Pepe the Frog, the meme that rose to mainstream prominence during the election as a mascot for pro-Trump trolls, has a plumper and more racist toad counterpart called Groyper that is proliferating through social media.
Originally a character in a psychedelic comic strip, Pepe eventually mutated into a meme for spreading alt-right talking points. Trump even retweeted an image of Pepe in 2015. The meme is now considered a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.
The earliest known use of Groyper, according to KnowYourMeme, was in 2015, though Google Trends indicates that the popularity of the meme has mostly grown in the latter half of 2017.
Here is the most basic version of the meme:
As Hill editor and Right Richter blogger Will Sommer pointed out last week, the rise of Groyper may be indicative of an ideological division within the right-wing internet. Whereas Pepe the Frog has become relatively popular, even among moderate Trump supporters, Groyper appears to appeal to more ardently racist and xenophobic users like Eli Mosley, the former CEO of white supremacist group Identity Evropa.
The meme is primarily found on 4chan, extreme right-wing Twitter, and Gab—the “free speech” alternative to Twitter. A Twitter search for Groyper-affiliated accounts turned up dozens of results, with incendiary usernames such as “Groyper by the Pussy” and “Je Suis Groyper.” There are also a number of cryptic cartoons featuring the toad on YouTube, the most-viewed of which is titled “Groyper Mesmerizes you to sleep.”
As with Pepe, online posters usually customize the image. Hulk Hogan even retweeted a Groyper version of himself, according to Sommer, though the former wrestler has since deleted it. While some variations appear to be innocuous, with Groyper dressed as the Grinch or Dracula, others reference far-right cultural touchstones. For example, here’s a Groyper delivering Papa John’s, which the Daily Stormer endorsed as the official pizza of the alt-right:
Here’s an Islamophobic rendering:
The versions of the meme found on Gab tend to be the most disturbing, such as Groypers outfitted as Hitler and other perpetrators of the Holocaust, and another outfitted as William Pierce, one of the most prominent American Neo-Nazis in the final decades of the 20th century.
The exact origins of the meme are murky. There are a number of threads on 4chan and Reddit accusing Groyper fans of stealing the image of the Easter Toad—which is what the meme is more commonly called in Australia, according to Sommer—from 4chan’s international board.
The meme is still far less popular than Pepe. Yet Groyper’s continued rise—or lack thereof—could tell us something about the shape of far right social media in 2017.