The internet was mean and racist, now Pepe the meme frog has croaked

Pepe was just a "chill frog," but the internet ruined him.

If you've been on the internet at all, you're probably familiar with Pepe – if not by name, you've probably come across his face.

This cartoon frog was one of the biggest memes out there. And now he's dead.

According to CNN, Pepe was born in 2005 when Matt Furie created him as the mostly innocent "chill frog" in a comic.

Fast-forward to the 2010s, and Pepe had become a meme and a celebrity.

Still, he was pretty harmless. People usually just used a sad-looking Pepe to express life struggles, or a mischievous-looking Pepe to show they were scheming.

It was all fun and games, even in 2015 when President Donald Trump tweeted a goofy picture of a version of Pepe dressed like him.

But over time, things got out of hand.

People started using the meme for hateful, racist, and anti-Semitic messages. And by fall of 2016, the Anti-Defamation League had labeled Pepe as an outright hate symbol.

“Once again, racists and haters have taken a popular Internet meme and twisted it for their own purposes of spreading bigotry and harassing users," the ADL's CEO said in a statement.

Furie tried to speak out for his frog, saying in a Time magazine essay: "Before he got wrapped up in politics, Pepe was an inside-joke and a symbol for feeling sad or feeling good and many things in between ... I understand that it’s out of my control, but in the end, Pepe is whatever you say he is, and I, the creator, say that Pepe is love."

Yet, people continued to abuse and destroy the frog's image.

So on May 6, 2017, Furie killed Pepe. He was 12 years old.

Furie gave Pepe an open casket funeral on Free Comic Book Day. And that was it – at least, it was supposed to be.

We just checked, and people are still making and using Pepe memes – some funny, some are pretty horrible.

“This meme is almost like Elvis,” Eric Reynolds, an associate publisher at Fantagraphics, told the New York Times. “Elvis lives on, and Pepe is going to live on regardless of whether we put him in a casket in a cartoon.”

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