The Floor is Lava (also known as "Hot Lava ") is a game in which players pretend that the floor is lava and proceed to climb on furniture or other objects to keep their feet off the ground. The game has been referenced in many web comics and image macros where people and animals appear to be trying to avoid touching the ground.
The earliest known variation of the game can be found in the 1948 short story The Wish by Roald Dahl, which features a child who imagines the carpet as red hot coals and dangerous snakes. On October 6th, 2002, the webcomic Toothpaste For Dinner uploaded a comic featuring a man standing on a table with the caption "The floor is made of lava!"
On April 25th, 2004, the character Homer in the animated television series The Simpsons yelled "the floor is made of lava!" in the episode "Catch 'Em If You Can." On February 4th, 2008, MetaFilter user 23skidoo submitted a post titled "When did boys start pretending the floor is made of lava?", to which several commenters cited the Dahl story as the origin of the meme. On May 3rd, 2010, the webcomic xkcd published a comic titled "Floor", which featured a comic showing stick figures playing an extreme version of the children's game.
On May 12th, 2011, the online retailer Busted Tees released a t-shirt with a caution sign with the words "The Floor is Lava" printed on the front (shown below, left). On November 7th, the game "The Floor Is Lava" was released by Driftwood Software in which the player solves puzzles to avoid falling into lava (shown below, right).
On February 10th, 2012, Kongregate users orandze and ktluvsice published a flash game titled "The Floor is Lava", in which the player must jump to avoid touching the lava floor. Several Facebook page referencing the game have been created, including "Pretending the Floor is Hot Lava" "I played 'the floor is hot lava!' game when I was a kid" and
In Stand-up Comedy
The comedian Daniel Tosh referenced the game in a joke about playing the game as a substitute for expensive video games that his family could not afford. The comedian Patton Oswalt referenced the game in a joke about his views about respecting anti-marijuana legislation.
#TheFloorIsLavaChallenge is a social game spread via hashtag in which two people play a variation of The Floor Is Lava game. In the variation, one person yells "The Floor Is Lava!" and the other person has five seconds to get off the ground by getting on top of something or they fail the challenge. On May 29th, 2017, Instagram personalities Kevin Freshwater and Jahannah James both posted video compilations of times they gave the challenge to each other that gained over 78,000 and 168,000 views, respectively (YouTube embed shown below).
The challenge spread on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter over the following weekend, as people posted videos of themselves performing the challenge and tagged a friend. As of June 2nd, there are over 6,300 posts on Instagram under the hashtag #thefloorislava. Several compilation videos of the challenge have been posted to YouTube as well. The most popular, by Ultimate Challenge Compilation, has over 53,000 views (shown below). The challenge has been covered by The Daily Dot, Mic, and Daily Mail.