The Brief: "Wait that's illegal" is the punchline in a popular Reddit reaction meme.


This image macro meme includes a still from a 2004 episode of the web series Red vs. Blue titled “Real Life vs. The Internet.” In this episode, characters from Halo act out the differences between social interactions that take place online and ones that occur IRL. In a discussion about illegal music downloads, one character says “Wait. That’s illegal.”

“Wait that’s illegal” first proliferated as a reaction meme and phrase online on Reddit in January 2019. It’s commonly used as a caption or punchline to react to scenarios in which someone witnesses something illegal, against the rules, or seemingly impossible.

Like many popular memes and image macros, this one appears to be somewhat separate from its original context, with a range of uses that don’t require knowledge of the meme’s origin to get the joke. As the meme became popular fifteen years after the clip from which it is taken was originally uploaded, it also demonstrates how memes can evolve and stem from a range of contexts. As a reaction meme, this one bears some similarities to memes like “we don’t do that here.”

A Reddit Cake Day reference:

Wait That’s illegal from memes

Wait that’s illegal from memes

Wait. That’s illegal. from memes

Apparently, Jacksepticeye has special airplane privileges (or purchased in-flight WiFi)…

Wait, that’s illegal from memes

WaIt, ThAt’S iLleGaL. from memes

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