The sheer size of reddit, which famously billed itself as the “front page of the internet,” means that the place is inherently viewed from an extremely wide range of perspectives. For some, reddit is that place on the web where they go to seek out funny .gifs, or to post the 10,000th photo of their cat. To a foodie, it’s an endless source of recipes and inspiration. To a political news junkie, it’s where global and national news tends to break first. For a movie buff, it’s the genesis point for casting information and new film trailers. The function of reddit is essentially to act as a portal to whatever niches you prefer.
Does that extreme eclecticism mean there’s always a dark side to the platform? The short answer is “absolutely.” Over the years, there have been no shortage of deranged subreddits and communities built up around them, which have functioned as conduits for political extremism and generally terrible or toxic behavior. But for all the weird, terrible shit on reddit at any given time, there’s just as much or even more weird, wonderful shit.
If there’s one aspect of reddit that truly shines, it’s the weapons grade absurdity of some of its more eccentric but good-hearted subreddits. These are some of the web’s goofiest corners, communities dedicated to random tasks such as “contextless clips from infomercials” or “terrible, self-submitted yearbook photos,” or “crazy stories from the food delivery industry.” These are the communities of reddit that make the site worth visiting on a daily basis, and have provided no shortage of belly laughs over the years.
So without further ado, check out some of our all-time favorite, oddball subreddits.
Anyone who has ever stayed up late at night to watch bizarre infomercials knows the inane joy this bargain-basement programming can bring, but r/wheredidthesodago delivers that joy in bite-size segments, all the funnier for the fact that they’re completely bereft of context. Participants in this subreddit track down inexplicable .gifs from infomercials, such as this woman turning into some sort of chewbacca creature made out of pet hair, and then give them humorous titles that imply some sort of new and fanciful context. It’s like a game of competitive improvisation, bookended by clips that are always memorably strange.
Who among us does not have a regrettable era of personal fashion somewhere in our past? r/blunderyears is reddit’s premier destination for self-deprecation, as users post photos of themselves as children, teenagers or young adults and bemoan the fact that they ever thought they could pull off that hairstyle, or their brief obsession with taking photos posing with ninja weaponry. Awkward family portraits and class photos abound, of course, but the real classics of the genre contain such elements as self-mangled hairstyle, or double sunglasses, or clutching a Poke Ball while wearing a cape. You might expect such a subreddit to result in catcalling and abuse, but r/blunderyears always seems to maintain an uncanny ability to empathize with the person posting their embarrassing photo, sharing similar tales of their own prolific blunders.
The subreddit dedicated entirely to “sly” .gifs revolves around a somewhat unquantifiable notion of “smoothness,” a certain suave sense of effortless cool that comes in pulling off an impossible-looking feat, but largely by accident. Many of the classic .gifs of this genre involve narrow brushes with disaster or humiliation, saved by a great recovery or “smooth landing.” Take this skateboarder, for instance, who collides with another kid on a skateboard but simultaneously manages to scoop the kid up, circle around and deposit him back on his board, all without ever touching the ground. Of course there’s also simply .gifs of people doing things that just look impressive as hell, like this guy tossing the contents of a shot glass into the air and then catching all the liquid in his mouth without spilling a drop. The subreddit is a collection of things that nobody would ever believe if you didn’t have video evidence.
Everything you need to know about the experience of browsing through r/titlegore is immaculately captured in the above image from Kate Beaton’s comic Hark! A Vagrant, which serves as the subreddit’s spirit animal of sorts—this is a community dedicated to exactly the sort of confusingly written copy that proliferates in a place like reddit. The point here is to celebrate the brain-melting confusion of bad headlines and confusingly written posts from all over reddit, whether they’re simple—“Do you prefer sex with or without a condor?”—or completely and utterly inscrutable. You want an example? Try this post title on for size. “If Hitler was Hitler today, and Hitler cloning machine. You hold world hostage with Hitler Clone Hitler Unlimited Hitler. What hold hostage with exchange for Hitler Hitler?” Or how about “Mutilated body washes up on Rio beach to be used for Olympics beach volleyball”? It’s the subreddit for people who delight in reading things, only to go “Wait, what was that?”
There’s no shortage of subreddits beginning with “tales from,” covering a wide variety of walks of life and careers, but I especially appreciate r/talesfromthepizzaguy, which also encompasses food service workers from every corner of the globe. This is a place for every put-upon delivery person to vent about the bizarre and excruciating customer interactions they go through on a daily basis, and commiserate with each other on making it through another shift. Moments of kindness, triumph and hilarity occasionally brighten the scene, but make no mistake—this is a place for the airing of grievances, and the way it illustrates how we treat those we see as “beneath us” will give you a new appreciation for food service workers of all kinds. Your next pizza delivery tip after visiting r/talesfromthepizzaguy is guaranteed to a generous one—these folks go through a lot to keep the pizza coming.
If there’s a hall of fame for individual subreddits, r/mildlyinteresting will almost certainly end up there someday. This is the kind of community that really sums up the reddit experience as a whole—a collection of images, .gifs and experiences that all genuinely qualify as “mildly” interesting. The idea is that these are small, bite-sized pick-me-ups or bits of interesting information that can be quickly consumed and then discarded, likely never to be considered again. Example posts include the guy who found and recreated the cliffside scene pictured on the wrapper of a Clif bar, or the woman who illustrated how gaps in eyebrow hair was a genetic trait of her family by showing a family portrait from 1855 next to her own face. Of course, if you demand posts that are even more interesting, you can always visit r/damnthatsinteresting instead.
Another subreddit that is precisely what it sounds like: A celebration of all things bad design. Awkwardly designed flight of stairs that seems determined to mangle whoever climbs it? Belongs on r/crappydesign. Use of Comic Sans or Papyrus that are hilariously inappropriate to the situation? You’ll find that here too. Individually wrapped bananas? I, uh … didn’t know that was a thing until just now, but you’ll find it here as well. They’re all hilarious, but I’m particularly partial to this deranged playground slide, which seems to have been maliciously engineered to hurl a child back and forth against its edges. What madman would have conceived of such a piece of playground equipment? Possibly the same person who designed this version of the philosophical “trolley problem,” in which you get to decide between killing 5 or 6 people?
Reddit’s home for all low-quality film content, r/badmovies is a loving celebration of cinematic shlock, with a particularly well-balanced and eclectic disposition. Whereas some subreddits have a tendency to get overly bogged down in only one type of post or content, r/badmovies is a true smorgasbord of everything you might appreciate if you enjoy trash cinema. There are vintage trailers, film discussions, contextless clips calculated for maximum “WTF” factor, posters, interviews, and every other style of content imaginable. One post might launch into a dissection of a modern, big-budget disaster like Cats, only for the next to unearth the strangest clip imaginable from a 1970s Turkish revenge action movie. There’s honestly no telling what you might see here on any given day, but the community displays a collective passion and appreciation for the bizarre that is unique even for reddit.
There are a lot of subreddits dedicated to nature, animal photography and the natural world, but how many of them are fucking lit, brah? Such is the simple, central conceit of r/natureisfuckinglit, which dedicates itself to the majesty of the great outdoors, except sprinkled with flame emojis and a general sense of childish exuberance. What’s fascinating about the array of selections here is that they aren’t all the animal footage and photos that one would likely expect—there’s also quite a few beautiful vistas, hiking panoramics, or simply top-notch backyard photography. Anything that qualifies as “nature” likewise qualifies to potentially be lit. Selections range from the unavoidably amusing, like this 1 oz lemming seemingly trying to run off a skier from its territory, to genuinely breathtaking, like this tribute to America’s national parks. All in all, this is the kind of subreddit that essentially anyone can appreciate, provided they can tolerate a few F-bombs.
A subreddit that has sadly and understandably had plenty of fodder in the years since 2016, r/nottheonion is dedicated to the kinds of egregious headlines that have made many of us numb—headlines so hideous, morbidly hilarious or hard to believe that they really seem like they should have come from The Onion, but somehow didn’t. Just look at this week, which gave us the likes of “Christopher Key, urine-drinking Alabama anti-vaxxer, says he doesn’t need driver’s license: ‘I am a free man.’” Or how about: “Hiker lost on mountain for 24 hours ignored calls from rescuers because he didn’t recognize phone number.” Or maybe a little of: “Mike Pence Once Ratted Out His Fraternity Brothers For Having a Keg.” It’s not a subreddit that tends to make one feel better about life in a general sense, but it’s an excellent place to indulge in a little gallows humor.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.