I’ll get straight to the point: A lot happened this year. So much, in fact, that we’ve already forgotten a great deal of it.
While there are some cultural moments and internet trends that we’ll never be able to forget, despite how much we’d like to—looking at you, Tiger King—there are plenty of others that either faded as quickly as they appeared or simply feel so far in the past that it’s nearly impossible to believe they happened this year.
Let’s take a look at some of these moments and see how many you remember.
1. The Soleimani assassination
Yes, you might’ve forgotten that we started 2020 on an alarming note that had nothing to do with the then-incubating pandemic. On January 3, a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad assassinated Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, a key player in Iranian intelligence and security. More than anything, you probably remember the reaction to this news on Twitter, which was very much of the panicked, “Uh, did we just like, go to war?” variety. (#WWIII and #WorldWar3 were trending in no time.)
“As news broke that Iranian general Qasem Soleimani had been killed by US forces via targeted airstrike in Baghdad, I wasn’t watching TV. I was on Twitter,” writes @bridgetgillard https://t.co/Pnqpgkzrq0
— The Cut (@TheCut) January 3, 2020
2. Iran shooting down a commercial plane
Barely a week after the Soleimani situation, a Ukranian commercial flight carrying 176 passengers crashed over Iran, killing everyone on board. Shortly thereafter, news broke that Iran admitted to shooting down the plane with a missile because they mistook it for a threat to a nearby sensitive military site. I don’t know about you, but it truly feels like this happened at least three years ago.
The flight recorders from a Ukrainian jet accidentally shot down by Iran on January 8 confirms illegal interference with the plane, according to Ukraine's deputy foreign minister https://t.co/UDAVk7zLgL pic.twitter.com/KXLAvoFiLA
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 24, 2020
3. The “Megxit”
Here’s another early 2020 milestone that feels much further in the past. I remember hearing the word “unprecedented” thrown around a lot surrounding the news that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were stepping back from their roles in the British Royal Family—little did we know how that word would come back to haunt us so shortly thereafter.
4. Donald Trump’s impeachment trial
The U.S. House officially impeached Trump in late December, but the entirety of the trial itself was held in January. Before writing this blog, if you’d asked me when the impeachment happened, I probably would have guessed… last November? That feels right. This year? Nope.
We definitely did not forget about the tragic death of Kobe Bryant—after all, that’s widely considered the first official Bad Thing on the 2020 timeline. But in the aftermath of the accident, people widely adopted the hashtag #GirlDad to celebrate father-daughter relationships in Bryant’s honor, and the fact that this only started in early 2020 is baffling to me. Something about this trend feels timeless, like it’s been around for much longer.
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) January 29, 2020
— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) January 28, 2020
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 28, 2020
6. Large boulder the size of a small boulder
Remember back when tweets just made us laugh and didn’t carry the weight of life or death?
Large boulder the size of a small boulder is completely blocking east-bound lane Highway 145 mm78 at Silverpick Rd. Please use caution and watch for emergency vehicles in the area. pic.twitter.com/EVMmDf0IJu
— San Miguel Sheriff (@SheriffAlert) January 27, 2020
Back in January, “large boulder size of a small boulder” united us and made us remember why we love the internet.
7. JLo and Shakira at the Super Bowl
It’s hard to believe that something as joyful and celebratory as the joint Jennifer Lopez and Shakira Super Bowl halftime show could exist in the same realm as the remainder of 2020, let alone the same year. It also gave us the gif that dominated every Twitter feed for a solid few days before slipping away into the abyss.
— sam as it ever was (@soer_gasm) February 3, 2020
8. “I am once again asking” Bernie
This meme really takes me back to those last few weeks of normality when we were all in a bit of denial about the threat of the coronavirus disrupting our lives. Not only could you not escape this meme template on social media, you also couldn’t watch a single YouTube video without first seeing the ad from which it originated.
— koko (@KokonutRum) January 30, 2020
9. Parasite’s Oscar wins and Bong Joon-ho memes
South Korea’s Parasite dominating at the Oscars was an incredible moment, but the memes that followed were even better. This is the version of 2020 I want to remember.
He make them kiss pic.twitter.com/EckcuLV2f7
— Happy Golden Dais (@thegoodolddais) February 10, 2020
— Kat Cho (hiatus on deadline) (@KatCho) February 10, 2020
please enjoy this gif of bong joon ho giggling at his oscar pic.twitter.com/6ErVC8NEef
— Kathryn VanArendonk (@kvanaren) February 10, 2020
10. Mike Bloomberg’s entire campaign
To be fair, Bloomberg announced his presidential bid in late 2019, but all of the most memorable parts came in 2020. Remember his mass-buy of cringey memes on influencers’ platforms? And the following mass criticism of many of those influencers?
Our own Matthew Ray broke down the absurdity of it all.
11. Shell becoming “She’ll” for International Women’s Day
This is one of those things that we purposefully blocked out of our memories as quickly as possible. Shell changing its name to “She’ll” for a single day at one (!!!) station remains one of the most empty, laughable stunts a big corporation has made in a long time. I’m sorry to make you think about it again, but it very much happened.
At one Shell station in San Dimas, Calif., (just the one) the brand will replace its logo with one saying “She’ll” to mark Sunday’s global day of recognition for women. #InternationalWomensDay https://t.co/9j2y4JLhGu
— Adweek (@Adweek) March 6, 2020
12. Harvey Weinstein going to jail
It was this year, folks. Weinstein’s conviction came right at the beginning of the pandemic. “Ah, finally something good happens!” we said. Sigh.
BREAKING: "Rape is not just one moment. … It is forever." Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years after the women he was convicted of assaulting confront him in court. https://t.co/JnmESxqWcg
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 11, 2020
13. Gal Gadot’s embarrassing “Imagine” video
I need not remind you of this one. Talk about something that dropped like a bomb and then (deservedly) faded into oblivion.
14. That time someone flushed a toilet during a Supreme Court hearing
— Jeremy Art (@cspanJeremy) May 6, 2020
15. The birth of X Æ A-Xii
I feel like this baby should be at least a toddler by now, but he’s only seven months old. Still don’t know how to pronounce his name, though.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 5, 2020
16. Amy Cooper
This one really broke my brain, guys. If you’d asked me when Amy Cooper became a household name for all of the wrong reasons, I would have guessed…I don’t know, maybe October of 2019? Nope. May 2020, baby.
"I'm not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way," Amy Cooper said. "I think I was just scared."
Why were you scared? Why did you fear the Black male?
The heartbeat of racism is denial. The sound of denial: "I'm not a racist." https://t.co/TKDb0j2DWi
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) May 26, 2020
17. Launching American astronauts from America for the first time in a decade
In a rare moment of 2020 optimism, back in May, NASA and SpaceX launched two American astronauts to space from our own turf for the first time since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011 (RIP). The U.S. space program has felt stagnant in recent years, and this was an important first step to getting us to where we really want to go in the next few decades: Mars.
18. The Phoenix Suns going 8-0 in the NBA bubble
I’m including this one a little selfishly. I am a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan, and 2020 contained the one (1) good thing that has happened to the franchise in about a decade. When the NBA finished its season in a COVID-safe bubble in Orlando, the Phoenix Suns, who previously held a record of 26-39 for the season, went a perfect 8-0 against all opponents.
Perfect 8-0 in the bubble for the Suns.
— ESPN (@espn) August 13, 2020
Nobody was more surprised by this than the Suns—especially the person behind their Twitter account.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) August 10, 2020
Me soaking in that I have been able to post “Who’s Next” for 5 games straight. pic.twitter.com/NAma0VQXfB
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) August 9, 2020
The team made the most of it before receiving the most 2020 ending to the story—still not making the Playoffs despite the achievement.
Suns after going 8-0 in the bubble pic.twitter.com/2aLnWf8khp
— Nathan Marzion (@nathanmarzion) August 14, 2020
19. The NYU quarantine meals
Logically, I know and accept that the frenetic TikTok documentation of the laughable (but truly inedible) meals NYU freshmen received during a mandatory two-week quarantine in their dorms happened at the beginning of the 2020 fall college semester.
But the way that it completely took over every TikTok user’s feed for nearly a whole week and then immediately dropped off the radar is wild. What ever happened here? Did someone take responsibility? I hope none of those kids had to pay a dime in meal plans this semester.
20. Philly’s moment in the spotlight
Okay, this one is not even a little bit forgotten. We will always remember the legendary Philly memes of the 2020 election. But a roundup of cultural moments in 2020 would simply be incomplete without it.
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) November 6, 2020
“Miracle in the Mail-In’s”
— Chris Fischer (@ChrisFischer07) November 6, 2020
An Eagles fan will soon have the nuclear codes
— Colleen Wolfe (@ColleenWolfe) November 8, 2020
If this list inspired at least one gasp, rapid Google search, or “time-is-meaningless” existential crisis, then I’ve done my job.
It’s hard to believe that a single year could encompass so much, but we got through it. Here’s to a (hopefully) less chaotic 2021.