Why So Serious?
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"Why So Serious?" is a memorable quote uttered by The Joker (played by Heath Ledger) from the 2008 superhero film The Dark Knight. As the film received widespread acclaim, the catchphrase began seeing use in memes, fan art and other internet culture where fans would draw The Joker's face over themselves, celebrities and other individuals with "Why so serious?" overlaid on top of the image.
Before the film had even come out, the line was already being used as a marketing campaign in promos and advertisements. This included the creation of whysoserious.com in May 2007, which gave hints and clues about The Joker's persona and plans for Gotham CIty. Several similar sites were made, mostly featuring images with The Joker's face drawn over them and his familiar handwriting scrawled over what was originally there. On July 18th, 2008, The Dark Knight was released and additional memes using the phrase followed shortly after.
In the original scene referenced in memes online, mob leader Gamble is confronted by The Joker in his hideout and held at knifepoint. The Joker then goes on to tell him the story of how he got his scars when he utters the line, "Why so serious?" (seen below).
You wanna know how I got these scars?
My father was a drinker, and a fiend.
One night, he goes off crazier than usual.
Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself.
He doesn't like that.
Not. One. Bit.
So, me watching, he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it.
He turns to me and he says, "Why So Serious?"
He comes at me with the knife, "Why So Serious!?"
Sticks the blade in my mouth, "Let's put a smile on that face!"
Why so serious?
The exact first use of the scene and quote in a meme is unknown, but various sites on YTMND that appeared in 2008 were among the earliest examples.
As the film's popularity grew, so did its use in memes, remixes and fan art. In July 2008, searches for "Why So Serious" spiked across the web. The phrase began to pop up on imageboards, used in the same context as U Mad?. Users would bring it up as a response to other users whose questions or comments were overly serious or uptight. Urban Dictionary defines "Why so serious?" as "A quote from the Joker in The Dark Knight, turned into an internet fad/meme. Usually used on angry, emotional people who tend to go overboard or not understand jokes."
On September 28th, 2008, YouTuber Henriqvist uploaded a CGI tribute of Joker with the scene reenacted, receiving over 453,000 views, 3,600 likes and 640 comments in roughly 12 years (seen below, left). On April 19th, 2011, YouTuber Tim Timsen uploaded another remake of the video with a lip-dub version depicting Mark Hamill's Joker from the Batman Animated Series, receiving over 1.9 million views, 34,000 likes and 225 comments in 10 years (seen below, right).
Y So Srs?
The phrase "Y So Srs?" began to trend around the same time the movie released in summer 2008. Though not as prominent, the lolspeak version of the famous line became popular in places like 4chan, DeviantArt and FurAffinity. In these variants, popular memes or internet characters were photoshopped to look like The Joker with the quote alongside an image, such as Serious Cat in a Demotivational Poster (shown below).
 Why So Serious (via Wayback Machine) – Why So Serious Website
 YTMND – C'mon Smile
 YTMND – Dr. Cox: 'Why So Serious?'
 YTMND – Why So Cereal?
 YTMND – A New Addition To The Joker's Gang
 YouTube – Why So Serious? CGI Joker
 YouTube – Why so serious? – Mark Hamill Impression
 Urban Dictionary – Why So Serious Definition
Sep 10, 2012 at 05:20PM EDT
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