotions, they’re also all from feel-good TV shows. Perhaps when people are down in the dumps they turn to their favorite comfort shows to express how they’re feeling.
This moment from WandaVision shows actress Kathyrn Hahn giving a sarcastic, over-the-top wink and “Agnes Winking” quickly became the Internet’s new favorite meme. As one of the biggest Internet sensations of the year, we were not at all surprised to see this land on our list.
We can confidently conclude that users love two things: birthdays and Peppa Pig. The combination of the two forms a joyous little GIF that lands a spot on this list! The popularity of the character Peppa Pig has grown exponentially in recent years as has the demand for foreign language content on GIPHY. We are constantly working to grow our library of international content and are thrilled that this Spanish birthday wish was used and shared so much by users in 2021.
The Weeknd’s performance at the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show was a standout moment from this year. While there were many memorable parts of the show, The Weeknd singing “I Can’t Feel My Face” while making his way through an illuminated maze of mirrors quickly caught everyone’s attention and went viral. Goes to show the impact of a great performance and how easily it can be translated into the language of GIFs.
Bridgerton dropped on Netflix on Christmas Day of 2020 and the world forever changed. By early 2021, audiences were downright obsessed with this romantic drama so it’s only fitting that the show would be represented on our list. Plus, this GIF of Daphne Bridgerton is the perfect reaction for those situations where you know you shouldn’t be laughing, but you simply can’t help it.
People turn to GIPHY again and again to express happiness, and has there ever been a cuter representation of happiness than this GIF? The artist “foodieg” is to thank for creating this cheerful GIF character and we’re so glad to see that it was beloved by users.
From the moment The Mandalorian premiered on Disney+, users began searching for “Baby Yoda’’ on GIPHY. This GIF of Baby Yoda, also known as Grogu, is especially adored by fans. It’s perfect for expressing excitement for the weekend, for an upcoming party, or for anything that brings you joy!
Top Clips of 2021
We’re overjoyed that this Clip from The Drew Barrymore Show snagged the top spot because it’s a perfect example of how audio can hugely enhance a visual format. Drew Barrymore jiggling a cake and making a silly facial expression is funny on its own, but the addition of actually hearing her making such a goofy sound on top of it is really the icing on the cake (pun completely intended).
Sometimes users want to earnestly wish someone a happy birthday. However, sometimes the intention can be a sarcastic birthday greeting and nothing fits the bill better than the “It Is Your Birthday” scene from The Office. Fans of the show return to this scene of Dwight’s attempt at throwing a professional office birthday party time and time again, so we aren’t surprised that it was one of the most popular Clips in 2021.
We are so delighted that this “Happy Pride” Clip is on the list. GLAAD created this Clip to celebrate Pride Month in June and it immediately took off. Between the rainbow of colors and the upbeat, celebratory music, we are fully expecting this one to see a spike in shares every single June.
There is something so beautiful about this Clip by artist Jason Clarke — the cute butterfly kisses, the soothing nature sounds, the crayola colors. It’s a sweet way of expressing romantic love or even just love between friends, so it’s no surprise that it was a favorite Clip among users in 2021.
The nonprofit organization Apex for Youth created this Clip, which we knew would be a particularly popular one. People are always turning to GIPHY to send congratulatory messages and a Clip of a raised glass and the words “Cheers!” does just that.
This beautiful Clip by Hello All is both simple — an animation depicting a woman in a hijab drawing a heart — and universal. It makes sense that it was embraced by a wide audience in 2021 and we suspect it’s popularity will continue for years to come.
This Clip from our partner Plume, an organization that provides gender-affirming hormone replacement therapy for the transgender community, is a take on the decision trans folks face whether to begin “E” (estrogen/progesterone) or not. GIPHY is continually striving to make our library more inclusive so we’re glad to see this resonated so much with our users this year.
Desus and Mero is a super popular account on GIPHY and, as previously stated, expressions of admiration are also quite popular! This Clip is the perfect combination of the two and probably a favorite among group chats where friends and family might not have physically been able to be together, but wished to send messages of love.
Is there any sound more associated with celebrations than a party popper? The audio here coupled with the visuals of party hats and confetti makes this a perfect Clip for sending celebratory well-wishes.
Singer-songwriter Dorian Electra made some fantastic GIFs, Stickers, and Clips with GIPHY Studios this year and this piece is one of our favorites because it’s a unique take on saying “I love you.” We always try to elevate and amplify new and unique voices, which is why we’re so happy to see how well Dorian’s Clip performed this year.
Whew, that was a lot (but so was 2021, so that checks out)! While this may wrap up our Top GIFs and Clips of 2021, over the next few days we will also be announcing our top Stickers as well as even more vertical-specific content (Sports, TV, Artists, etc.) via our social channels (Twitter, Instagram) and Stories on our homepage. Stay tuned!