2016 was a big mess of a year. Our senses were overwhelmed with terrible headlines on a near- daily basis. The migrant crisis in Europe, the US Presidential election, the Orlando shooting, the horrors in Aleppo and Brexit left us with a sour taste in our mouths. Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in Paris, Brangelina called it quits and our beloved David Bowie died. Prince died, too, and Leonard Cohen...and Alan Rickman...and Gene Wilder. The entire year unfolded like a bad Vin Diesel movie. Taylor Swift continued to irritate us (and Kanye...and Katy) with her man-eating and teeny-bopping ways. Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian spawned a child. As if that wasn't enough, Harambe is dead. What the actual eff, world? Can we have a do-over?
Darkness aside, 2016 also provided us with some pretty epic moments. Beyoncé released her unprecedented concept album "Lemonade", the Cubs won the World Series after an astounding 108-year losing streak and Stranger Things became our new favorite show. Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home an Oscar for "The Revenant", One Direction broke up and Ashley Graham blew our minds as her curves grazed the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. It wasn't all bad.
As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. That's definitely accurate, and 2016 left us with no shortage of visual stimuli. The Internet had a big year, filled with plenty of mind-blowing photography. Let's review the years most shocking, most fascinating and most scandalous shots. These are the photos that broke the Internet in 2016.
20 Ashley Graham and Ronda Rousey Cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition
The 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition was culturally and socially significant for a couple of reasons. For the first time in the magazine's history, three models were chosen to graze the cover of the legendary yearly publication. Ashley Graham, Ronda Rousey and Hailey Clauson posed for alternate covers, which sent out a much-needed memo to society: all bodies are beautiful, regardless of shape, size or weight.
Ashley Graham's modelling career has exploded this year. At a size 16, she has proven that you don't need to be stick-thin to be hot. Her confidence, positive body image and infectious laugh are refreshing in a society fixated on perceived perfection.
Ronda Rousey intrigues us on a whole other level. Her strength, beauty and air of mystery keep us enthralled. Even in a one-piece swimsuit, her charisma and appeal dazzled us in a unique way.
As for Hailey Clauson, you are a classic beauty, but unfortunately that isn't shocking enough to break the Internet. You look great and we applaud you, but we think the real game-changers this year were Ashley and Ronda.
19 Leo Finally Takes Home an Oscar
After close to three decades as a successful Hollywood actor, our golden boy Leo finally brought home an Oscar for his performance as Lead Actor in director Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant.
42-year-old Leo has entertained us over the years in blockbusters Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, The Wolf of Wall Street, Romeo & Juliet and Gangs of New York. When you look at all of his cinematic accomplishments, it's hard to believe that it took the Academy so long to award him.
Leo, philanthropist extraordinaire, delivered an epic acceptance speech that urged people to pay attention to global warming. Over the past decade or so, Leo has been very involved in global conservation efforts. This year, he appeared in Before the Flood, a National Geographic documentary that depicts the dramatic effects of climate change on our planet. Way to go Leo, you finally have your Oscar and you are changing the world with your humanitarian ways!
18 Beyoncé Releases Epic Concept Album "Lemonade" and Unleashed her Wrath on the "Formation World Tour"
Even non-fans (I was definitely part of this group before hearing Lemonade) can find beauty and unmistakable artistic talent in this project. Her Formation World Tour wrapped up in October.
17 Little Boy Falls Into Harambe's Enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo
One of the most devastating headlines of 2016: the killing of Harambe. The 17-year-old gorilla was put to death in the aftermath of an altercation at the Cincinnati Zoo in May. A three-year-old boy climbed over a fence, seemingly unsupervised by his parents, and fell into the gorilla enclosure. The boy was subsequently picked up and dragged several yards in the water by the gorilla over a terrifying 10-minute period. Onlookers screamed and shouted, further exacerbating the situation by heightening the gorilla's anxiety. Fearing for the boy's life, the zoo workers immobilized the gorilla by shooting him to death on the spot.
Experts later reviewed the video footage and argued over whether it was necessary to kill the animal. Much of the footage showed the gorilla being gentle with the boy; at times holding his hand and later, carrying him onto dry land and guarding him.
Harambe's photo was plastered all over the Internet for months after the incident.
16 Barry and Hils Hug It Out
The 2016 US Presidential race was a tumultuous, extremely stressful and emotionally taxing event. For months Americans (and let's face it, the entire world) tuned in to watch Hillary and Donny battle it out. The fight for the White House was anything but amicable, as tensions between Democrats and Republicans rose to unprecedented levels. Amidst the fighting, pettiness and name-calling (not mentioning specific culprits....), there were a few moments that warmed our hearts.
Like this. A genuinely heartfelt hug between exiting White House homeboy Obama and at-the-time-presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton. The epic PDA moment took place in July, when Obama publicly endorsed Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Love them or hate them, this duo made us feel all the feels with their obvious admiration and respect for each other. Equally fun were the epically Photoshopped recreations of the original photo that sprinkled the Internet for weeks to follow.
15 Usain Bolt At the 2016 Olympics
To absolutely no one's surprise, the "fastest man in the world", Jamaican Usain Bolt, won another 3 gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Watching him run the 200m finals, at lighting speed, put a smile on the world's face. This guy is so fast that no one, even fantastic competitors like Canadian Andre De Grasse, can catch him. His perpetual smile and giddiness are infectious. He seems to be constantly laughing. He laughs before running, while running and after running. How can you not feel good when looking at this guy?
With a total of 9 Olympic gold medals under his belt, he holds the world records for both the 100m and 2o0m sprints. At only 30 years old, the Lightning Bolt has accomplished more than most athletes can dream of. We hope to see him shine in Tokyo in 2020.
14 The Cubs Win The World Series
After an astounding 108-year losing streak, the Cubs beat their bad luck and defeated the Cleveland Indians in an 8-7 final on November 3, 2016. A passionate and grueling game ended on a good note for the Cubs, who named Ben Zobrist the World Series MVP for securing the final run. The game was not without its stressful moments, however. Rain delayed the final inning, keeping fans and players on their toes. Indians pitcher, Corey Kluber, put up a good fight, though he didn't strike out any of the Cubs; a career low for the Cleveland star.
The photos of the gleeful Cubs, celebrating the end of a century-long curse, went viral overnight. Fans in Chicago, and elsewhere in the U.S, went totally nuts. An epic win to a legendary team that never gave up. This gave Chicago fans just a little more spark, we hope the next win doesn't take another hundred years to bring home!
13 Kim Kardashian Is Robbed in Paris
In October, Kim K made headlines, but not the kind she's used to. In a terrifying report, Kim Kardashian was said to have been robbed at gunpoint in her Paris apartment. The five men, dressed as police officers, tied up the doorman and threatened him to gain entry into Kim's private unit.
Kim was gagged and forced into a bathtub, while the robbers got away with two cellphone and millions worth of jewelry. It was estimated that the robbery amounted to a loss of close to 10 million dollars for the young reality star. When the news was broken to hubby Kanye West, during a live concert in NYC, he immediately left the stage and headed to his wife's side.
Their first photos, safely back on US soil, were all the rage on the Interweb. Curiosity about the mysterious heist were the gossip of the moment. Since the event, Kim has kept a uncharacteristically low profile. We hope she's not too emotionally scarred!
12 David Bowie Dies (...And A Little Piece of the World Dies Too)
On January 10, 2016, the world was forever changed when news broke that legendary musician, actor and amazing human passed away after an 18-month battle with liver cancer. The news shocked his fans; Bowie had not made public his fight with the disease, and so his death was a very unwelcome New Year surprise. Bowie was active in the music and entertainment world for over 50 years (!!!) and was a beloved creative, innovative and artistic soul.
His music was experimental, fun and unique. He was a pop king, glam rock queen and electronic experimenter that consistently delivered poppy hits. Over his impressive career, he released eleven number one albums.
The pop icon has influenced musicians, clothing designers and artists all over the world. He will not soon be forgotten and his legacy will live on. Rest in peace, Ziggy Stardust.
11 Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift Bring Each Other To The Grammys
So why was this particular date so shocking to the people of the Internet? Was it Tay's fluorescent crop outfit? Or perhaps Selena's sparkly cut-out dress and "I-rolled-out-of-bed-looking-this-hot" smile? Perhaps the Internet is aware that award shows are a particularly sore spot for young Taylor. At the 2009 MTV music awards, Kanye West took to the mic (during Taylor's acceptance speech, no less) to make sure the world knew that T-Swizzle was less deserving of her VMA than runner-up Queen Beyoncé.
Well, the world expected it, and Taylor did not disappoint. In her Album of the Year acceptance speech, she indirectly dissed him by pointing out that "people will try to take credit for your fame." The feud will go on!
10 US Olympic Swimming Team's Rio Scandal
Oh yes, this. Ryan Lochte, famous for 5 minutes for actually achieving something wonderful in the Rio Olympics. Ruined it all, and will now go down in the books as a would-be-talent who is both really dumb and has terrible hair.
In August, during the Rio Olympics, 3 male members of the US Swimming Team, led by douchebag-extraordinaire Lochte, made headlines amidst allegations that they had been assaulted and robbed by Brazilian guards at a gas station. Upon review of security tape footage, it was later revealed that their story was totally fabricated; the US team, in a drunken, entitled-white-boy state, made a mess of the gas station's bathroom, which resulted in their interrogation. Lochtegate was sensationalized and we were forced to suffer through awkward live apologies and episodes of 20/20 that never ended. Despite losing most of his celebrity endorsements, his dignity and his credibility, Lochte appeared on Season 23 of Dancing with the Stars. What a comeback.
9 Is It Bill Murray? Is it Tom Hanks?
Now this is the kind of viral photo that I can really get behind. Late in October of this year, the Web shook when a mysterious photograph of (maybe) Tom Hanks or (maybe) Bill Murray appeared. Forums were flooded with theories; debates and spin-off Hanks and Murray conversations ensued. It was a great day!
I generally appreciated this because, first of all, it's hilarious. Second of all, it literally could be either of the two actors. I was so stumped and, after careful consideration, decided that it was Tommy Boy.
Wrong! It's actually a photo of Bill Murray, in Scotland, in 2012. A fan snapped the photo of her crying son with a mocking Murray in the background. The photo resurfaces on the Net every few months, with October 2016 being the biggie. We want more of these in 2017, please!
8 Victoria's Secret Paris Fashion Show
Everyone's favorite pre-Christmas broadcast was back this year for a 21st season. The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, this years edition taking place in Paris, was filled with sparkles, fluffy wings and beautiful women. What better way to catch up on the new collection, right?
The stage was adorned with supermodels; angels of the year included Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Adriana Lima and Lily Aldridge. Victoria's Secret pioneers Alessandra Ambrosio and Karolina Kurkova graced us with their beauty for another successful segment. This year's finale showpiece, the Bright Night Fantasy bra, was worn by JasminE Tookes. The piece features over 9000 gemstones, with an estimated value of 3 million US dollars. Geez! Hope she doesn't misplace it at that price.
7 Amber Heard Drops Johnny Depp
In May, the Internet exploded with news that Amber Heard was divorcing Johnny Depp, alleging that he was abusive towards her. Initially believing the victim (as we should do more often as a society btw...), we were disappointed in Johnny and saddened to think that he was capable of such terrible acts.
Amber, 30, and 23 years Depp's junior, filed a restraining order against Johnny, but the allegations of abuse could not be proven. It seemed like her story didn't add up, and the world moved on to other, more exciting news. Depp's ex-wife Vanessa Paradis, came to Depp's defense, stating that he never showed any signs of violence towards her during their 14-year relationship.
Amber later retracted her request for spousal support, and the domestic violence hearing was delayed. In August, the two parties reached a divorce settlement agreement, and Heard donated her $7 million to charity.
6 Britney Flaunts her Bikini Bod in Hawaii
Britney's been pretty low-key the last few years. After having an epically public breakdown in 2007, the pop star has settled into a more private life. Gone are the days of getting married to scrubs in Vegas, shaving her head and attacking paparazzi with umbrellas. She's a new woman! The girl still loves one thing, though: flaunting her toned bod. Notorious for having fluctuated weights over the years, at 34, Britney appears to be in the best shape of her life. A visit to Brit's Instagram page will confirm this. Lose yourself on a visual journey of bikini and workout pics, with a healthy dose of inspiration and motivational quotes.
This year, she took to the beaches of Hawaii in August to soak up some sun and show off her collection of tiny, bright bikinis. A getaway with her two boys, Sean Preston, 10, and Jayden James, 9, was also an early celebration for the release of her ninth studio album release. Glory came out on August 26.
5 The Rolling Stones' Historic Concert in Havana, Cuba
In March, history was made when the Rolling Stones played a free concert in Havana, Cuba. The concert took place after Obama visited Cuba, marking the first time in 90 years that a U.S. President did so. The reintroduction of an amicable relationship between the formerly feuding countries facilitated the event. The concert was the biggest entertainment event since the country's 1959 revolution. A dream come true for Cuban rock and roll fans, the concert set the stage for future musical performances.
During the years following the Cuban revolution, rock music was banned from popular radio, forcing fans to listen to music in secret. An estimated 500,000 fans attended the epic event, marking a first time in Cuba for the Rolling Stones, whose career has spanned 54 years.
4 Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker Media Trial
Early this year, Hulk Hogan was involved in a bit of legal drama. In 2012, Gawker, online gossip mag tycoon, posted a two minute video of the Hulk engaging in private acts with his former best friend's wife. Messy! It was. Hogan claimed that he had not been made aware that he had been filmed, and that his privacy had been violated with the publication of the tape.
Naturally, the video went viral and somewhere upwards of 3 million people viewed the tape before it was taken down. Hulk claimed that he was humiliated and sought punitive damages of $100 million. After an emotional 2-week trial, Hulk came out a winner and walked away with a $115 million settlement. Poor Hulk. We're sorry he had to go through that stress, but $115 million might help him forget the pain.
3 Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski Pose for Topless Selfie
No matter how newsworthy he is, I absolutely refuse to add Trump to this list, so instead, you get more topless teasers! You're welcome!
This photo dates back to end of March, 2016. Just 3 weeks prior, Kim took to Instagram to post a similar naked selfie with the caption "When you're like I have nothing to wear LOL ". Despite covering her bits with black bars, she was severely judged and shamed by the likes of Bette Midler, Piers Morgan and Chloe Grace Moretz.
An outraged Kim was soon defended by pal Emily Ratajkowski, who tweeted her dismay for body shamers. To solidify their solidarity, the girls published a photo of the two of them, bare-chested in Kim's bathroom, with the same caption as the original photo. Kim, no stranger to breaking the Internet, struck again!
2 Madonna's Billboard Awards Speech
Madonna made headlines this year, and this time it wasn't for dating someone 30 years younger than her! Yes, she's still dating-down, but she also made the Internet buzz in the aftermath of her acceptance speech for Billboard's Woman of the Year award. Ironically enough, Madge focused on the realities of sexism and ageism in the industry, and gave a real, honest and inspiring pep talk to the women of the world.
As the most successful female artist of all time, her advice did not fall on deaf ears. Her career has spanned an incredible 34 years, and her tell-it-how-it-is attitude has always gained her respect (and a fair bit of criticism, too). The 58-year old's speech was beautifully delivered, and was applauded by fans and celebrities the world over. Keep it up, Madonna! The world needs more no-nonsense women to shine their light.
1 Kylie Jenner Dresses as X-Tina for Halloween
Flashback to Halloween 2016 when Kylie Jenner shocked the world and rocked the Internet with her take on Dirty-era-Christina-Aguilera. Kylie's Instagram was loaded with photos of her hit costume, which was given an official stamp-of-approval by Christina Aguilera herself.
Kylie had so much fun dressing up for Halloween, that she had a re-do to celebrate Christina's 35th birthday on December 18. This time around, Kylie opted for the bumblebee-black-and-yellow-Christina. The two starlets really milked this trend, as they were photographed cozying up to each other during Christina's glam birthday bash. Well, if it works, right?!
It was a dramatic year with lots of crazy moments, and we're looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for the people of the Internet!