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Bad Luck Brian is an image macro series featuring a photo of a blonde teenage boy wearing a plaid sweater vest and braces, accompanied by captions that describe a variety of embarrassing and tragic occurrences.
On January 23rd, 2012, the first Quickmeme submission was uploaded with the caption “Takes driving test / gets first DUI” (below left). It was subsequently posted to Reddit where it received less than 5 up votes. Later that day, another macro was posted to Reddit with the caption “Tries to stealthily fart in class / shits” (below right) which reached the front page of the /r/adviceanimals subreddit accumulating over 3,300 up votes in less than 2 months.
On January 29th, 2012, a collection of notable examples were posted on the digital marketing blog Twenty Something. On March 12th, the series saw a resurgence in popularity when Redditor Very_Juicy submitted a macro to the /r/adviceanimals subreddit with the caption “Falls asleep in class / wet dream.” Within one week the post had received more than 2,900 up votes.
On March 19th, this instance was reposted to humor site 9gag where it received more than 48,000 likes within 24 hours. The same post was subsequently pinned on the social photo sharing website Pinterest the same day. Later that month, additional collections were hosted on Buzzfeed and Funny or Die.
The series has continued to spread on sites like FunnyJunk, Tumblr and the /r/adviceanimals subreddit. As of June 2012, the Quickmeme page has received more than 104,047 submissions. Several Facebook pages have also been created for the character, with the largest having more than 29,000 likes and the second having more than 24,000.
Like other advice animals Bear Grylls and College Freshman, a caption trend arose in which the text on the bottom remains consistent. After the “Tries to stealthily fart in class / shits” macro was submitted to Reddit, many other derivatives were produced with “shits” as the bottom caption.
Many examples in the series describe embarrassing situations involving sexuality, bodily functions or current events.
On April 11th, 2012, a Redditor claiming to be Bad Luck Brian attempted to do an AMA thread in the Ask Me Anything subreddit, but the thread was removed. The moderator who removed the post left a lengthy comment explaining why, which received more than 35,000 downvotes, making it one of the most downvoted comments on Reddit of all time. Redditor coyotecarl came back on May 8th with an AMA thread on the Advice Animals subreddit. The post received 24,722 upvotes and 2017 points overall.
During the thread, he revealed his name is Kyle and the photo was taken as his seventh grade school photo, but the principal made him take it over again because he was under the impression Kyle was making the face on purpose. Over the course of the 3763 comments, Redditors quickly made Bad Luck Brian instances based on stories Kyle told. He also stated that he’s had relatively good luck in his life, once winning an XBox 360 and a PSP within two weeks (below left), he was recognized by actor Seth Rogen in public (below center) and played the hand chimes. (below right)
Search query volume for “bad luck brian” picked up in January of 2012, the same month the first Quickmeme submissions were created.