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17 Pop Culture Moments That Blew Up on Social Media in 2023

From groundbreaking technological advancements to glitzy entertainment releases, this year had it all. But not every trend was a welcome one. This retrospective offers a unique lens into these pop culture moments — the highs, the lows, and everything in between. (image)

As the year winds down, it's time to stroll down memory lane and revisit the pop culture moments that defined 2023 on social media. From groundbreaking technological advancements to glitzy entertainment releases, this year had it all. But not every trend was a welcome one.

This year Forekast, in partnership with Something Great Marketing, explored the events that shook social media to its core, captivated our feeds, and reminded us that you never know what trend is just around the corner. This retrospective offers a unique lens into our shared digital experience — the highs, the lows, and everything in between. 

Let’s give 2023 a quick rewind.

The big screen

2023 was a landmark year for cinema, with the big screen offering a mosaic of storytelling that captivated audiences worldwide. From box office records to a near-clean sweep of the Academy Awards, each moment resonated deeply on social media, sparking discussions, celebrations, and, yes, memes. So many memes. 


The live-action Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, became the cinematic sensation of 2023. In Forekast’s 2023 Trend Rewind report, 85% of respondents said that Barbie was the most talked about movie of the year. 

Greta Gerwig's direction led this vibrant film not only to be the highest-grossing film of the year, earning $1.4 billion but also to become a cultural phenomenon.

It sparked a global trend in pink fashion and accessories, resonating powerfully with audiences. A pink billboard went viral on social media, along with a brand collaboration with Airbnb, and maybe most significantly, fans made thousands of memes combining Barbie with another blockbuster that shared its release date: Oppenheimer. 

The Barbenheimer mashup became a cultural phenomenon that no social media marketer (or user, for that matter) missed in their feed. It made such a big impact that it even has its own Wikipedia page

Its success was a testament to the enduring appeal of the theatrical experience in a streaming-dominated era. Barbie's impact was so profound that it earned a nomination for TIME's Person of the Year, highlighting its significant cultural influence. 

What a year for Barbie. 


Onto the second half of the Barbenheimer equation. When Christopher Nolan announced he was making a movie about theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, he absolutely didn’t foresee Barbie playing a huge role in the marketing and box office success of the film. 

Looking back on the year, there’s little doubt that Barbie is Nolan’s second favorite movie of 2023. 

Oppenheimer blew up on social (pun intended), earning over $950 millon at the box office worldwide in 2023. It became the third highest-grossing film in IMAX history in the US and has essentially become the most successful biopic of all time. 

AMC Theaters reported that over 20,000 people purchased tickets to both Barbie and Oppenheimer on opening weekend. The double dip and talk of the double feature on social media was a huge trend in July. 

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

It’s also been a heck of a year for video games in all of their forms and adaptations. Believe it or not, Oppenheimer was only the third most successful movie at the box office this year. Number two featured a couple of plumbers and a very angry turtle. 

@supermariomovie We all need more Mario in our lives. Bring him home today. Own #SuperMarioMovie ♬ original sound – The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie generated $1.36 billion worldwide in 2023, becoming the highest-grossing film based on a video game just one week after its release. 

When you throw in the success of Spider-Man 2, The Last of Us, and the excitement surrounding the GTA 6 Trailer this year, it’s easy to see why 2023 could be dubbed the year of the gamer. More on those trends later. 

The Academy Awards

The fervor surrounding Everything Everywhere All at Once at the 2023 Oscars highlighted the evolving landscape of cinema and the power of social media in amplifying cinematic milestones. The film took home Oscars in three of the four major acting categories, along with Best Director and Best Picture. 

The groundbreaking movie, celebrated for its innovative storytelling and captivating performances, swept the major awards, creating a buzz across social media platforms. Its unique blend of science fiction, family drama, and humor resonated deeply with audiences and critics alike, sparking widespread discussions and admiration. 

The film's success at the Oscars not only marked a significant shift in the type of movies celebrated by the Academy but also dominated social media trends, with fans and industry insiders alike celebrating its achievements. 

The small screen

We Netflix-ed and chilled a lot in 2023. Just swap out Netflix-ed for HBO-ed and FX-ed. 

The Last of Us

Many of us started 2023 with a new series full of amped-up mushroom people and what some are suggesting is one of the best episodes of television in recent memory. The Last of Us fans will know the episode we’re talking about. 

The show was highly anticipated. The first teaser which masterfully integrated themes from the game, generated over 57 million organic views in 72 hours, making it HBO’s most-watched teaser of all time. HBO slowly released glimpses of the show on social media that stayed true to the source material and caused a huge stir amongst fans of the game. 

All of the promotion on social media led to a smashing success, making The Last of Us the most successful case of a video game making the leap to a show. 32 million viewers per episode and one Game Award for Best Adaptation later, and audiences can hardly wait for season two. 

Oh, and a new meme was born

The Bear

Yes Chef, audiences around the world renewed their love for cooking in 2023, thanks to the fast-paced, stunningly shot scenes from season two of The Bear. 

While FX and Hulu haven’t disclosed specific streaming numbers, they did confirm that season two garnered the highest viewership for any FX series premiere on Hulu, with a 70% increase in viewership from season one. 

@yuyuyu3666 #movie #thebear #film #tiktok #foryou ♬ original sound – yuyuyu3

Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Jon Bernthal, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Odenkirk, Sarah Paulson, John Mulaney, and Olivia Colman (to name a few), it’s clear that Hollywood itself respects this show just as much as viewers do. 

Not bad, cousin. 


It was the end of an era for one of HBO's big-name shows, as Waystar Royco’s saga wrapped up at the end of May. 

@hbo See, dramaturgically it did make sense. #succession ♬ original sound – HBO

Succession had viewers guessing until the very end as to who would be taking the reigns at the company, a question that basically took the series four seasons to answer. Some fans loved the finale, some hated it, but all agreed that the acting throughout the show was pretty spectacular.

The return of the concert

It wasn’t so long ago that people were wondering if live events were dead. Did Covid put a stop to the public gathering? Did Gen-Z kill the concert? 2023’s answer is an emphatic: NO.

The Eras Tour

TIME named Taylor Swift the person of the year, and a whopping 72% of Forekasters agreed she was the most talked about person of the year. The smashing brilliance of The Eras Tour had a lot to do with her success. 

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