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This article was published on August 21, 2015

GIFstory: The origins of the Internet’s weirdest GIFs unveiled

GIFstory: The origins of the Internet’s weirdest GIFs unveiled
Lauren Hockenson
Story by

Lauren Hockenson


Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. Lauren is a reporter for The Next Web, based in San Francisco. She covers the key players that make the tech ecosystem what it is right now. She also has a folder full of dog GIFs and uses them liberally on Twitter at @lhockenson.

Here at TNW, we’re right in the thick of the summer doldrums — the slow time in the summer that reminds us that startups are run by humans that take vacations sometimes. So in the downtime, I decided to do a little homework surrounding the go-to GIFs populating the newsroom Slack Channel.

So I give you GIFstory: a weekly feature where we find the story behind your favorite GIFs!

Here are the stories behind four of the Internet’s GIFs.

That’s Racist Kid


Yes, this kid is actually saying, “That’s Racist!” It’s an interstitial from ‘Wonder Showzen,’ a sketch comedy program on MTV2 in the mid-2000s that appeared to be a parody of a children’s educational show, like ‘Sesame Street,’ but substituting lessons on how to count or tie your shoes with ridiculous gore and black comedy. Fun fact: one of the creators is the voice of Towelie from ‘South Park’!

Specifically, the GIF comes from the second episode of ‘Wonder Showzen’s’ first season, entitled, “Space,” after a cartoon sketch called ‘Plastic Surgeons without Borders.’ The sketch is a reality show which involves two handsome white plastic surgeons offering cheek implants and the like to residents of wartorn countries.

The GIF is cut off at the part of the interstitial where a hairball/asteroid object flies out of his mouth.

Here’s the original interstitial video:

Cupcake Dog


This dog is fighting the urge to engulf an entire plate of cupcakes, and his struggle is visibly real. That dog, named Staines, is the ill-behaved subject of Animal Planet show ‘It’s Me or the Dog.’ The show, which began in the UK in 2005 with a US spinoff in 2008, shows dog trainer Victoria Stilwell aiding in the training of exasperated families’ problem dogs.

If you can’t tell from the context of the GIF, Staines, who appeared in the US episode “No Small Problem,”  loves food. His owners, Shelby and Craig, complained that he often hopped onto counters and tables to eat to his heart’s content. However, when Stilwell teaches him the “Away” command, he learns how to control it. Thus, this GIF was born.

Staines’ performance earned him ‘Entertainer of the Year’ on the 2009 awards episode of US comedy television clip show ‘The Soup.’

Here’s the original scene:

Thumbs-Up Horse


Believe it or not, the horse you see above has a name. It is Mrs. Johnson. She is a recurring character in the world of Youtube filmmaker Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell, wearing a lacy dress and exclaiming, “I love it!”

This particular sighting of Mrs. Johnson is at the end of “Coming Out,” a sketch involving TomSka as well as fellow Youtube filmmaker Jack Howard. In the skit, Howard has a compulsion to announce that he is gay to a room full of people although he is heterosexual. It escalates to the point where both TomSka and Howard end up at the altar together and…well…you know the rest.

Here’s the clip (Mrs. Johnson enters at the 2:24 mark):

“Nope” Cat


We’ll never know what this cat saw or heard to make it forget it has four legs, but I can tell you where it comes from. This short clip is actually a Russian video, which its title roughly translates to “Cat Left” or “Cat Gone.” It was posted four years ago by Youtube user teakdc, who has never posted a video since. The video in it’s original form has been viewed more than 18 million times.

Although that’s where the origin story stops, the footage of “Cat Gone” was also posted to LiveLeak, a video site that posts a variety of content, including graphic content, so watch at your own risk. That LiveLeak video turned into another Youtube video meme, Thriller Cat. That particular video has been viewed more than six million times.

Here’s the original video:

Do you have a favorite GIF with mysterious origins? Feel free to email us at [email protected] We’ll come back with a fresh batch next week.

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