14 People Who Inspired Viral Internet Memes.


Yao Ming is a retired Chinese basketball player and is the face of the oh-so popular “Pff!” meme.

Imagine what it would be like if someone used your photo every time they wanted to illustrate something funny, or outrageous? You’d become the laughing stock of humanity, and there’s nothing you would be able to do about it. Well, if you’re lucky, or unlucky enough to be one of these people, then your face has probably gone viral through these memes. Just ask these iconic faces, who were nothing but regular Joes, leading regular lives when suddenly, they became internet sensations.

Anyone who has devoted more than fifteen minutes to the internet has probably seen these memes floating around. But have you ever wondered who the people behind the memes are? Well, wonder no more because this what the people from your favorite memes look like now.

Ming played for the Shanghai Sharks, but he became immortalized when someone caught this facial expression after his teammate Ron Artest walked out in the middle of an interview during a press conference in 2009.

billsanders / Twitter / knowyourmeme

Nusret Gokce, aka Salt Bae, did something in an Instagram video that made him totally famous.

The Turkish chef who owns a chain of steak houses called Nusr-Et sprinkled salt in such a dainty and hilarious way that the internet simply couldn't handle it. But he had no idea that such a simple gesture would get turned into a meme that symbolized someone doing something sassy as heck.

nusr_et / Instagram

If you don’t know who Lavell Maurice Crawford is, then you’re not a fan of “Breaking Bad.”

When the actor appeared in season 5, episode 10, he probably never imagined that laying on a wad of cash and shouting “I gotta do it,” would become a meme that symbolized someone who just became rich instantly.

Breaking Bad / Lavellthacomic / Twitter

A scene from the show “Her Own Destiny,” made Brazilian Renata Sorrah an unforgettable meme star.

Sorrah’s character Nazare Tedesco was deep in thought during a scene on her show. That scene was later screenshot and used to express when someone is totally lost in thought or trying to calculate some huge mathematical equation. You know, like when you're trying to do the math in your head and explain how you ended up spending $500 at Sephora when you only bought 3 items. Yikes!

kinopoisk / Senhora do Destino

Even Willy Wonka got turned into a meme, and he’s not even real. But the actor who played him was.

The late Gene Wilder passed away on August 29, 2016, from Alzheimer-related complications, but he’ll always be remembered for his role on “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.” Oh, and then there’s this meme that symbolizes that someone around you isn’t very trustworthy. Just look at that face! Gene Wilder isn't buying it!

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Tardar Sauce was turned into an internet celebrity cat when he became the famous Grumpy Cat.

An underbite and feline dwarfism had given Tardar Sauce that grumpy look, which internet users eventually converted into a meme that people use whenever they want to express sadness or depression.

Reddit / wikipedia

When Laina Morris uploaded a YouTube video in 2012, she didn’t know she was destined for greatness.

Morris performed a parody video based on Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend." Eventually, she became known as Overly Attached Girlfriend. But this was an issue for Morris, who quickly learned that people were looking for her on Facebook and were trying to find personal information about her.

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Zoe Roth became known as Disaster Girl after her father took this photo of her in January 2004.

The fire in the distance was two blocks away from Roth’s home in Mebane, North Carolina. But the burning house was simply a live training drill for the local fire department. Still, her dad, Dave, took the photo, and now she wishes her meme fame would help her earn money for college.


Chloe, aka Side-Eyeing Chloe, earned that name after she and her sister were told of a trip to Disneyland.

Chloe’s sister, Lily, was also seen in the YouTube video titled “Lily’s Disneyland Surprise... AGAIN,” which was uploaded on September 12, 2013. But while Lily cried with happiness at the news, Chloe became famous when she gave the camera a side-eyed stare.

@lilyandchloeofficial / Instagram

Sam Griner became known as the Success Kid meme, but the original concept was entirely different.

In 2007, Lany Griner uploaded the photo of her son to Flickr, and someone wrote a caption that insinuated that Sam didn’t like sandcastles. Naturally, his mom didn’t embrace the concept because her son loved sandcastles. But she prefers the “Success Kid” concept a lot better, even though it embarrasses him.


Michael McGee’s photo became the “Trying to hold a fart next to a cute girl in class” meme.

McGee, aka Redditor user aaduk_ala, posted this photo on March 2, 2014 to the "Funny" subreddit, which became a hit online. But to this day, he regrets that he didn’t copyright the photo because if he had, he feels he could have made some money with it.

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Blake Boston became known as Scumbag Steve after this photo went viral, but he has no regrets.

On January 21, 2011, the image was uploaded on Reddit and was used multiple times for different memes. Boston revealed in an interview with Know Your Meme, that his mom was the one who took the photo, and he doesn’t mind being meme famous.

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Between being a meme and being an actress, Silvia Bottini has fame covered on both ends.

Bottini is an Italian actress who has done films like “Only You,” 2015, and The Uncanny Valley, 2018. But this photo in which she’s balling her eyes out was turned into the First World Problems meme. And it looks like she finally stopped crying.

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Despite the fact that the meme is known as Bad Luck Brian, the guy is named Kyle Craven.

The original photo was taken on January 23, 2012 by a close friend of Craven. That friend also wrote the caption “Takes driving test...gets first DUI." Since then, people have used the photo of the blonde kid with the plaid sweater vest and braces to create all of sorts of hilarious memes.

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