The Pharaoh's Curse / Curse of Ra (2024)


The Pharoah's Curse and the Curse of Ra refers to a series of memes that involve an imaginary, ancient Egyptian curse that makes people spit sand or be covered in sand. The trend also included a copypasta with Egyptian hieroglyphics said to be the curse of the sun deity Ra. The hieroglyphic text was often used in quote retweets and Twitter replies as a way to humorously curse the other person, most often written Don't Care. Curse of Ra. The catchphrase "the Pharaoh's curse" became a video meme and GIF Caption trend on TikTok and elsewhere, predominantly using Cinnamon Challenge fail videos to portray the sand. Pharaoh's Curse memes also used the phrase "Return the Slab," related to an imagined hieroglyphics slab that was stolen from the Pharaoh's tomb. Both memes trended in 2023, playing on the format of the precursor Amharic Curse or Armenian Curse meme and copypasta. Also, a variant of the trend called Poseidon's Curse emerged which used water imagery and videos to reference the Greek god.


According to Egyptian legend and accounts from archaeologists, a rumored "curse of the pharaohs" was said to plague anyone who disturbed the grave of an Egyptian, specifically that of a pharaoh.[1] The curse was said to be manifested through death and illness.[1] The concept later inspired memes about the Pharoah's Curse, additionally manifesting in the phrase "the Curse of Ra." Ra is the Egyptian God of the sun.[2] The phrase "the Curse of Ra" does not derive from Egyptian history, but rather, from the name of the 1990 video game The Curse of RA.[3] The "pharaoh's curse" was also a part of the 2018 game Assassin's Creed Origins. [17]

The first-discovered meme to reference the curse of the pharaohs was posted by Redditor VioletTantrum to /r/memes [4] on August 19th, 2020, gaining over 100 upvotes in three years. The meme used the Leonardo DiCaprio Laughing template (shown below).

Although the aforementioned meme is the currently first-discovered, Pharaoh's Curse memes predominantly started due to a viral Tumblr post shared on November 30th, 2021, by Tumblr[5] user ronaldreagancutupwhiletalking. They captioned a GIF of competitive eater L.A. Beast failing a Cinnamon Challenge with "this gif is likeโ€ฆ almost biblical. as if hes experiencing a pharaohs curseโ€ฆ" gaining roughly 10,700 notes in two years (shown below).


The Tumblr[5] post started a viral thread on the platform, continuing to March 10th, 2023, when Tumblr[6] user naamahdarling reversed the GIF, gaining roughly 140,000 notes in four months (shown below, left). Prior to the thread's eventual end in 2023, the original Tumblr[5] post gained a viral copycat on Twitter,[7] posted by @westernunion2k on December 4th, 2021, gaining roughly 39,200 likes before eventually being deleted. The same media was made into a GIF caption by iFunnier [8] @dankman on November 19th, 2022, gaining over 30 smiles in nine months (shown below, right). It was later reposted to /r/196[9] on January 7th, 2023, gaining roughly 4,300 upvotes in seven months.

Curse Of Ra Copypasta

On January 3rd, 2023, Twitter[10] user @your_welcone tweeted a variant of the L.A. Beast GIF with "CURSE OF RA" written as the top caption. The tweet also read a message in hieroglyphics, gaining over 170 likes in seven months (shown below, left). Similar hieroglyphics jibberish manifested in non-viral tweets[11][12] in the months that followed. A few months later, on May 28th, Twitter[13] user @raiden_gi tweeted a "Curse of Ra" message screenshot, gaining over 2,800 likes in three months (shown below, right).

A few hours later on May 28th, 2023, Twitter[14] user @slime_machine posted a quote retweet that cast the Curse of Ra, gaining roughly 5,500 likes in three months (shown below, left). On June 21st, 2023, Twitter[15] user @cybercanid posted another QRT that used the same set of hieroglyphics from @slime_machine's QRT, but adding "don't care," to the caption, gaining roughly 74,500 likes in one month (shown below, right).

On June 29th, 2023, Redditor LunaTheLesbianFurry posted the hieroglyphics text used in the aforementioned tweets[14][15] to /r/copypasta,[16] gaining over 40 likes in one month. The copypasta read:

don't care. CURSE OF RA ๐“€€ ๐“€ ๐“€‚ ๐“€ƒ ๐“€„ ๐“€… ๐“€† ๐“€‡ ๐“€ˆ ๐“€‰ ๐“€Š ๐“€‹ ๐“€Œ ๐“€ ๐“€Ž ๐“€ ๐“€ ๐“€‘ ๐“€’ ๐“€“ ๐“€” ๐“€• ๐“€– ๐“€— ๐“€˜ ๐“€™ ๐“€š ๐“€› ๐“€œ ๐“€ ๐“€ž ๐“€Ÿ ๐“€  ๐“€ก ๐“€ข ๐“€ฃ ๐“€ค ๐“€ฅ ๐“€ฆ ๐“€ง ๐“€จ ๐“€ฉ ๐“€ช ๐“€ซ ๐“€ฌ ๐“€ญ ๐“€ฎ ๐“€ฏ ๐“€ฐ ๐“€ฑ ๐“€ฒ ๐“€ณ ๐“€ด ๐“€ต ๐“€ถ ๐“€ท ๐“€ธ ๐“€น ๐“€บ ๐“€ป ๐“€ผ ๐“€ฝ ๐“€พ ๐“€ฟ ๐“€ ๐“ ๐“‚ ๐“ƒ ๐“„ ๐“… ๐“† ๐“‡ ๐“ˆ ๐“‰ ๐“Š ๐“‹ ๐“Œ ๐“ ๐“Ž ๐“ ๐“ ๐“‘ ๐“€„ ๐“€… ๐“€†

On TikTok

On July 26th, 2023, TikToker[18] @space_fruitcals posted a video that was a copycat of GIF originally posted to Reddit[19] a month prior. @space_fruitcals wrote in the video's description, "Return the slab," alluding to an imagined slab that was stolen from the Pharaoh's tomb. The TikTok[18] gained roughly 1.5 million plays and 357,400 likes in eight days. On August 1st, 2023, TikToker[20] @mr_friendsh1p also posted a copycat version of the original L.A. Beast meme,[4] also gaining virality. The two videos then inspired a slew of original Pharaoh's Curse memes on TikTok, many of which referenced @space_fruitcals's phrase "Return the slab" (TikTok[21][22] examples shown below).

@05lostunknown29 Ngl ts funny๐Ÿ’€ #pharoahscurse #sandsoftime #memes #fylใ‚ท #pupnoms #pupnomsanddogboy โ™ฌ the sands of time โ€“ friรซd shrimp
@matheqmuxb9 #pharaohscurse #returntheslab #sandsoftime #curseofra #pharaohsrisings #fyp โ™ฌ the sands of time โ€“ friรซd shrimp

Poseidon's Curse

On August 3rd, 2023, TikToker[23] @phill_nye posted a video of actor Tom Holland almost being splashed by water, calling it "Poseidon's Curse" in reference to the Greek god. The video gained roughly 1.3 million plays and 325,800 likes (shown below, left). Also, on August 3rd, TikToker[24] @tegua_ posted a similar video, additionally writing, "return the trident" in the caption, gaining roughly 110,700 plays and 16,900 likes in four days (shown below, right).

@phill_nye what is this #thepharaohscurse #meme #sh*tpost #sh*tposting #fyp โ™ฌ SM64 Water Theme โ€“ MARIO MUSIC!
@tegua_ return the trident. #fyp #pharohscurse #poseidon #fyppppppppppppppppppppppp #trident #water โ™ฌ original sound โ€“ ten thousand bees

The videos spread elsewhere to platforms like Instagram.[25]

Various Examples

@senseibaconzach Murr is tonight's biggest loser, so he has to get The Pharaoh's Curse #pharoahscurse #meme #impracticaljokers โ™ฌ original sound โ€“ ๐Ÿ’ŽToadette๐Ÿ’Ž
@00suli00_v1 Wrath of ra #fyp #pharaohscurse #curseofra #sand #trend โ™ฌ the sands of time โ€“ friรซd shrimp

Search Interest

External References

[1] Penn Museum โ€“ The Curse of the Curse of the Pharaoh's

[2] World History Encyclopedia โ€“ Ra โ€“ Egyptian God

[3] YouTube โ€“ The Curse of RA gameplay

[4] Reddit โ€“ /r/memes

[5] Tumblr โ€“ ronaldreagancutupwhiletalking

[6] Tumblr โ€“ naamahdarling

[7] Internet Archive โ€“ @westernunion2k

[8] iFunny โ€“ @dankman

[9] Reddit โ€“ /r/196

[10] Twitter โ€“ @your_welcone

[11] Twitter โ€“ @dixie_lord

[12] Twitter โ€“ @gadezap

[13] Twitter โ€“ @raiden_gi

[14] Twitter โ€“ @slime_machine

[15] Twitter โ€“ @cybercanid

[16] Reddit โ€“ /r/copypasta

[17] YouTube โ€“ ASSASSIN'S CREED ORIGINS Curse of the Pharaohs Trailer

[18] TikTok โ€“ @space_fruitcals

[19] TikTok โ€“ /r/memes

[20] TikTok โ€“ @mr_friendsh1p

[21] TikTok โ€“ @05lostunknown29

[22] TikTok โ€“ @matheqmuxb9

[23] TikTok โ€“ @phill_nye

[24] TikTok โ€“ @tegua_

[25] Instagram โ€“ @grandmas.butt

The Pharaoh's Curse / Curse of Ra (2024)
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