11 Wildest Viral Moments From 2021 You Already Forgot About
The past year has been a whirlwind, to say the least.
It's been difficult to keep up, quite frankly, with the increasingly frantic news cycle, let alone the countless memes and fleeting trends that seem to come and go each day on social media. In fact, there were so many moments and stories that went viral in 2021 that it's likely you've forgotten about even some of the weirdest, wildest ones!
Do you remember when an influencer went viral for controversy surrounding the way she handles bees? (Yes, bees.) Or how about when Broadway stars and everyday folks alike created an entire musical based on a Pixar movie, just to fill up their free time during quarantine?
Or how about when a former president was permanently banned from Twitter, while another presidential candidate became a meme because he wore mittens? (Both of which happened in just the span of a few days, by the way.)
Below, relive 11 of the wackiest viral stories from 2021 that you might have already forgotten.
Back in March, people were amazed that Prince Philip, 99 at the time, was still up and about. Due to his incredibly old age, Reddit and social media users began to post random everyday things that they believed would provide an instant death blow, such as the notoriously ultra-carbonated Sprite from McDonald’s or Cardi B’s sex-charged “WAP” music video. Looking back, many people now believe the trend was in poor taste as Prince Philip passed away just a month later, on April 9.
LeBrown James was in shock after getting poked in the eye during a basketball game against the Golden State Warriors back in May. During the fourth quarter, he was accidentally poked in the eye by player Draymond Green, and dramatics shortly ensued. (To be fair, his eye really did get injured.) And of course, the moment was instantly memed.
Who could forget Bernie Sanders’ iconic mittens? The politician and activist sparked arguably the first true viral moment of 2021 when he was photographed sitting on a folded chair wearing a winter coat and mittens, his legs crossed as he looked unimpressed and freezing at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration back in January. Within hours, Sanders became a viral sensation on social media with people Photoshopping him into hilariously different situations and environments.
Sanders himself even addressed the viral trend during an interview with Seth Meyers. “I was just sitting there trying to keep warm, trying to pay attention to what was going on,” he explained.
Arguably the most memorable moment from The Weeknd’s Super Bowl LV Halftime Show back in February was when the artist appeared lost and frantic during one of the concert’s set piece performances. Instead of solely performing on the field, his production included a giant mirror maze complete with impersonator-dancers. During one part of the performance, The Weeknd looked like he didn’t know where he was going. The internet had a field day with the frenzied, fleeting moment, which was instantly turned into a popular GIF.
Believe it or not, TikTok’s Ratatouille musical premiered on Jan. 1, 2021. Amid the height of the quarantine in 2020, TikTok creators combined their creativity to create an entire musical based on the fan-favorite Disney/Pixar animated film, which eventually became a special event musical for real. (The viral sensation became so popular that entertainment heavyweights such as Tituss Burgess and Andrew Barth Feldman even joined the cast!) All in all and including the original TikToks, the Ratatouille musical was viewed more than 100 million times.
In January, podcaster Justin McElroy uploaded a Tiktok video using audio from the infamous 2007 Starburst commercial featuring a character named Little Lad singing and dancing about the brand’s at-the-time newest flavor, Berries and Cream. By September, over 75,000 people had used the audio to relive that childhood commercial fever dream. Even the real-life Little Lad, Jack Ferver, joined TikTok and dressed up as their iconic character.
In late August, Alabama Patrol Lieutenant Eric Fields of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office went viral for looking like the doppelgänger of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Social media went wild with comparisons of the two, dubbing Fields Dwayne “The Cop” Johnson. Even The Rock himself couldn’t believe the resemblance (they share a similar tattoo!). The actor said he wants to have a drink with Fields one day soon.
Remember when bees took over TikTok? Over the summer, TikTok user @TexasBeeWorks, real name Erika Thompson, was accused of fraud and allegedly unsafe bee-handling practices, among other controversies. Members of the beekeeping community accused her of staging some of her popular “bee rescues,” as well as promoting unsafe practices to her millions of followers.
It was a long time coming, but former president Donald Trump was officially banned from Twitter on Jan. 8, just two days after he was accused of inciting the riots at the Capitol on Jan. 6. In a statement, Twitter announced that Trump would be permanently suspended due to “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Back in September, TikTok user @laurenzarras went viral after sharing a video of her surprising her boyfriend Robbie with a visit to him at college. In the clip, Robbie, who could be seen sitting on a couch next to two other girls, seemed to have a delayed reaction to his girlfriend’s surprise. Based on his reaction and the somewhat shady laughter of his friends in the video, TikTok users quickly began to share theories that Robbie was unappreciative of his girlfriend or perhaps even being unfaithful when she surprised him. The video went viral both on and off the app for its many supposed red flags.
Back in April, Demi Lovato went viral after going to a frozen yogurt shop in Los Angeles called The Bigg Chill. Afterward, they blasted the family-owned business on social media for offering sugar-free cookies and “diet options” that they called “triggering and awful.” The business explained that they simply offer inclusive options for customers who may be diabetic, have gluten allergies, are vegan or have other dietary needs. Despite their response, Lovato told them to “do better,” though the singer was soon dragged online for essentially misunderstanding the shop’s menu in bad faith.
Lovato eventually apologized but not before thousands of memes were created surrounding the controversy.