"Milhouse is not a meme. But "Milhouse is not a meme" IS a meme. If you fully understand this you have reached /b/ enlightenment."
Forcing a Meme is the act of trying to intentionally raise the popularity of something to memetic status. It can involve mass repetition of a phrase or trying to convince someone else that it is already memetic. Calling a meme a Forced Meme can be hard to disprove and is an excellent way to slander an annoying up-and-coming meme.
It should be noted that very few forced memes actually become accepted memes. It is still debated whether they deserve to be memes.
This runs almost opposite to the Streisand Effect, where an individual or company tries to snuff out something on the internet.
- The whole point of many kinds of ads is to make the product a household name and make sure everyone knows the slogan.
- Viral Marketing. Unlike most examples on this page, it usually works.
Anime and Manga
- In chapter 24 of the Yuru-Yuri manga, Kyouko annoys Yui - for a change - by attempting to make the term "washargling" popular in reference to cold prevention. Her staring at the "camera" implies that she wants the readers to use the term.
- In Bakuman｡, while running Tanto, Shuujin tries to do this. It doesn't really work.
- My Hero Academia; when Midnight (the self-titled “18+ heroine”) first became a pro, her costume was very skimpy, even more so than most Stripperific heroines. She had hoped this would start a trend where people were more accepting of such things, but it backfired completely, causing the government to impose "heroine decency laws"!
- In Kick-Ass, Dave and his friends try to bring the work "tunk" in to the mainstream as a new curse word.
- In The Secret Return of Alex Mack, Alex recruits several friends and contacts to short-circuit a growing meme of using a form of her superhero identity's name (tera-) as a general intensifier for both good and bad things, and replace it with "tera" as an adjective meaning "very good". Unlike most examples on this page, it works so well that everyone seems to forget the earlier usage entirely.
Films -- Live Action
- In Mean Girls, Gretchen tries to force "fetch" into being a cool term.
Regina: Gretchen, stop trying to make "fetch" happen! It's not going to happen!
- In the Josie and the Pussy Cats live action film, a corporation uses subliminal messages to do this constantly, like making the word "jerkin'" into a synonym for "cool."
- Parodied in An American Carol, when Michael Malone is trying to calm down a crowd of antiwar college students and they repeat the last three or four words of every one of his sentences in mantra-like "hey hey, ho ho" manner.
- A similar case occurs in Mary Poppins, when the madcap chimney sweeps, singing "Step In Time," appear out of the Banks's fireplace and start running amok through the house, mimicking (in song) anything said by the various characters they encounter. Leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when a maid screams "Aaah!" and the chimney sweeps chime in with "Aaah! Step in time!"
- "Hasta la vista, baby!"
- Reviews around the release of Terminator 3 actually praised its aversion to trying to one-up the first two's catchphrases.
- Beowulf had "I am Beowulf", which didn't catch on considering This Is Sparta had already been done by Three Hundred.
Live Action TV
- On Community, Pierce keeps trying to force "streets ahead".
- He succeeded in the real world, if one counts the show's fanbase.
- On News Radio, Beth tries to make the phrase "bitchcakes" popular. Strangely enough, it seems to work.
- An episode of The Muppet Show featured John Cleese as a (Kayfabe) extremely reluctant host who was forced to perform show tunes against his will. He kept protesting, but the Muppets would just take every one of his sentences and turn it into a song lyric. The whole thing eventually snowballed into a showstopping rendition of "To Dream the Impossible Dream."
- Barney on How I Met Your Mother is constantly coming up with new expressions and concepts which he tries to popularize. ("It's gonna be a thing.") Some of these have fizzled; others have caught on in-show and even in real life. Occasionally one will come back to bite him, like his "lemon law" did.
- But he never cares because he is so happy that it's a "thing".
- Michael in the Zoey101 episode "Drippin' Episode" tried to make "drippin'" catch on as a synonym for "cool." Other characters repeatedly told him it would never catch on...until the last minute of the episode, when it apparently has. Problem is, nobody believes that he started it, which prompts him to try making another Forced Meme..."flump" as a synonym for "not cool."
- Parodied on Masked Rider: Dex speaks in advertisements.
- John from Delocated is constantly trying to create new lingo. None of it ever catches on and he just looks like an idiot instead.
- On The Office, Andy's initial appearance has him trying to force Dwight out of the company by undermining him to Michael at every occasion. In one episode he invents the verb "Schruting" to mean screwing up and betraying everyone. He has no intention of making it a thing, but it does help in convincing Michael to fire Dwight by the end of the day.
- At the turn of The Nineties, Michael Jackson was jealous of the media nicknames given to Elvis Presley ("The King of Rock and Roll"), Bruce Springsteen ("The Boss"), etc., so his handlers came up with "The King of Pop, Rock, and Soul" for him. It was introduced to the public via an awards ceremony speech given by Elizabeth Taylor and shortened to "The King of Pop" soon afterwards. In the run-up to the release of Dangerous in 1991, Jackson's management urged MTV and FOX to use the phrase in all press releases, etc. related to Jackson and his videos. Rumors flew that the former was forced to use the phrase constantly; these were confirmed in the 2011 oral history I Want My MTV. This effort partially succeeded, since fans embraced the nickname right away, but once word got out about its origins, Jackson's publicity machine continuing to push it even as his career entered its downward spiral led to articles/news items to cheekily call him the "self-proclaimed King of Pop" in later years. The meme persists today—even Jermaine Jackson's announcement to the press that Michael had died started with: "My brother, legendary King of Pop Michael Jackson..."—and fans insist it isn't a forced one.
- One Zits strip featured Jeremy trying to get his slang term "plasmic" (meaning, "fine", as in "How are you?" "Plasmic") to catch on. It didn't, and he wound up giving up right away.
- Something similar happened in another strip, where Pierce tries to popularize saying "fully" instead of "totally." It was only in one strip, so presumably it didn't catch on.
- Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has admitted to several attempts to force memes that failed - including porcelain cruise (number 2 in the lavatory) and Powerpoint Poisoning. Luckily, he has plenty of memes and tropes arising from his non-attempts (e.g. Pointy-Haired Boss).
- Jason has tried to do this many times. However, trying to make binary a common language among humans, stick-on slugs, and theories about the pachycephalosaurus dominating other dinosaurs with Psychic Powers have not caught on as much as he had hoped.
- Also, Morton's attempt to turn fantasy football into a popular varsity sport seems doomed to failure. It is suggested the school sports department only started such a program - which only has two members - to keep him quiet.
- In 2005, the former Wrestlecrap message boards (now the Freaking Awesome Network forums) tried to get Dennis Stamp ("I'm not booked" from Beyond the Mat) over as a meme, and it worked, at least on said message board.
- It may have ascended when Zack Ryder referenced Dennis Stamp and recreated the trampoline scene on his Internet show.
- RD Reynolds and Triple Kelly tried to force "Basketball Jones" (Triple Kelly's nickname for Batista) as a meme, even going as far as to filter Batista's name into that aforementioned name. It didn't go over with the boards, though.
- The color commentators (Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole being the worst offenders) seem to have lots of stock phrases that they use over and over, but most of them never catch on among anyone else. Of particular note is Lawler's "Krispy Kreme" wisecrack, which I think was used one other time by someone else.
- Anything related to Cole after his heel turn. Just talk to anyone of his "Cole Miners" and see how quickly they keep reusing anything Cole has said over and over again.
- Botchamania forced the "Cornette Face" into a meme.
- "Fuck this company!"
- In 2011, WWE caught onto the whole idea that social networking could actually be a good thing to raise the profile of their company. They responded by promoting the hell out of Twitter on their shows and trying to turn everything into a Trending Topic, arguably to the detriment of their actual product. This reached its logical conclusion in December 2011, a "Trending Topic Match" where the winner was not the first wrestler to score a pinfall or submission, but the first wrestler to trend on Twitter.
- The big effort from WWE over the past few years has been the rebranding of the company's fans as "the WWE Universe". Much in the same way that wrestlers are known as "Superstars" in order to gradually distance the company from its wrestling product, "the WWE Universe" are not so much wrestling fans as purveyors of all the fine and varied media products WWE has to offer...which is about 99.2% wrestling. One cannot hear the phrase without it ringing in the ears as forced and unnatural, especially since it takes so much more conscious effort to say as opposed to simply "the fans".
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Selphie tries to force "Booyaka" into being cool. In Dissidia she admits that it failed. Unsurprisingly.
- Touhou already has a metric ton of memes, but fans still try to pile on more. Some of them catch, but others are rejected before they can get off the ground (the "since I'm Nazrin" meme attempt, for example). Still others (Cirno's "Atai = Eye" translation, for example) keep getting flogged, despite most of fanon ignoring the meme's existence.
- Sakuya padding/Lazy Meiling/Knifing jokes are still spammed, despite flames and downvoting comments.
- Another glaring example is "Yoshika is a cab driver." Despite a brief flurry of Youtube comments and one really bad photoshopped post on Danbooru, this attempt at a forced meme died swiftly and completely.
- Pokémon: FUCK YEAH, SEAKING! initially started as one, but his since been accepted as a meme.
- In World of Warcraft, in response to the sudden popularity of the minor Horde character Varok Saurfang (due to the Chuck Norris-themed 'Facts' actually being funny/awesome), many Alliance players attempted to use the same meme to promote Alliance minor heroes, in hopes of recreating the Saurfang phenomenon.
- To date, they have tried this for Bolvar Fordragon initially, then Magni Bronzebeard when that didn't catch on, then Varian Wrynn (... with disastarous results), then Magni's brother Muradin Bronzebeard, and now with the upcoming expansion Cataclysm, this is being attempted again with Genn Greymane and Darius Crowley. To date, none of these characters have actually caught on, despite many of them being generally likable (or at least tolerable) by the entire playerbase. Although it has resulted in Blizzard giving many of these characters, Bolvar in particular, more prominent roles in the story.
- With the release of Portal 2, several attempts have been made to get something to catch on to be the next "The cake is a lie!". This has included "SPAAAAACE!", "I'm a potato!" and "combustible lemons". While they have caught on among Portal fans, none of them have manage to achieve the same widespread popularity. The most likely reason is simply because it couldn't possibly be just as unique and fresh as the original was - which was what amplified the popularity of those original memes.
- It could also be an attempt by the writers to make the memes of Portal 2 to be not so popular as the cake meme due to how they got sick of everyone telling them how the cake is a lie.
- In Dwarf Fortress forums on Bay 12, referring to going to Hell as the "circus" or the "clown car" or the "circus tent", the inhabitants as "clowns", and the stuff you dig through to get there as "cotton candy" or just "candy" has met with mixed results, with some fans amusedly adopting the phrasing and others finding it ridiculous.
- For a time, a certain user would reply to everything with "MAGMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" and would periodically be called upon to do such in threads, a developing Forced Meme which garnered some hate and was finally killed off for good when said user was banned for... replying to everything with "MAGMAAAAAAAAA".
- Many gamers used to play Skyrim, but then they took an unfunny forced meme to the knee.
- Dear God, Tumblr. Not only is it where already dead memes go to die even further, it's where all new memes created on the site are dead on arrival. Both are due to the tendency of the community to overexpose everything.
- John Green of the Vlog Brothers is trying to make "French the llama!" into a meme. It has met with limited success within the Nerdfighter fanbase, but elsewhere... not yet.
- This happens quite often on Know Your Meme. Nearly daily in fact. And everyone there is tired of the constant forcing attempts. It will never work.
- TV Tropes. Occasionally someone tries to sneak his or her idea for a meme on to a page, sometimes going so far as to interfere with other entries to force them into the limelight.
- Occasionally this succeeds on 4chan, and other forum Web sites.
- Milhouse was an early attempt on 4chan to force a meme and, in a weird meta way, succeeded. Milhouse became a way to call out subsequent forced attempts and would occasionally appear to ask if he was a meme yet, leading to "Milhouse is not a meme" becoming a meme. Confused yet?
- In other words, "Milhouse isn't a meme" is a meme, Milhouse himself is not the meme. Thus, "Milhouse isn't a meme" acts as a loose metaphor to discredit forced memes.
- 4chan's anonymous posting means it's subject to a disproportionate number of meme-forcing attempts, since it's easy for a single person to pretend to be multiple people while spamming the would-be meme. "Samefag" is the term users have come up with for people who do this (though it's also commonly leveled at any post that agrees with any prior one).
- On YouTube, people occasionally attempt to become Internet famous by posting odd videos.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, Joey tries to force "Brooklyn Rage" into becoming a meme, only to be swiftly cut down by Yami (and his "Egyptian Rage"). The funny thing is, it worked: Brooklyn Rage became a meme, to the point where Wayne Grayson (Joey's official voice actor in the 4Kids dub) cites "Brooklyn Rage" as his favourite Joey line despite him "never actually saying it in the show".
- CARD GAMES ON MOTORCYCLES!!!
- "And don't forget. Kroze. KROZE. KROOOOOOOOOZE!!!"
- Yugi's attempts at "Super special awesome!" which Joey continues to deride.
- Lolcolization, which actually sounds pretty funny if it does take off.
- In his review for Double Team, The Nostalgia Critic openly demanded for "Frying the Coke" to be turned into a meme. It... didn't work.
- In his defense, though, he openly admitted that it probably wouldn't catch on.
- It didn't help that he tried to compare "Frying the Coke" to Jumping the Shark, which is a trope, and Nuking the Fridge, which was meant to be the Jumping the Shark trope applied to film. He later clarified "Frying the Coke" to mean an instance where somebody does something so stupid that you can't help but find it awesome. So it is, more or less, an incidental form of Crazy Awesome.
- He succeeded more with "I was frozen today!".
- The Nostalgia Chick successfully made Non Sequitur Scene into a trope.
- The YTMND equivalent is called a "forced fad". Examples include Moon Man, Drew Pickles, and Mr. Krabs.
- Google bombing.
- Twitter trending, for that matter.
- Deviant ART seems to be trying to turn llamas into a meme, what with its llama emote, llama badges, and all that.
- Who are in turn being forced into the llama meme by Maxis, original owner of the Sim-whatever series.
- Similarly, there are "draw something in response to this/these question(s)" based memes which are very popular within the site so can be considered a small-scale meme.
- Within the Orion's Arm setting transapients can do this with ease, often with serious side effects. People usually have their mail edited to make it "memetically neutral".
- The Amazing Atheist tried to make "You Have Been Blueberry Pied" into some kind of new Rickroll. It failed. Miserably.
- This Cracked article with the word "dongtacular". The word's spread quite successfully throughout the website (though the dongtacularness of its longevity is up to question).
- After the Platypus Comix article "Errors in Corporate Judgment" included a Magic Eye puzzle with a description that used "Froggy" as a synonym for "awesome," the author closed the article by declaring "Froggy" official slang for the website.
- Going way back to the long-ago time of 2001, the newsgroup rec.arts.tv.mst3k.misc tried an experiment to get the phrase "monkey sugar" into common language. It didn't work, but it did get an Urban Dictionary page five years later, and the term is still in (infrequent) use on the newsgroup itself.
- On "Metokur" their phrase "Glad I Could Help" serves as this as not only Habermann himself uses it but every other member of this very same site uses it all the damn time.
- Before the game came out, the Diablo 3 GDF had "Cool Shelf", based on a Translation Train Wreck post. Wound up gaining popularity until the community manager Bashiok actually labeled a part of his desk "Cool Shelf".
- The Vampire Game is a forum thread being virally posted by one person across multiple forums as of late, Needs More Love. The author claims that the more offensive elements of the original post are in fact the ideas of a relative who strongarms them into adding them
- The story goes that Cycon of Project DCK attempted to force "cream them jeans" in some podcast series or other. He tried to force it so hard that it died in record time and even he got sick of it before more than a couple episodes.
- Gary Brolmsa, the Numa Numa Guy is a successful attempt from when memes in general were just starting to get widespread attention.
- WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS?!
- The Runaway Guys tried this with Wario's "D'oh, I missed!" It worked.
- This... thing. They don't get more blatant than this.
- Chris Marek aka 'Magnum' on Encyclopedia Dramatica's frequent mentions of 'Broccoli rape' on the forums.
- Not to mention comparing Drmusic2 to Chris Chan.
- Overrusing meme references that weren't even funny.
- Using "Glad I Could Help".
- Claiming Andria is made up.
- And sucking up to the admins.
- Not to mention comparing Drmusic2 to Chris Chan.
- In Unwinder's Tall Comics, Unwinder tries to force a meme by mentioning it in webcomics he draws. Webcomics that he started solely to spread said meme.
- Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff is intended as a source of memes for the characters in Homestuck.
- The Homestuck fandom itself has had a few forced memes trying to ride on the success of "What's in the box, Jack?", involving before-after reaction pictures of characters.
- Darths and Droids gave us "Jar Jar, you're a genius", with the author's commentary clearly indicating his intent to create the meme.
- From the pages of Keychain of Creation (or rather, its forum): nooooo my scheme
- Since The Order of the Stick has a lot of Ensemble Darkhorses as it is, some fans picked a totally random Azurite soldier ("That Guy With a Halberd") and tried to elevate him to this status. It sort of worked---he gets brought up a lot when it's time to make Crack Pairings, but still, he's no O-Chul.
- Every other line spoken by Musaran in the Ciem Webcomic Series, as well as what would have been some of Dolly's lines, was intended to be pushed for this status. This includes "Nice gallbladder!", "DIIIIIEEEEEE!!!" and "Now I tear off limbs!!!" So far, none of those lines ever truly caught on. Although "DIIIIEEEEE!!!" does bear a lot of similarity to "You Must Die!"
- El Goonish Shive seemed to be doing this with "sexy awesome," but the phrased hasn't been used in the comic in years (fans on the board still use it, though).
- Bob and George: According to author comments, he expected "Butts Smell Nice" to catch on as a meme, but didn't really push it when it didn't catch on. The memes that did catch on, like "Wanna go do something stupid?" he considered impossible to predict.
- In Least I Could Do, Rayne tries to spread the use of "vagoo" as a more casual synonym for the vagina. Some time later, one of his female co-workers uses it, he remarks "I knew that would catch on!"
- Sheldon succeeds in doing this with the word "Frr" to win a bet. He succeeds largely by throwing around huge piles of cash to TV and music executives.
- In one episode of American Dad, Stan mentions offhandedly that he's been trying and failing to create a new catchphrase. At least, Klaus liked it.
- The writers hoped that one episode of The Simpsons (Homer Defined) would introduce the phrase to "pull a Homer" (to succeed despite idiocy) into the English language. It didn't. Now, the dozens of times they didn't try to pull of a meme... most of those worked.
- A British sportsperson used it once, to the confusion of those in the news.
- In the episode of South Park where the characters met their "evil" counterparts from another dimension, Cartman kept using the word "hella" as an adverb meaning "very" or "extremely." It never caught on among anyone else, and Kyle kept (unsuccessfully) telling Cartman to stop using it.
- This is real Northern California slang, occasionally sprouting up elsewhere.
- In another episode, Cartman tried to spread 'meekrob' as a swear word.
- "I have an idea that's totally tits!" "Totally WHAT?"
- Trey and Parker really hoped "Muff Cabbage" would catch on but admitted in the commentary it never did.
- In an episode of The Critic, Jay's boss Duke has paid off Webster's Dictionary to invent his own words, like "Dukelicious". Much to his disappointment, nobody's using them ("What a Duketastrophe!").
- The Robot Chicken Star Wars Full-Assed Special has Anakin/Darth Vader trying to bring back "wizard."
- Discussed briefly in-universe with Fantastic Mr. Fox and his made-up Verbal Tic: whistling and then clicking his tongue.
- It worked.
- An attempt to give a Fan Nickname to an obscure nameless PC-98 midboss. It even affected this wiki. Mima-sama did not approve
- Saying he could hold back the entire Scourge on his own is pretty much true now.
- though not memes in the faddy sense, they do involve many people using the same template to give their own response which is closer to the original definition