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“DUN DUN” is an onomatopoeic reference to the dramatic sound of echoing gavel frequently used in the popular legal drama series Law & Order. The phrase is often used as text replies to mock or emphasize an even slightly-dramatic event. To a lesser extent, it has been used as a response to any reference to the TV show.
The phrase “Dun Dun” exploded on 4chan’s /b/ board in May 2010 following a moderator’s decision to make the 4chan’s post page display the following screen. On May 24th, 4chan users began ending all of their posts with “DUN DUN” as a reference to the sound effect.
4chan Reference on Law & Order
Several weeks prior to the outbreak of “DUN DUN” on 4chan, a NYPost article was posted revealing that the series finale of Law & Order would be about a school with a bomb threat from a blogger named “moot.” Coincidentally, this is the alias of the founder of 4chan. Despite no known link between the blogger in the show and the moot of 4chan, Law & Order’s finale became a hot topic on 4chan, leading to a stickied thread on the /tv/ board. (NSFW Link).
Throughout the weeks following, a few /b/ posters “confirmed” that there could be some sort of references to the 4chan founder in the anti-school plotline. Whatever the case, there seemed to be no official connections between the fictional and real "moot"s.
Titled “Rubber Room,” the series finale of NBC’s long-running legal drama Law & Order aired on May 24, 2010:
As early as 6:54 PM on May 24, 2010 (and possibly as early as 6:45 PM), users posting on the 4chan forum /b/ were taken to a new “Post Successful” page. The page’s background would turn black; on the bottom, the text, “POST SUCCESSFUL; MONDAY, MAY 24” would appear, along with a sound effect. The small sound clip was a parody of the famous transition used from scene to scene in the show Law & Order, where the screen blacks out, the location and date of the next scene are given, and the sound effect plays. This change to the “Post Successful” page took place the same night of the finale’s airing, three hours and fifteen minutes before the East Coast airing of the show.
The following is a video on YouTube showing this temporary feature:
Barely a minute after the new page was introduced, threads about “DUN DUN” exploded on /b/, primarily Your Face When You Saw X threads asking for reaction pictures that are similar to or exaggerated versions of the users’ reactions to the change. Also, many threads appeared for discussions of the upcoming episode.
Soon, though, users were able to pick out the most exploitable portion of this event: the sound effect.
Not only was it already famous, but the short, simple sound gave users an opportunity to run wild on the boards with the simple onomatopoeia. It wasn’t long before a wave of users were posting on threads, or just posting threads, with only the words “DUN DUN” in the message, and pictures with those words put into them were posted. The majority of the threads posted for several hours afterwards were entirely dedicated to gathering users that only posted “DUN DUN” in their posts.
The following day, although the “Post Successful” page was still there, many threads regarding “DUN DUN” dissolved into ones about being sick of it or not knowing what it was. However, the “DUN DUN” threads still appeared, and random threads still have random users posting “DUN DUN.”
The “DUN DUN Post Successful” page was finally taken down on May 26 (NSFW Link) after many jokes were made about the moderators not changing the date (May 24th) on the bottom.
As it turned out, the moot of 4chan was not in the episode at all. Quickly after the end of the finale, 4chan users quickly dubbed the episode, as well as the hype beforehand, as one of the biggest trolls ever on both 4chan and NBC’s part.
The peak of this meme consisting of the extreme influx of “DUN DUN” threads had an extremely short lifespan. However, this meme could be a huge milestone in memes – it could probably be one of the fastest memes to ever spawn, a new “flash meme” of sorts that comes and before one can fully interpret what is going on, spreading faster than any sort of Internet wildfire ever could. In addition, although it was arguably forced by the moderators, there was no unnatural wordfiltering, as in PUDDI PUDDI or "Row Row Fight the Powah."::http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/row-row-fight-the-powah
In this sense, a more similar phenomenon to “DUN DUN” is HARMONY HARMONY, in that both resulted from the format of the 4chan boards being changed. For additional information on “HARMONY HARMONY,” click here.
Precedents: Dun Dun Dun
Telling the difference between the 4chan phenomenon, “DUN DUN,” and the earlier parodies of the “dramatic movie sound effect” is difficult because the way they are spelled, along with their usage, are essentially the same.
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