Make sure to check back as we update this list through to the end of the year.
This summer, it seemed like everyone was ordering a fresh pair of roller skates and hitting the pavement. Roller skaters like Ana Coto were hugely popular on TikTok this year, coinciding with an increased demand for roller skates. But, like many things, this wasn't just a social media trend, and it didn't come out of nowhere. Black communities have been keeping skating alive for decades.
2. Spooky bedsheet ghost photo shoots
This one has actually been pretty controversial. Basically, people don white sheets to be old-timey ghosts and do a photo shoot, setting the TikTok to "Oh Klahoma" by Jack Stauber. However, there's debate about who started it and whether it's appropriate, given what some have characterized as KKK vibes.
3. Rating random things
We really and truly rated everything under the sun this year on TikTok, all using the same sound. We've got siblings, hose settings, elderly husbands, a possum's behavior, and shit men say. Perhaps the purest iteration, however, is from the animal shelters that rate all their very good boys and girls.
4. What I eat in a day
Again, this one is controversial because food and eating is a very scrutinized thing. Some people said this sound promoted disordered eating or triggered those with eating disorders, but it otherwise became a way for people to tell Trisha Paytas to drink water.
5. Being the main character
This all started as a popular audio clip with a voiceover that says, "You have to start romanticizing your life. You have to start thinking of yourself as the main character. If you don't, life will continue to pass you by." That turned into a whole other thing (we'll get there later), but the "main character" trope remained. This is all about those moments when you feel like you're in a movie. You know the ones.
Well, people have started poking fun at that feeling and using Lana Del Rey's "Mariners Apartment Complex," a very "main character" song.
6. "You have to stop..."
Remember that audio I mentioned above? Well, people took the original and changed it to compel people to do all sorts of things. Anyway, here's one from Dr. Phil.
7. Things that just make sense
This trend started with @her.atlas, an expat living in Japan who documented the neat and functional things in her apartment. People then took the idea and started applying it to other things, like tiny New York City apartments.
8. What your (blank) says about you
There have been so many of these that it's hard to know where it started now, but the basic premise is that the TikToker applies personality traits to categories of things. Like a quiz that does itself for you!
9. Charcuterie boards
This all seems to have started with @magsmeals, a TikToker who makes videos of herself creating truly beautiful meat-and-cheese boards for her clients. Her videos were getting really popular, which inspired a wave of videos of people making shitty charcuterie boards and then the very excellent "char-coochie" videos.
10. The thirst trap transition
This trend started with women on the app transitioning from being a regular cool girl to being a hot alt girl. Then a shoe flip was introduced, again leading to hotness. Then the shoe flip was slowed down to allow more buildup before the hotness. Basically: Everyone on TikTok is hot.
11. Moms out for girls night
By now you have surely, surely seen the mega-viral TikTok of a group of moms out for a little girls night on the town. But what really made it special was the subsequent duets of people imaging everything from what cars the moms drive to what shoes they were wearing. The cherry on top was people dressing up as the moms to re-create the video.
12. Childhood cringe
Turns out we were all awkward as fuck as children. A big trend in 2020 was people revealing their most cringey moments when they actually thought they were being ~super cool~.
13. NYU quarantine meals
For about a week in August, it felt like the only people on TikTok were New York University students getting shitty meals while quarantined in their dorms.
CAN I PLEASE HAVE ONE (1) SUBSTANTIAL MEAL♬ This turned into a trend I dont know how (Shakira- Hips Don’t Lie) - Lichen Decay Forest
14. Election memes
This year's presidential election was a doozy, with Joe Biden ousting Donald Trump. But due to so many mail-in votes and some very close races, counting was slow as heck and people memed the crap out of it.
15. The Target challenge
People were, like, really bored during quarantine. So much so that a challenge began where you go to Target (or a similar store) with a partner or bestie, get them a collection of items for different categories, and then do a surprise swap.
16. Whipped coffee
Remember the simpler days when we were all obsessed with whipping together instant coffee, sugar, and water? It's better known as dalgona coffee, and for a hot minute, it seemed like everyone on TikTok was making it.
17. "It's Tricky" game
Also known as "This or That," it's like watching people do a live personality quiz. The Jenners have done it, nuns have done it, and I bet you've thought about doing it.
18. Ridiculous rich people stories
This started within a larger trend of people asking questions that people answered in their own videos. This question, asking for stories of ridiculous behavior by wealthy people, came from user @missbeifong.
19. "I'm doing hot girl shit"
On TikTok, "hot girl shit" can mean looking like a baddie, but it can also mean softly crying while knitting. Women contain multitudes!
Remember having to do acrostic poems in middle school? This is like that, but spicier.
21. "I do my lil' dancey dance"
We've been in quarantine for months, so frankly it's surprising that it took this long for a trend to develop where we dance with our fur babies.
22. Rare aesthetics
These videos mostly come down to nostalgia and conjuring familiar scenes from the past — some more niche than others.