- Rick Astley’s biking photo became one of the most upvoted Reddit posts with over 438,000 upvotes and 19,100 comments.
- A post about Chancellor Palpatine from Star Wars aimed to trick Google search results and gained over 426,000 upvotes.
- A Times Square billboard post on r/wallstreetbets received more than 477,000 upvotes and 13,900 comments.
- A flat Earth conspiracy debunking post on r/memes earned over 388,000 upvotes.
- A post exposing scripted news from Sinclair Broadcast Group gained over 296,000 upvotes and 11,400 comments.
For better or worse, Reddit is one of the most used message boards online and the world has a love/hate relationship with the self-proclaimed front page of the internet. If you have never been to Reddit, it’s essentially a place where you can submit text posts, articles, news, images, and videos, which are then voted on (up or down) by other members of Reddit. Every post goes into what is known as a subreddit, which is a user-created board designed around the discussion of a specific topic.
As of February 2023, Reddit was the 10th most visited website in the world and the sixth most visited website in the United States. Its popularity and ability to make something — anything — go viral is almost unmatched in the history of the internet. First launched in 2005, it’s unsurprising there are some incredibly popular Reddit threads that have stood the test of time and are still discussed across social media and Reddit itself to this day.
Let’s take a look at the 10 best Reddit threads of all time.
What Makes a Reddit Thread Popular?
Ideally, to have a thread be considered popular on Reddit is to have it achieve a significant number of upvotes so as to have it make the front page. Once a post is on the front page, the sky’s the limit if Redditors gravitate to the post and continue upvoting. The more a post is upvoted, the longer it will stay on the Reddit.com front page and gain more upvotes.
In addition, to have a Reddit post go popular, it has to resonate with the readers and or subscribers of the subreddit it’s being posted in. For example, a post about a cute dog is unlikely to gain any real momentum if it’s posted on r/music, unless the dog is playing an instrument. Instead, this post could go in r/aww where the audience is interested in cute pet pictures and will upvote ones they like.
#1: Rick Astley Biking
Anyone who knows Rick Astley knows how popular Rickrolling became after it first gained mainstream attention in 2008. Because of Rickrolling, Rick Astley saw his own resurgence in popularity as part of the cultural zeitgeist. As his popularity grew, so too has his influence on Reddit, where he has been a contributor over the last decade.
Well, during the pandemic lockdown in 2020, Rick showed the strength of his fame by posting a single photo of himself biking backstage while on tour in Las Vegas in 1989. Posted right around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Reddit thread earned more than 438,000 upvotes along with 19,100 comments, making it one of the most upvoted Reddit posts of all time.
In fact, it’s so popular, the moderators of the r/pics subreddit where the post lives had to lock comments and votes as they could not keep up.
#2: Chancellor Palpatine
With more than 426,000 upvotes, this hilarious post out of r/movies ranks as one of the best Reddit threads of all time. The misunderstood Chancellor Palpatine who just wanted to bring peace to the galaxy is also the source of some internet trickery.
The intent of the post by Reddit user u/serventofgaben was to upvote this picture of Chancellor Palpatine in order to trick Google into providing it as part of any search results around The Senate.
Unfortunately, a cursory glance at Google shows this effort didn’t quite land as intended, but this Reddit user gets an A for effort. For a long time, it stood as the second most upvoted Reddit post until it was passed by Joe Biden being elected President and a random billboard in Times Square, New York City.
#3: Times Square Billboard
While it was always a large community of retail investors coming together to talk about the market, the popularity of r/wallstreetbets has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. The subreddits’ ability to manipulate stocks like GameStop (GME to the moon!) or AMC has been well-documented over the last few years online and even through documentaries airing on Netflix and HBO.
This particular r/wallstreetbets post is one of the most upvoted posts ever with more than 477,000 upvotes and over 13,900 comments. Essentially, the post is a quick video highlighting one Redditor’s desire to see the stock of Gamestop go up.
As anyone familiar with r/wallstreetbets could quickly guess, this post took off like a rocket with upvotes pouring in by the minute and eventually landing it as one of the best Reddit threads of all time.
#4: A Flat Earth Story
Earning more than 388,000 upvotes since it was posted three years ago, this r/memes post is a prime example of what Reddit does so well. Ultimately, this is a positive story as it tells the tale of a YouTuber who previously believed in the belief that the Earth is flat and his eventual turn toward reality. Posting nothing more than a picture, the image itself tells the whole tale without any extra context.
The main idea here is that this YouTuber is shown over time going from a full-blown conspiracy theorist to someone who completely denies his previous beliefs. What makes this a true Reddit image is the right-hand side of the picture where it shows a clown putting on makeup in reverse.
In true Reddit fashion, the clown is shown in full makeup at the most serious conspiracy moment and without any makeup when the YouTuber comes clean about no longer believing his previous identity as a “flat earther.”
#5: Scripted News
More than 296,000 upvotes have helped drive this post into the history books as one of the most memorable and best Reddit threads of all time. The video itself is an edited cut of dozens of Sinclair Broadcast Group news stations, one of the largest television operators in the United States, all using the exact same script. The r/videos thread was posted to highlight how dangerous it is when one company owns too many news stations.
Redditors jumped on the quote from the video that stated This is extremely dangerous to our democracy and highlighted how these news hosts are unwittingly playing into everything they are trying to speak against.
Over 11,400 comments all pretty much touch on the same point about how dangerous the standardization of media can be. It’s likely that when many people think of Reddit they think of memes or posts like r/wallstreetbets, but it’s this post that shows why Reddit is so incredibly powerful in shaping the online conversation.
#6: Guardians of the Meme
This Guardians of the Front Page meme is easily one of the best Reddit threads of all time as it reminds Redditors of the unspoken rule about not reposting GIFs. In this case, you’re looking at a r/funny post that quickly gained more than 284,000 upvotes and 5,000 comments.
Serving as a reminder to all of Reddit, the hope is to remind Redditors not to upvote on a repost of any post that is already gaining traction. As the pinnacle of Reddit is getting to the front page, having upvotes is the foremost way to do so, which means reposts are all too common.
Ultimately, this laugh-out-loud funny meme takes a scene from Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and adds on-screen text to remind Reddit that upvoting reposts is a big no-no. The text on the screen is near perfectly placed and includes three beloved characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including everyone’s favorite tree, is just icing on the cake.
#7: Teaching New Gamers
If you have ever played tech support for someone in your life, you will definitely empathize with this r/gaming Reddit thread. As one of the best Reddit threads of all time, this image highlights what everyone feels as they try and teach someone how to play something new.
Most importantly, it highlights the significant level of patience required from anyone to try and teach something to someone that has already been mastered. In this case, it’s a video game, but it could be applicable to any type of tech support.
It’s an absolutely hilariously accurate look at how much we have to balance frustration and being patient with someone we know and love. Clearly, this resonated with the rest of Reddit as the post earned more than 269,000 upvotes and 3,600 comments before being archived over four years ago. Sometimes, pictures really are worth a thousand words.
#8: Where Did the Headrests Go?
So, this is a really interesting choice among the best Reddit threads as it’s likely something you’ve seen but never really noticed. Posted in r/memes, the image was created out of a quick scene in Disney’s 2009 remake of Race to Witch Mountain starring Dwayne Johnson.
The focal point of the meme is around the idea that in a movie scene taking place in a car, headrests are removed between the front and back seats so you can see the actors better. Except, there is a good chance you never noticed this as taking place, so the shock on Dwayne Johnson’s face is all of us.
In total, this post acquired more than 287,000 upvotes and 1,800 plus comments. Among the most upvoted comments is a call out that with or without headrests, the actors conveniently never get neck injuries either, which is truly something that needs to be looked at more closely in movies.
#9: Cab Drivers Calendar
If there was ever a post that exemplifies everything that makes Reddit great, it’s this r/funny post about an NYC cab driver calendar. Posted five years ago, the passenger snapped a photo of the 2018 calendar where his cab driver had the honor of being the cover photo.
It’s a very funny picture of the driver laying on what appears to be the hood of a cab while licking a lollipop shirtless. It’s worth emphasizing again that this is the kind of content Reddit lives and breathes for.
Well, the Redditors’ work paid off as more than 308,000 people upvoted this post with a ton of congratulatory posts for the driver among the 2,500 plus comments. It’s unclear if any of the comments were ever discovered by the cab driver but we can only hope he was able to see and read all of the praise for his pose and proud smile.
#10: Froggy Bath
Like so many Reddit posts that defy the odds of making the front page, this simple GIF of a small frog jumping into a bottle cap has earned more than 324,000 upvotes. The backstory from the poster is that it was a heat index of 110 degrees outside, so they were trying to offer the frog a little bit of respite from the heat with some cold water. Instead, the front went for a full-on soak and walked right into the bottle cap to rest in the cold water.
This is a combination of adorable and wow, and it comes as no surprise the audience in r/aww found this a worthy post to upvote.
Among the 4,200 comments are plenty of people giving the frog praise for trusting the person holding the bottle cap enough to take the metaphorical leap. There was a raging debate about whether this was a life-saving move or not, but it really doesn’t matter as it shows people and animals are all in this battle against the elements together.
Ever since Reddit first launched, it has truly grown into its tagline of being the front page of the internet. Tens of thousands of viral memes, gifs, and news can all be traced back to any number of popular or even relatively unknown subreddits.
As there is a subreddit for just about anything you can think of, the likelihood that Reddit continues its streak as the origin of many social media conversations remains high. With more than 50 million users daily that spend over ten minutes on the site each day, Reddit is well-poised to continue its streak of success into the future.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Primakov/Shutterstock.com.