The origins of the ‘Orange Man Bad’ Trump meme

In recent years, the phrase “Orange Man Bad” has become a popular internet meme used mainly by supporters of former US President Donald Trump. The meme is often deployed mockingly to criticize opposition to Trump by implying it is irrational and simplistic.

This article provides background on the meme’s origins, spread online, various meanings, and use as a rhetorical tactic.

History and Origins

  • The phrase is believed to have first emerged on the internet forum Reddit in 2018 as Trump criticism mounted.
  • It was used there mockingly in comments to caricature anti-Trump sentiment as shallow and based on his appearance.
  • “Orange man” refers to Trump’s unusual orange-hued skin tone, which is either natural or the result of artificial tanning ([1]).
  • “Bad” represents frequent blanket criticism of Trump’s policies, statements, and behavior.
  • The simplistic construction of the phrase contributes to the mocking tone.

Early Spread on Social Media

  • From Reddit, “Orange Man Bad” spread rapidly across social media, often accompanied by imagery of angry looking Trump opponents.
  • It was deployed on Twitter, Facebook groups, YouTube comments, and meme sites like 4chan.
  • The meme represented a specific pro-Trump internet subculture taking shape online.
  • It allowed quick dismissal or ridicule of myriad Trump controversies by reducing them to non-substantive objections.

Use on Right-Wing Sites

The meme proliferated across right-leaning internet spaces:

  • Became a common pro-Trump refrain in subreddits like r/The_Donald ([2]).
  • Used routinely in YouTube comments criticizing Trump news coverage.
  • Applied broadly to demonize the mainstream media and Democrats.
  • Provided an inside joke signaling allegiance to Trumposphere online culture.

Variations and Metamorphosis

While retaining its core meaning, the meme has morphed into related formulations:

  • “Orange man good” – Used earnestly by supporters to praise Trump.
  • “Orange fan sad” – Counter-meme mocking distressed reactions of Trump fans.
  • “Orange fan mad” – Similar mocking of Trump devotees’ anger at his opponents.

Rhetorical Functions

“Orange Man Bad” serves several rhetorical purposes for Trump proponents:

  • Dismisses substantive criticism of Trump’s rhetoric, policies, and job performance as irrelevant.
  • Paints Trump opponents as a monolithic group lacking independent thought.
  • Ridicules dissent by framing it as an immature reaction to Trump’s appearance and style.
  • Reassures supporters by signalling Trump is simply opposed due to persona not actions.


The “Orange Man Bad” meme offers a case study in political rhetoric and identity formation online. For Trump supporters, it condenses complex policy debates down to the mere dismissal of superficial opposition to his appearance and personality.

However, for critics it represents an effort to delegitimize thoughtful dissent and constructive objections to Trump’s conduct. The meme’s evolution continues to illuminate America’s stark political divisions.


  1. The Guardian. “’Orange is the new Trump’: Why does the president covet colour so much?”
  2. KnowYourMeme. “’Orange Man Bad’”

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