Editor’s Note: This article is part of Know Your Meme’s Top 10 Review looking back at some of the most memorable and popular memes, events and people that defined the Internet culture in 2012 as we know it. And brace yourselves, the grand finale list Best Memes of 2012 is coming soon!
Though fandoms have been around since the days of Star Trek, many fandoms surrounding a variety of media including bands, video games, television shows, movies and webcomics flourished on the web. Though we cannot cover them all, we must give an honorable mention to the following:
- Sherlockians, who found out Martin Freeman knows about the fandom inside joke about Watson wearing red underpants
- Katawa Shoujo players, who were unexpectedly inundated with feels for the disabled girls in the visual novel
- Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, who got their own social network this year.
- Community fans who fought for #sixseasonsandamovie and are awaiting season four
- and finally, Star Wars fans, for coping with the Disney buyout.
Now, on to the list!
#10: One Direction
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- About:Despite coming in third in the 2010 season of The X Factor, this British-Irish boy band found global fame this year, thanks to its viral online marketing campaign starring an obsessive superfan known 1DCyberpunk. As of November 2012, they have sold more than 15 million albums and have won 3 MTV Video Music Awards.
- Online Presence: These handsome young lads are known for interacting with their fans on Twitter, where they receive more than a quarter of a million tweets per day, as well as on Tumblr, where there are more than 500,000 blogs dedicated to them as of July 2012. In just under 2 months, the microblogging site saw six million posts about the band after the announcement of their tour in the United States. The fandom is not impervious to controversy, though: fans who ship “Larry Stylinson” (the bromance between members Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson) are often the subject of Anonymous hate messages.
- Fandom Nickname: Directioners
- Pop Culture Benchmark: Google Trends | (One Direction > Jonas Brothers > Hanson = Backstreet Boys)
#9: Lil B
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- About: Lil B is the stage name of Brandon McCartney, a California-based rapper who has released six albums and 37 mixtapes since rising to viral fame in 2009. He is also known as the Based God, a term allegedly associated with crack abuse but now it means something like maximum swagger. To Lil B, “based” means being yourself, living positively and not being afraid to do the things you want to do.
- Online Presence: Online, Lil B used social networking to share his positive vibes as well as his music and videos. In April, he gave a sold-out eighty-minute lecture at New York University where he spoke about loving each other and being careful about the power people give to otherwise meaningless words.
- Fandom Nickname: Bitch Mob or Task Force
#8: Breaking Bad
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- About: Breaking Bad is an AMC television drama that follows the life of crime that high school chemistry teacher Walter White turns to after he is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Using his chemistry skills, White collaborates with former student Jesse Pinkman launching a meth empire as a way to ensure his family will have money after his death. Since its premiere in January 2008, the drama has won seven primetime Emmy Awards.
- Online Presence: This year, Breaking Bad launched an official GIF blog as a way to hype the first half of final season, which premiered in July. After the satellite company Dish dropped AMC right before the premiere, execs chose to livestream the first episode for those customers. On Reddit, ten cast and crew members related to the show have taken part in AMA (Ask Me Anything) threads.
- Pop Culture Benchmark: Google Trends | (True Blood > Weeds > The Wire > Breaking Bad)
#7: Game of Thrones
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- About: This HBO medieval fantasy series revolves around the violent struggle that surrounds the control of the Iron Throne. Based on the _ A Song of Ice and Fire_ series of novels by George R. R. Martin, the show is known for the compelling characters and high production value, as well as its extremely violent scenes.
- Online Presence: The second season, which premiered in April, had approximately 1000 more viewers per episode than the first thanks in part to a thorough social media campaign. Online, fans have used the characters in image macros and poorly drawn MS Paint renditions while many YouTubers have covered the theme song on different instruments. The series also has several active forums discussing both the show and the books and fans have been known to partake in the foods and language of the Dothraki race.
- Fandom Nickname: Brotherhood Without Banners, the Bookwalkers (for those who have read the books) or the Unsullied (for those who only watch the show)
- Pop Culture Benchmark: Google Trends | (Supernatural > Game of Thrones > The Vampire Diaries > Boardwalk Empire)
#6: The Hunger Games
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- About: The Hunger Games is the film adaptation of a sci-fi trilogy written by Suzanne Collins that weave the tale of a post-apocalyptic universe where teens between the age of 12 and 18 are chosen to fight to the death in a televised event. Released in March, the film broke both opening day and opening weekend records for any standalone feature, becoming the thirteenth largest-grossing domestic movie in history.
- Online Presence: Prior to the movie’s release, the book series already had an established fan base with Tumblr fan blogs galore. Following the release of the movie, fans took to social networks to complain after seeing the actress chosen to play Rue, Amandla Stenberg, had dark skin, despite her being described that way in the novels.
- Fandom Nickname: Tributes
- Pop Culture Benchmark: Google Trends | (Survivor > The Hunger Games > Lord of the Flies > Battle Royale)
#5: Mass Effect
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- About: Mass Effect is a science fiction role playing game trilogy featuring fully voiced acted cinematic cut scenes and 3D action sequences. Developed by BioWare, the series follows Commander Shepard, who can be played as a male or female, as he or she fights a race of artificially intelligent machines from deep space determined to destroy organic life.
- Online Presence: In March 2012, the much-anticipated third and final game in the series was released. However, the cinematic ending was the same no matter what choices the players made throughout the game, leading to much disappointment within the fandom. BioWare was flooded with complaints as the web saw a deluge of image macros and reaction videos critiquing the three endings, only differing by the color of the final explosion. This outcry from fans led to BioWare releasing an extended cut of the game in June.
#4: The Avengers
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- About: The Avengers film was released in April with five character-specific films preceding it. It follows the super heroes Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, the Black Widow and Captain America as they battle Thor’s brother, Loki, for control over the earth. The film currently holds the top spot on the list of largest opening weekends in the U.S. and Canada since 2002, taking in more than $207 million.
- Online Presence: Fans of the Avengers were able to grow attached to the characters through the five films relating to Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. Online, fans have made a myriad of parodies and tributes via image macros, art and video. On Tumblr specifically, fans grew attached to Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) who can often be found in reaction GIFs and fan art throughout the site.
- Pop Culture Benchmark: Google Trends | (X-Men > The Avengers > Fantastic Four = The Incredibles)
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- About: Andrew Hussie’s interactive webcomic, launched in April 2009, incorporates chatlogs, GIFs, 8-bit games, and elaborate flash movies to further its story about four internet friends playing a one-of-a-kind video game called Sburb. As the story progresses, the reader meets a variety of different groups and species who are playing similar versions of the game as each realizes the fate of their world is at stake. And that’s just scraping the surface.
- Online Presence: Despite the comic’s complex layers of story lines and characters, the series has gained a cult status on Tumblr and other webcomic communities, leading to a large amount of fan works following long hiatuses or immediately following updates to the comic. In February 2012, Homestuck gained its most famous fan: actor Dante Basco, best known as Rufio from the 1991 movie Hook, who chronicled his reactions on Tumblr and Twitter. In April, several Tumblr-based fans launched project to create an anime-style cartoon based on the show. The fandom’s most famous achievement, however, was raising more than $2.4M in a Kickstarter campaign that was launched in September to fund a video game based on the comic’s universe.
- Fandom Nickname: Homestucks
#2: Doctor Who
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- About: Doctor Who, the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, follows the adventures of the titular Time Lord as his travels through space and time with a variety of human companions to help save the world from various alien races trying to destroy it.
- Online Presence: Though the show has been a cult favorite for decades, this year, the fandom grew exponentially thanks to an active presence on social networking sites, allowing fans to interact directly with the show and its stars, including a live Q&A session with the actors who play The Doctor (Matt Smith) and his new companion, Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) conducted via a Tumblr tag.
- Fandom Nickname: Whovians
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- About: This series of fantasy romance novels focuses on a love triangle between an awkward young girl named Bella Swan, vampire Edward Cullen, and werewolf Jacob Black. The four novels, written by Stephenie Meyer, were given a series of film adaptations which, along with merchandise sales, have made more than $5.7B globally since 2005.
- Online Presence: Teens and moms alike have always loved these characters, but the fandom was pushed into a new direction after the popularity of the novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Originally posted online as a Twilight fanfiction titled “Master of the Universe”, E. L. James re-edited the story to make it a new work of fiction. Additionally, to the dismay of fans everywhere, 2012 marked the release of the final film in the series. Following its release, actor Robert Pattinson, who played Edward Cullen throughout the films, made another splash in November after openly expressing his distaste for the series in media interviews.
- Fandom Nickname: Twihards