The Origins Of The Crying Dawson Meme

Merriam Webster defines a meme as "an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media." Some memes have been circulating throughout the internet for so long that many people have long forgotten their origin, and some have become so iconic that they seemingly never fall out of relevance. Among these are classics like Kermit sipping tea, Grumpy Cat, and, of course, Crying Dawson. While anyone who was obsessed with "Dawson's Creek" can look at the meme and tell you exactly where it came from — down to the season, episode, and scene where the iconic tears were shed — if you're a bit younger, contemplating the origins of 1990s America's dreamiest blond film buff might just leave you scratching your head. 


The man in the meme pictured is none other than iconic teen heartthrob Dawson Leery, portrayed by James Van Der Beek. And, while his tears may not be pretty, he captivated the hearts of millions as the star of the iconic teen drama "Dawson's Creek." Long before Facebook existed and memes spread from coast to coast at the speed of light, Van Der Beek created what would eventually become of the most used memes of all time. Here's exactly where it comes from.

An iconic love triangle caused Dawson to cry

What would make dreamboat Dawson Leary ugly-cry like Kim Kardashian, you ask? In the Season 3 finale of "Dawson's Creek," which aired on May 24, 2000 per IMDB, the tears that changed the world were shed. For three seasons, fans of the television series had become engrossed in one of the most iconic will-they won't-they love stories of all time between Dawson Leery, Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), and Pacey Witter (Joshua Jackson). 


While Dawson and Joey were an item in Season 2, at the end of Season 3, someone else got her. After sharing a kiss with her and Dawson's best friend, bad boy Pacey, Joey left on a sailing trip with the aforementioned best friend. Realizing that he's taken Joey for granted, Dawson sobs on the edge of the creek as Joey leaves him.

Though the show's existence faded from TV (though you can still stream it), Dawson's tears will never disappear from the comments section on Facebook. James Van Der Beek immortalized his career as a meme before the word even existed.