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GIFs that kept on giving: The year’s best bite-sized animations

2012 was a year for the books, you guys. Things happened! Some were earth-shaking. Some… not so much. But we made it to the end, 2013 is within our grasp, and that’s something to be excited about. Congrats, everybody! And what better way to celebrate and remember 2012 than in the year’s best animated GIFs? After all, GIF won Oxford’s coveted (by whom I can’t say…) Word of the Year title after nearly drowning the internet in, well, this…

You know what I mean. They were everywhere you looked, it was impossible to get away from them. GIFs moved way beyond the Reddit Mob and onto The Atlantic and The New York Times. They’re a bonafide part of our cultural lexicon now. And, really, we can all thank God it beat YOLO for Word of the Year (I don’t want to live in a world where that could happen). So, even though this list is almost impossible to cull, here are some of the best GIFs of 2012.


And let’s start by doing a little dance, starring Chandler Bing on anything you can think of. See, in so many ways, the GIF is concentrated nostalgia, slurped down like instant Internet coffee. And the perfect example of that is the Dancing Chandler GIF that made the rounds. It’s fun, it’s random, and it’s everywhere despite the fact that this particular Chandler moment was lifted right out of 1998. The GIF is emblematic of our copy-paste culture, our desire to remix elements of everything in media and poke fun at it ironically. And… well, really who doesn’t watch Friends? You’re lying if you say you don’t. 

And then there was Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I mean, what do you say to that? It’s almost hypnotic. I can’t look away. 


Adele had 2012 wrapped around her finger. She won six Grammys, tied only with Beyonce for most Grammys won by a female artist in a single night. She was named Billboard’s artist of the year. And Time named her one of the most influential people in the world. Not bad, Adele. Not bad.


Tiny Fey photobombed Amy Poehler so hard at the Golden Globes this year, and they still both look so glamorous. And the best part? They’re co-hosting the Golden Globes next year — along with Louis C.K. (who also had an incredible year, by the way). I’d like them to co-host my life.


The 2012 London Olympics brought everyone together to witness the spectacle of international athletes vying for the gold in everything from swimming to biking to, of course, gymnastics. And here is Mikayla Maroney absolutely crushing it with this perfect vault.


These guy are absolutely killing it — and representing Lakers fans everywhere so, so well, down to the backwards caps and sunglasses worn indoors. Indoor sunglasses were a thing in 2012. It’s true. 


And Kate Upton happened, having made the cover of Sports Illustrated after debuting only a year ago. But here she is best appreciated as bringing a two-year-old song featuring Chris Brown back into prominence. That’s my answer and I’m sticking to it. Just. I don’t even know. Try not to stare. 


Lana del Rey, unfortunately, didn’t have quite as impressive a showing. She kind of lost her luster after her disappointing and oft-mocked debut on SNL last year and the mixed reaction her first album received. But! She did get GIF’d pretty hard, and, much like Dancing Chandler, you could eventually see her everywhere. It didn’t help that a Tumblr was eventually devoted to Spinning Lana del Rey.


In late October, Hurricane Sandy, a perfect storm the likes of which the Eastern seaboard had never seen, ravaged homes and ruined lives on a scale that many are still reeling from. Scores were killed and millions were left without power for weeks, facing the oncoming winter cold with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

But the relief efforts that followed — people donating money, food, and their time to help the victims — showed Americans rising to the occasion. And of course, there was this guy.

Right on, America. Right on. He is a hero.


Still, this year was the year of Gangnam Style. It is the God-meme this year, completely inescapable and utterly infectious. Someone somewhere this very instant is doing the dance. You know it’s true. Even in a galaxy far far away.

It definitely infected election season.



All in all, 2012 was kind of a big deal. The first African-American president was re-elected, signaling a demographic shift that is already changing American politics in a tangible way.

We witnessed a man fall from space in real-time.

We even averted the apocalypse. What more do you want? It’s been real, 2012. Thanks for the memories. They will live on in GIF form for the Internet to keep on appreciating — can’t wait to see what 2013 brings. 

Kwame Opam
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kwame graduated from Stony Brook University with BA in Anthropology and has a Masters in Media Studies. He's done stints at…
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