Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"What happens in D.C. stays on YouTube!"

For a list of memes on YouTube, see YouTube/Memes. For recommendations, see YouTube Recommendations.

YouTube is a video sharing site that has achieved worldwide popularity since it first launched in 2005. While the official purpose of the site is to host homemade videos and clips, it is unofficially the place where you can watch copyrighted materials from all types of mediums, search for random/odd clips and/or check out the latest blogs and videos from notable users.

Users can upload their videos on whatever subject they want (unless it violates the broad and vague "Community Guidelines" or someone files a copyright claim because they didn't like the video). The quality often ranges from below Ed Wood-type works to studio quality materials, depending on what it is. Surprisingly, a lot of the personal videos of individuals often do have something to say that are actually worth watching and listening to. Some of the material is actually supplied by studios, including music videos which were uploaded by authorized agents of the record company (alongside dozens of nearly identical copies uploaded by delirious users.) It should be noted that YouTube is also a place to watch some of the movies and shows that have never officially been released, or are downright unavailable anywhere else. Same goes for rare music.

Several online sources (including the BBC World Service) claim that anywhere from 6 to 36 hours of video is uploaded to the site - every minute. Everyone probably has a favorite video(s) or their favorite videographer with his own channel.

There's been a serious and somewhat harsh crackdown on copyright infringement over the past couple of years; expect to click to see a video, such as an Abridged Series, only to find there is no audio, but the video is still intact (for the moment) along with a large amount of cursing in the comments section, and maybe a Samaritan posting a link to some foreign site unaffected by American law (or it's another site forcing you to take a survey to 'watch' a video that's impossible to see anywhere else). YouTube can't be blamed for this, though; they're facing multi-billion dollar lawsuits from entertainment companies, which leads to videos being taken down under the DMCA unless someone contests they are to be Fair Use (or not even infringing copyright), even if this includes in mistakingly removing videos from official music channels (on at least two occasions) in the process. This has led to the phrase "Watch it before it gets taken down" for any rarely seen copyright show or movie. The end result is that many people who rely on parodying or reviewing copyrighted works (which has been long-recognised as fair use) have largely jumped ship to more creator-friendly sites such as Revver or This has been mollified of late with entertainment companies embracing the internet model more and uploading their shows and music videos on an ad-supported on-demand basis, although there remain angry comments on these videos bemoaning the fact their authors can't willingly and knowingly infringe copyright anymore.

Content censorship was tightened from 2017 and onward, due to advertisers withdrawing sponsorship in response to content supporting political extremism, some of it outright propaganda. Unfortunately, everything from news footage from the Syrian conflict to LGBTQ content and historical information about the Holocaust has been taken down as collateral damage. While there's a big difference between a Da'esh propaganda video boasting of a beheading and a journalist or human rights organisation's video exposing the atrocities, these subtle distinctions are often lost on huge, faceless corporations handling user-generated content.

On any given day, under the most viewed videos on the site, you will find:

  • Snarky blogs by online users who have many subscribers and, because of this, believe they're pseudo-celebrities.
  • The latest trailer for a major movie release, usually copied off a website
  • Several videos from a recently-held sporting event (bonus points if it involves a ridiculously improbable shot or goal).
  • Political commentary videos.
  • Parts of the latest episode of America's Next Top Model (which are usually taken down after a few hours).
  • American Idol/Britains Got Talent performances (usually taken down shortly, unless they're on the official channels).
  • Cat videos. Cute Kitten.
  • The latest episode of Japanese or Spanish soap operas.
  • A spam filter for the comments section that has vague standards.
  • A video that has been marked as age-restricted despite the content being similiar to non-restricted videos.
  • A video that had its audio removed due to one of its music tracks not being authorized by a major record label.
  • A video removed for terms of use violation (most times for obvious reasons, though other times, it's anyone's guess why).
  • A video removed for copyright infringement (often times, the user would get a warning strike for that).
  • A video removed because the YouTube account associated with that video is deleted. (If the user violated their Community Guidelines or Copyright Policy).
  • A video which has been padded out to the length of a well-known feature film and uploaded under the name of that copyrighted film, but merely displays one URL link to some spam website for the entire hour or two of runtime.
  • A video removed by the user of his or her own accord for reasons unknown.
  • Videos of people doing everyday, ordinary things, or just playing around.
  • Videos complaining about YouTube censorship.
  • Screamers and Jump Scares in general[1].
  • The occasional Rickroll.
  • YTP (Which usually get taken down for copyright infringement.)

Other Youtube Video Staples

  • Anime - usually in several parts and fansubbed/dubbed (and often missing segments because they're copyright infringement).
  • Commercials so old that even your grandmother hasn't seen them.
  • Concert footage shot on low-resolution cell phones (which can and have been removed for copyright infringement).
  • Tons of Cosplay Otaku Girl's and Guys, for good or ill.
  • Tens of thousands of fake emergency alert tests. Many real EAS and EBS videos (mainly tests and tornado warnings) have been uploaded over the years.
  • Episodes of still-running or forgotten TV shows. Some users will trick people into viewing their video by uploading a spoof image of an expected episode and filling it with spam, a still image, or a link to their own site instead. However, a portion of the site is dedicated to officially uploaded full seasons/series for shows ranging in age from the 60's to the late 00's. Not outside the US (and sometimes Canada and/or the UK).
  • Fanimes/fanvids (which can and have been removed for copyright infringement).
  • Flash animation videos stolen from sites like Newgrounds or Nico Nico Douga.
  • Funny captions that are (for the most part) way, way off from what's being spoken.
  • Video Game playthroughs (especially of older or not-exported games, or Nintendo Hard Platform Hell titles complete with expletive-laden running commentary). (Which aren't supposed to be removed for copyright infringement, but often have been anyway).
  • Old movies in multiple parts.
  • Parodies of almost any popular song you can imagine.
  • Popular scenes and moments from movies, TV shows, and the like (which can and have been for copyright infringement).
  • A song, particularly a music videos, played backwards (or, if the lyrics don't match the video's visuals, a "literal music video").
  • Video game cutscenes (which can and have been removed for copyright infringement).
  • Videos of alleged ghost, Bigfoot and UFO sightings (that usually end up being screamers). A helpful tip: turn your volume off and read the comments before watching these videos.
  • Videos of amateur performances of everything from covers of popular songs, to performances of original songs written by whoever is singing them, pre-taped videos of everything from school plays to dance recitals, etc.
  • Videos of animals being cute.
  • Videos of people making stunts with skateboards, snowboards, parkour or other extreeme sports.
  • Instruction videos of everyting from making push ups to sewing Victorian era ball gowns.
  • Videos promoting conspiracy theories.
  • Videos with the Mondegreens Invoked of what the words sound like to an English (or any other language) speaker.
  • Videos wherein the author self-righteously soapboxes on some topic of religion, evolution vs. creationism, or politics, and explains why everybody who disagrees with him/her is a complete idiot, usually with cringeworthy use of strawmen.
  • Videos promoting Misplaced Nationalism and insulting a country or ethnicity, or just comments doing the same thing on a video that isn't promoting Misplaced Nationalism and just happens to be about a particular country.
  • Videos of people doing really stupid things.
  • Reaction videos, usually of something very nasty.
  • Videos of politicians saying things they just went on record as denying having ever said.
  • Videos of songs being performed in music-composing programs, including Mario Paint Composer and Audiosurf.
  • Videos of tourists driving or walking through foreign cities. Alternately, people conducting drives or walkthroughs of their hometown.
  • Videos ultimately complaining about YouTube's copyright policy, or how to bypass it.
  • Videos labeled "Bloopers" that turn out to be fanmade bloopers.
  • Videos redirecting you to a website saying that you can watch the video there - that will force you to take a survey, never allow you to watch the video, and send you spam
  • Videos that have virus links. There's always one up. Most notably the spam you've been seeing on your Facebook profile, disguised as a link to something "shocking!".
  • Videos of kids throwing temper tantrums when asked to go off the computer and leave their online games, usually World of Warcraft.
  • Haul videos, wherein somebody displays and discusses the items that she/he bought during a recent shopping trip. These items can be anything from designer shoes to dental floss.
  • Unboxing videos, similar to haul videos, but frequently filmed from a first-person perspective and centering on a single item of brand-new technology, like a sought-after video game or the newest e-reader / cell phone / Apple device.
  • "X does Y for Z minutes", basically a particular scene looped around for a few minutes.
  • A cell-phone shot video (of usually a fight) that will more than likely attract all sorts of racist comments.
  • Episodes of short-running TV series most people didn't even know existed (which can and have been removed for copyright infringement).
  • Videos with deformed people or animals, either real or a Special Effects Failure. Comments will usually have people wondering how they ended up at the weird side of Youtube again.
  • Mirrored copies of videos taken down for unknown terms of use violations (most often false-flagged DMCA notices).
  • Caramelldansen Vids

For better or worse, the site attracts a large amount of discussion, Natter and cringe-worthy comments from users. A very popular trend is to insult everyone who clicked the "dislike" button for a video. The usual format is "(number of people who clicked the dislike) (insult)." (Note, though, that the positioning of the "Like" button just below the Play button makes it ridiculously easy to fill your "videos liked" bin with stuff you didn't necessarily want there, and "disliking" a video you just accidentally liked is easier than editing your preferences) Another popular trend is blaming anyone who dislikes a video on fans of another popular artist or work or the more ridiculous claim that a single person, usually said artist, created multiple accounts to lay multiple dislikes on a single video. Also, if you look really hard, you'll find a few Only Sane Men (or women) who think that such trends and comments are stupid.

Very notable videos
  • Several massively influential web series began on and were hosted by Youtube. These include:
    • Ray William Johnson , Who review the latest Viral Videos in his show called =3, and makes music videos under Your Favorite Martian.
    • The Annoying Orange, whose first video al-Nye-heh-heh-heh-heh-one has more than 90 mil-Nye-heh-heh-heh-heh-lion views. Is now in a major television deal with Cartoon Network.
    • The Angry Video Game Nerd started off on YouTube in 2006 before moving to ScrewAttack after his videos started becoming more popular.
    • The Nostalgia Critic, along with Doug Walker's Five Second Movies
    • Maffew's Botchamania is a long-running (and quite amusing) look at professional wrestling's least professional moments. After Maffew got his first two YouTube accounts suspended, he eventually started up his own site (which features many classic Botchamanias alongside brand new ones), and is still uploading brand new videos to YouTube via his third account.
    • Hey! It's Fred!, created as a short series, and was eventually adapted into at least two Nickelodeon original movies and an official Nickelodeon TV show.
    • Lonelygirl15, which gained massive media recognition for being one of the (if not the) first scripted webseries to have an ongoing plot and actual actors.
    • Tales of Mere Existence, a webseries that was popular enough to get noticed by the Showtime Channel, who commissioned a series of the shorts to play during interstitial breaks.
    • Zero Punctuation
  • Bill & Doug (aka RVDTito4Life), who were hired by TNA Wrestling to be the hosts of their online show, TNA Addicts.
  • Bo Burnham
  • Brotherhood2.0/Vlogbrothers/Nerdfighters: Hank and John Green started a vlogging project. Now they're bigger than Oprah (on the internet). Their fans are known as Nerdfighters, and they fight for all things nerdy. If you like Star Trek, Harry Potter, John's young adult novels, or anyone with an odd sense of humor, you are a Nerdfighter. Hank also writes and performs original songs for the vlog. Go watch.
  • Charlieissocoollike. Probably best known for dying his whole body purple and singing.
  • Charlie The Unicorn (which actually originates from Newgrounds). It has more than 40 million views. Say "Candy Mountain" to any girl between the ages of 10 and 30 and they'll know what you're talking about.
  • "Chocolate Rain", an original composition by Tay Zonday. He sings. You move away from your computer to laugh.
  • The Dancing prisoners of Cebu.
  • The Darth Vader Sessions, which oh so hilariously blends footage of Vader with overdubbed lines James Earl Jones had from other roles in other films.
  • The propaganda and music of the great Doctor Steel, who has been namechecked by several media outlets and shows, including Jay Leno and MTV.
  • Evan Erwin, aka "mrorangeguy", hosts The Magic Show, which is purported to be the most popular video on Magic: The Gathering culture and highlights from someone not employed by Wizards of the Coast. The channel proved so popular that Wizards now gives him plenty of scoops and designer interviews.
  • The Game Station and most of its affiliates call YouTube home, including several notable gaming media producers:
  • Geriatric1927, a senior citizen living in the United Kingdom, blogs about his life, his experiences, and his random thoughts. He is one of the of the few YouTube users to gain national media coverage, having been covered by CNN, the BBC and many other national news organizations.
  • ItsJustSomeRandomGuy, who makes a clever, funny and occasionally moving meta- series mostly involving action figures of popular Marvel Comics and DCU superheroes comparing notes on their respective movie franchises, and usually degenerating in to snarky bickering in the process. Although starting off as parodies of Apple's 'I'm a Mac / I'm a PC' adverts, more recent postings have followed an ongoing narrative focusing on heroes and villains chilling out, with even their downtime leading to chaos and attempts to destroy the universe. See also Green Goblin's blog. Showing impressive vocal range, ItsJustSomeRandomGuy does all the voices (except the female characters, which are provided by ItsJustSomeRandomGal).
  • The Joker Blogs are an imaginative, post-Dark Knight series that chronicle the Joker's time in Arkham Asylum. Not only is it well-written, but the actors are amazing (especially the person who does the Joker) and the sheer amount of clever nods to the Batman continuity alone make it worth watching. You can see it here.
  • Diamanda Hagan: best known for her Bonekickers reviews.
  • SF Debris: science fiction reviews that focus on Star Trek.
  • World According To Jon: Opinions on nearly everything.
  • Justin Bieber, believe it or not, actually began his career posting homemade videos of himself on Youtube (check out his original page here, although you'll have to scroll down a bit in the video list to find those homemade videos). Everyone noticed and he eventually became a superstar but is now one of the most notable examples of It's Popular, Now It Sucks, considering that practically everyone on Youtube nowadays wishes death upon him.
  • A nice young lady named Kicesie (username) does non-graphic sex education videos. One video where she talks about oral sex (and just talks - there's nothing in this video you couldn't show in a public library) has upwards of 80 million views.
  • Know Your Meme, a website that essentially categorizes and organizes popular and overused trends.
  • The Miley and Mandy Show, a series of (usually) random and silly videos posted and starring Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus and her friend, then-current backup singer Mandy Jiroux. The videos were posted some time between 2008-2009, and at the peak of popularity included a series of Extreme Dance-Offs between Miley, Mandy, and their dancer-friends and member of other dance troupes; one dance-off made its way into a Teen Choice Awards show. Also notable for a small controversy in which M+M playfully mocked a video from a similar Disney-related pair making videos on YouTube, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, which was misinterpreted as being a product of a Real Life Selena/Miley rivalry.
  • The Muppet Viral Videos, made by the actual Muppet Studios. Of particular note is their cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody", which got 13 million views in three months. Getting the Muppets back in the limelight this way may have very well helped them get back on the big screen.
  • OMG! This girl is sooo hot!, a parody of any video posted to the site that fools users into thinking actual sexual content is contained in the video. Currently has more than 45 million views.
  • The Philip Defranco Show, probably the most popular daily irreverent pseudo-"news" show on YouTube, posted with a thumbnail of an intentionally attention-grabbing and misleading hot girl and and equally misleading title.
  • RedLetterMedia started out doing reviews/critiques of the later films in the Star Trek franchise (among other things) on Youtube, but it wasn't until they put up a brutal, all-encompassing seven-part evisceration of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in December 2009 that they got noticed by the Internet at large. You can start watching the Phantom Menace review here. Eviscerations of the second and third movies are also available.
  • The Remarkable Journey of Higgins Von Higgings -- Very short, but very awesome video.
  • Shane Dawson, a VERY not safe for kids youtuber who does sketch comedy, acting as all his characters.
  • Ultimate Muscle Roller Legend. The less said about this video, the better.
  • A Very Potter Musical, a musical parody based off the Harry Potter series written and performed by students from the University of Michigan. In the same vein, Potter Puppet Pals, which coined an entirely new genre in "animutation".
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series. The creator, Little Kuriboh, has a Youtube account where he uploads new episodes and other miscellaneous stuff related to the series. Was likely the first fandubbed series to have episodes pulled off the site for copyright infringement. You can find it here. It can also be found on its own website.
  • Community Channel by Natalie Tran, who actually got her own TV spot as a result of her internet popularity.
  • The "Shit [insert racial/social/gender group here] says" videos. It all started with "Shit Girls Say", and now every subculture is giving it their own spin.
  • Song mixes of the song Space Jam and some other popular (usually anime/game) song.

This stinger is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Statler & Waldorf Studios.
Sorry about that.

  1. Reading comments before watching the video may help people to avoid nasty surprises (therefore, a video with disabled comments is a further reason to get suspicious); additionally, as of March 2012, an update allows to see thumbnails for any given moment in the video by moving the cursor, thus helping further with spotting a screamer in advance