Late last night, my friend texted me something that made me laugh harder than I have in what feels like four years. Perhaps it was the manic state I was in after barely having slept for the past three nights as I anxiously waited on 2020 presidential election results, or perhaps it was that the meme she shared was just that glorious. But when I opened her message to find Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers, superimposed into that often memed Game Of Thrones scene in which Olenna Tyrell reveals she was the one responsible for killing Joffrey Lannister right as she's about to die, I lost it. The combination of Gritty dressed in Olenna's hooded hat and veil, and the words, "Tell Donald, I want him to know it was me" scrawled across the bottom of the image were just too much. Reader, when I tell you I screamed.
Gritty is, of course, an icon, having made waves across the internet since his (her? their? its? how can pure goodness even have a gender?) introduction in September 2018. The orange creature has nearly 320,000 followers on Twitter and has been widely memed online and parodied on TV. But, the furry NHL monster isn't just a funny face. It was only just over two years ago, in September 2018, that the city of Philadelphia officially welcomed the creature into this world as the mascot for the Flyers. According to NPR, Philadelphia's City Council even passed a formal resolution "honoring the spirit and passion" that Gritty embodied for Philly and the entire country — especially its online communities.
Gritty very quickly became more than a hometown hero. By November 2018, he had been adopted as a symbol for Antifa and the socialist movement in America. He's often referred to as the kind of anti-Pepe the Frog. Despite Flyers director of marketing Sarah Schwab's insistence that Gritty is an apolitical being — "He doesn't really know his right from his left," she told The New York Times — the monster continues to be embraced by progressives — now more than ever.
After so much time waiting to find out who our next President will be, swing states like Georgia — and of course, Pennsylvania — are slowly bringing us closer to an escape from this post-election purgatory and the hellscape of the past four years with Donald Trump as our leader. So, how fitting that Gritty is once again emerging as a hero for our time, yes, by embodying the spirit of the anti-fascist movement in America, but also by embodying the unhinged moment in our nation's history.
Ahead, please enjoy our favorite 2020 election memes that feature our enduring symbol of hope, Gritty.