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Happy birthday to the GIF: 30 iconic GIFs for 30 years

It’s difficult to imagine a world of communication without the wonder of GIFs, but that’s how people had to live just 30 years ago.

Today, 15 June, is the 30th birthday of the GIF and we thought it an apt time to pool together some of the most iconic looped images in celebration. It’s party time.

Dancing Banana

1 dancing banana

Dancing banana came from web classic Peanut Butter Jelly Time and we owe so much of “random xD” culture to it. A blessing and a curse, but today we love you, banana.

Perfectly looped rap battle

This beautiful GIF feels like its been around since the world’s existence, but somehow only made its way onto the web in 2013. Either way, we’re glad for it.

Citizen Kane slow clap

clapping greyscale

Of all the things Orson Welles expected when he gave us the first ever slow clap in Citizen Kane, using this GIF as a reaction to disgusting puns on Twitter was certainly top of his list. A job well done.

I regret nothing

As a fourteen year old, I loved this GIF. I didn’t know what regret was. Sorry, this is a party. Such fun!

Ally McBeal dancing baby

2 dancing baby

The dancing baby from legal comedy-drama Ally McBeal was one of the first viral videos in the 90s — and honestly, have we topped it yet?

Deal with it

3 sloth deal with it

It’s near impossible to pick just one “Deal with it” GIF, but this is the internet so we figured sloths should be involved somehow. See above image for any complaints.

Shaq and the Cat

One of those GIFs that is better without context. Watching it for ten minutes is considered meditation now.

Britney Spears and Patrick Star

While we’re on the topic of celebrities and animals: here’s a reminder of this GIF of Britney Spears. Her stint on X Factor was iconic in and of itself, but this reaction here takes the cake.

You’re doing amazing sweetie

4 youre doing amazing sweetie

This GIF has been used in still image and text form, but it’s still doing amazing.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Part I

5 fresh prince

You’re not going to be hard pressed to find reaction GIFs from classic sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but Will Smith Breaking the Fourth Wall is always going to get the crowds excited.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Part II

6 fresh prince dance

If you’re searching for GIFs of Fresh Prince, though, it’s probably because you want a dancing react. So here’s Carlson celebrating the 30th birthday of the format that immortalised him.

Judge Judy demands you make it quick

Is there a face more exasperated than the honorable Judge Judy in this GIF? There isn’t — which is why it’s here today, reminding me to move on to my next favourite Judy GIF.

Judge Judy is ashamed by what you posted

7 judge judy

This Judge Judy GIF exists to let you know that your online shenanigans are bad and that you should cease and desist. Trust her. Delete.

Drake is proud of you

This is mostly just motivation for me, the author of this listicle, who is now halfway through 30 GIFs. Thanks, Drake.

Michael Jackson eating popcorn

Michael Jackson loved popcorn and drama that didn’t affect him. Will this GIF survive longer than his musical legacy? Probably not, but time will tell.

No God, Please No!

The-Office-gifs-the-office-14948948-240-196

From season five, episode nine of the US version of The Office, few other GIFs encapsulate fear, unhappiness and fear than Michael Scott’s iconic freak out. Toby Flenderson really was the worst thing to happen to the paper industry.

High five

tumblr_msjsceUnDq1sgl0ajo1_400

Although Barney Stinson was the godfather of the high five, How I Met Your Mother’s Lily and Marshall showed us all how to look damn serious whilst doing it.

Blinking Man

blinking man

Who is this man? Why is he here? Why do I just assume he’s Australian? None of it matters: he’s important.

(But if you really want to know, he’s Drew Scanlon and he’s reacting to a farming pun about hoes.)

Davonne Rogers

If only we could all trot out of work each day with such unabashed glee as Big Bother USA’s Davonne Rogers. What a blessing.

WTF Obama

This GIF seems to work better in 2017 than it ever did during the Obama years. Thanks, Obama.

We otter stick together

As the greatest animals on planet Earth (apart from cats), otters have been immortalised in GIFs in the format’s three decade lifespan. They’re bloody adorable too.

Waka Flocka’s ‘okay’

Nothing brings me more mirth than Waka Flocka reacting to a YouTuber’s graphic comment with a simple judgy “okay.”

Sad Pikachu

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Seriously though, if your Pokemon trainer was turned into stone, you (as a Pikachu, obviously) would also resort to tears. Right?

Jonah Hill’s ‘cut it’

When Emma Stone calls you up to the stage at the Oscars to enjoy a dance…

Conceited’s elusive reaction

A meme that originated from a tweet that contain a GIF that stemmed from a rap battle… it doesn’t get more intertextual than this.

Tanisha Thomas knows

From the same woman who brought you “I didn’t get no sleep ’cause of y’all,” comes a GIF so full of self-realisation it sometimes hurts just to look at. Freud who?

Realising man

There are some secrets Black Twitter will just never divulge, and the origins of this GIF seems to be one of them. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why is he still realising things in 2017? I’m not the person to ask.

Alasia Ballard’s happy cry

When Tyra Banks called Alasia’s name during and episode of America’s Next Top Model, the contestant wept in a way so many understood. Especially those celebrating 30 years of GIFs, like us.

Jenny Slate closes us out

Yes, Jenny. Yes, it is.

Happy birthday, GIFs — and thank you.

Author | Julia Breakey

Julia Breakey
Julia is a UCT film graduate with a passion for dogs, media, and dog-centric media. If she's not gushing about the new television show that you need to watch, she's rewatching The Good Place (which you need to watch). More

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