Adobe Flash, the multimedia software that gave us everything from chintzy pre-mobile video games to atrocious restaurant homepages, just got its death sentence. Or the next-closest thing, as Adobe announced that it will “stop updating and distributing the Flash Player,” and expects it to be officially extinct by the end of 2020.
Flash isn’t, um, popular — its security vulnerabilities have made it a favorite of hackers — and many are cheering its demise. But others are petitioning to keep it alive as an open-source project. Why? Partly for the pleasure of fixing all those bugs, I’m sure, but also to preserve internet history: “Killing Flash means future generations can’t access the past,” the GitHub petition states.
What past would that be?
Glad you asked.
Here are the stone-cold classics of the Flash viral video age, all of which have since migrated to platforms like YouTube, but whose raw aesthetic speaks of a time before.
Peanut Butter Jelly Time
If you’re too young to remember what the web was like in 2002, this animated banana dancing to a song by The Buckwheat Boyz should give you a pretty good sense of it.
Charlie the Unicorn
A curmudgeonly unicorn is what got people to watch. The twist is what made it legend.
A video doesn’t quite do justice to the experience of clicking on a link to the mysterious Zombo.com, where a friendly, welcoming voice told you that everything was possible… but nothing ever seemed to happen. This was the Rickroll of the early 2000s.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us
An old Sega game + terrible translation + Photoshop + techno = this.
Badger Badger Badger
On the original site, this looped indefinitely, so be sure to play it a few times in a row for the full experience.
End of the World
It’s been 14 years since this first went viral, but it’s actually way more relevant today.
Animator David Firth was at the forefront of web content designed to make viewers squirm with disgust, even while laughing in horror. The Salad Fingers series — which anticipated the Slender Man urban legend — was without a doubt his grossest triumph.
Trogdor the Burninator
Homestar Runner set the gold standard for irreverent, goofy internet cartoons, and within that world, the Strong Bad Email featurettes became fan favorites. Perhaps no entry made as big a splash as this one, in which Strong Bad draws a cool dragon.
We Like the Moon
I can’t actually recommend watching this, but its obnoxiousness remains impressive.
Your guess is as good as mine, dude.