Long Live the GIF!
Don’t believe everything you read — the GIF is alive and well in 2022. GIPHY has been proud to be the premiere destination for all things looping for 10 years and among the diligent GIPHY team members tasked with animating millions of conversations around the world, the love for the GIF medium hasn’t faded one bit. Clearly, you all continue to have an attachment as well — GIPHY content (including GIFs, Stickers, and Clips) racked up trillions of views across billions of searches. From the most mainstream memes to the most niche GIPHY Artist content, there were plenty of eyeballs on our library this year.
This Year’s List
GIPHY has been chronicling the top content on our site for years now (Remember Blinking White Guy? Or “Okurrr”? Or “And I…Oop?”) And while cultural trends may shift and the celebrities change, this annual list always results in an emotional pulse of the world that year.
In order to hone in on that pulse, we’re continuing the approach in our data calculations that we started last year. In the metrics used to evaluate the top content of 2022, extra emphasis was placed on outliers from daily evergreen searches. This curatorial focus allows for a more insightful overview of content that derived its popularity from cultural and emotional spikes vs consistently trending search terms (i.e. it’s always someone’s birthday and GIPHY users are always searching for content to celebrate those birthdays). By doing this, we feel confident that we’re not only providing a more diverse array of 2022’s most popular content, but also a more accurate interpretation of GIPHY’s use case this year.
What Does It All Mean?
GIPHY’s top GIF of 2022 being from HBO’s Euphoria is a welcome, but not unsurprising, victory. After all, it was one of the buzziest (and best) shows of the year, taking over internet chatter for most of early 2022. In fact, it was less a question of if Euphoria was going to be the top GIF and more which moment from season 2 was going to come out on top — the show supplied us with so, so, so many moments that worked their way into tweets and Slack messages over the year.
But in the end, it was Zendaya’s emotional “thank you” that consistently settled into the rotation of GIPHY users’ conversations over the course of the year. The combination of Zendaya’s undeniable star power, her powerful delivery of this line, and our users’ need for a strong way to say “thank you” to the people in their lives shot this GIF to the top of our list.
From there, the list of most popular GIFs become snapshots of culture in 2022: emotional moments from the worlds of sports and entertainment, silly and sweet artist content from GIPHY’s talented network of creators, and newly iconic GIFs of popular celebrities like Bad Bunny and Paul Rudd.
If Euphoria represents the power of the zeitgeist show in our 2022 recap, the #1 most popular Clip of the year is a tribute to an enduring entertainment icon: SpongeBob Squarepants. SpongeBob has become a key component to meme culture in recent years, with some popular images of him leaning towards the absurdist nature of the character. However, the top Clip embraces the sweet side of the show by emphasizing the friendship between SpongeBob and Patrick. With its recognizable voices, charming sentiment, and universal themes, it’s easy to see how this Clip was embraced by friends around the globe.
While SpongeBob is beloved around the world, we were excited to see so many creators and artists on our top list who don’t have the benefit of a cartoon that’s been running for 20 years. This clever group is using the Clips format to create hilarious and highly shareable videos, resulting in hundreds of millions of views between them. And, of course, where would a GIPHY list of top content be without a cat? Some things never change.
So… Who Made it on the Lists?
- Top Partner Channels of 2022: The NFL topped the list this year for most-viewed partner channel. We saw several other sports GIPHY channels in the top 10 as well, including the NBA, UFC, and MLB. Popular categories also include entertainment, such as TV and gaming (PeacockTV, South Park, Everdale) as well as advocacy groups (Hello All, Into Action). In addition, we are excited to announce Drew Barrymore as our “Personality of the Year!” This award highlights the GIPHY user that best used their full personality in order to create some of the most popular content of the year. This year, no one deserves this award more than Drew — one of the greatest GIF advocates (and last year’s Top Clip winner)!
- Top Artist Channels of 2022: Cheers to Kenny Mays who had the most-viewed artist channel of the year! The top 10 most-viewed artist channels also include: Vincent Winter, curly_mads, Mostapes, Travis Foster, Da Yao, Lazy Corgi, Babybluecat, Pusheen, and Jelene Morris.
And now, here are the Top GIFs and Clips of 2022!
2022 shall henceforth be known as “The Year Of Zendaya.” The actress took home her second Emmy in as many seasons for her portrayal of Rue on HBO’s Euphoria and the show itself reached peak popularity with viewers and critics alike. But more importantly, Zendaya is the star of this year’s highest-viewed GIF(!), which is to be expected considering Euphoria’s gigantic following and the impact of this moment in particular, which occurs in the sixth episode of season two, titled “A Thousand Little Trees of Blood.” In this scene, Rue is begging for forgiveness from her Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, Ali (played by Colman Domingo), and is overcome with relief when he mercifully accepts her apology. It’s emotional, impactful, succinct, and features one of the biggest stars of our generation.
We are overjoyed to see a piece of illustrator Fran Solo’s original content at the top of the 2022 charts. Croquetas, a delicious staple of Spanish tapas cuisine, are brought to life here resulting in a jovial, cheerful GIF that brings us a smile whenever we see it.
In this GIF, Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny (born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio) appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote his acting debut in the third season of Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico. However, his foray into television was just one in a series of huge accomplishments over the last several years. He’s racked up countless awards including Grammys, American Music Awards, and Billboard Music Awards; his fourth album, El Último Tour Del Mundo, became the first fully-Spanish language album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 charts and he even competed in WWE’s Wrestlemania! The man is an icon, but still remembers to take a minute to show love to his fans. Bad Bunny, we speak for everyone when we say: Yo también te amo!
This GIF features Kim Seok-woo, better known by his stage name of Rowoon, who’s pretty much a modern-day Renaissance Man. He sings (he’s been a member of the K-pop band SF9 since its inception in 2016), he models, and he even acts, most recently in the 2022 MBC show Tomorrow, which also streams on Netflix. With all of his success and popularity it’s no wonder fans are giving love to this finger hearts GIF from The Swoon (Netflix’s community for K-drama fans).
Any list ranking the greatest tennis players of all time would be incomplete without Daniil Medvedev; similarly, any list featuring 2022’s most popular GIFs would be incomplete without this one! Medvedev, a long-celebrated Russian tennis player who’s racked up accolade after accolade over the course of his career also snagged a singles title win at this year’s Los Cabos Open. The mic tap captured in this GIF, the perfect encapsulation of that is-this-thing-on feeling, was one of the most popular pieces of content on GIPHY this year, thus earning this highly-decorated tennis pro yet another win.
Who doesn’t love a redemption story? Last season, South Carolina Gamecocks player, Aliyah Boston, missed a shot at the buzzer to end the season with a heartbreaking loss. In 2022, her team not only won the championship game, but Boston herself was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP). Do you have chills? Because we do! In the post-game interview represented here, Boston’s declaration that she was experiencing “happy tears” was a beautiful and touching moment, and you can really feel her emotion coming through the GIF.
There’s been a theory among GIPHY’s Editorial Team that reality TV shows often produce the best GIFs, and this moment from Love Island USA proves why: unfiltered reactions, both good and bad, of normal people who find themselves in abnormal situations are always super relatable. Here, contestant Valerie “Val” Bragg is expressing her anxiety during a season four episode of the show, which is based on the British series of the same name. The concept of a reality dating show is hardly new, but the genre has seen enormous popularity growth in the last couple of years, with fans of Love Island USA leading the charge.
There’s no shortage of gorgeous GIFs on the Hello All GIPHY channel, which includes thousands of pieces of content that feature diversity and representation, but this gratitude bouquet is a standout. While the world isn’t perfect by any means, GIFs like this show that users are still finding moments of gratitude in 2022.
Everyone’s celebrity crush, Paul Rudd, is absolute perfection in this GIF. This moment is from the ninth episode of season 47 of Saturday Night Live, when Rudd took his turn in the spotlight as host. His episode took place just as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was spiking in New York City, where the show films, so it featured a limited cast and several pre-recorded segments. In this sketch, Rudd portrayed a director filming a holiday wish list-themed commercial for the store HomeGoods featuring two older women (played by SNL vets Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant). To Rudd’s initial frustration, the participants wouldn’t answer any of his questions about home furnishings and instead could only talk about how much they wanted grandchildren. As the bit went on, Rudd hilariously found himself suddenly wishing for grandchildren. In the end, one of the women received a phone call and learned that her daughter was pregnant, they all rejoiced in a moment of excitement — Rudd, most of all!
If cozy couple vibes are your thing, you might want to check out this GIF which has them in spades. The source material is, of course, Taylor Swift’s short film All Too Well, which is an adaptation of Swift’s 10-minute track of the same name from her 2012 album, Red. The film features Dylan O’Brien and breakout Stranger Things star, Sadie Sink, and as loyal Swifties know, is inspired by the singer’s own ill-fated relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. The piece received multiple awards including the coveted Video of the Year statue at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, and was even screened at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Top Clips of 2022
More than two decades after its premiere, the animated series SpongeBob Squarepants still finds itself firmly-rooted in the cultural zeitgeist. The show is as big of a hit as they come, spawning multiple spin-offs, movies, games, theme park rides, and even a Broadway musical. Not to mention thousands of Internet memes that are as popular today as ever. The animated facial expressions and over-the-top emotions of the show’s characters are perfect for conveying any sentiment, so it’s not a shock that a Clip from SpongeBob was the highest-viewed of the year. This Clip showcases both the title character and his best friend, a starfish named Patrick Star, and through this quick exchange alone we get a strong sense of their friendship dynamic. It’s humorous and sweet, and a fantastic example of a Clip’s capacity for short-format storytelling.
This moment of Migos member Offset is from an episode of the Complex News interview series 360 With Speedy Morman, where the rap trio appeared to promote the final installment of their Culture album trilogy. It had been three years since their last release, and the anticipation for this new album was palpable in the rap community. While this Clip had been used throughout 2022 with joy and excitement, the recent, tragic death of Migos’ Takeoff (seen sitting next to Offset) transforms this moment into a bittersweet memory of a talent lost too soon.
We find ourselves in the age of social media influencers, TikTok sensations, and YouTube stars, and there has been a noticeable shift in Internet culture as users have begun gravitating towards content made by original creators. Clayton Farris is one of those creators (and part of GIPHY Studios’ Creators Club), and he’s to thank for this darkly comedic take on saying “I love you,” which includes an ominous score and a creepy dude slicing through a framed picture using a carving knife. It’s imaginative, quirky, and completely unique, a perfect piece of shareable content.
Tien Tran is a comedian and actress (she currently stars on the Hulu series How I Met Your Father), and she also happens to have a hysterical GIPHY channel. This Clip ranks among our favorites for its cynical “Happy New Year” sentiment, with the unsentimental, matter-of-fact messaging finding mass appeal among an audience of jaded millennials and Gen Z-ers. Like Clayton, Tien is also part of our own GIPHY Studios’ Creators Club.
If there ever was a Clip that spoke directly to our soul, it would be this one. Artist and creator Jin Zhan’s character, Sophia, is seen here as she inhales numerous baked desserts and it became a massive hit in 2022. The combination of the upbeat music, the ASMR of her eating, and the engaging visuals all come together to form a universally-loved Clip.
There’s something hypnotic about “Party Tricks,” an original piece from artist Sharon Liu. The action depicted is simply the silhouette of a woman’s legs balancing a glass of wine, and it’s set to a soundtrack of all the sounds one would expect to find at a party, like laughter and clinking glasses. As people became more comfortable socializing in 2022 it’s safe to assume more celebrations were taking place. As a result, users had an appetite for not just party content, but the environment of a party itself, all of which is pleasantly packaged and contained within this Clip.
Are you sensing a pattern? The sights and sounds in this piece, from illustrator Simon Badt, does a wonderful job of capturing a moment in time. In this case, it’s a man eating noodles in, presumably, a restaurant. We hear the din of other diners and the sounds of a busy eatery, all of which is a breath of fresh air following years of quarantining and isolation for many of us.
It’s no surprise that a Clip featuring a catchy dance would grab the attention of users in 2022. Original creator Hiber’s Clip shows the subject, a man whose face is obscured by a helmet, doing funny dances in various settings. You’ve heard of The Dougie, Flossing, Dabbing, and The Whole Shack Shimmy, and we’re thinking Holy Spirit: Activate might just be next!
Some things in life are certain: the sky will be blue, the grass will be green, and cat memes will dominate the Internet. Beloved GIPHY partner and leading animal welfare organization, Best Friends Animal Society, is working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Their content features hundreds of adoptable pets, including (of course) cats. The cat in this Clip has a tough-guy expression that’s only enhanced by the “Yo!!!” audio and we are proud to see it enter the pantheon of cat memes that came before it.
What at first appears to be a bouncing ball in this illustrated Clip from artist Misato Oka for Cartuna quickly transforms into a cute little bear, which then gives a big hug to another cute little bear. Need we say more? Expressions of love are ubiquitous and highly sought after on GIPHY, especially after a period of time where people were separated from one another.