It started in November with a cat. The Urbano children of Newton, Mass. had an agreement with their parents. If they could get a thousand "likes" on a Facebook photo plea for a pet cat, the cat would be theirs. The Internet was more than happy to oblige, scoring them over 110,000 thousand "likes" and a new furry friend.
Then last week, five kids from the Cordell family of Boston decided to up the ante. They asked for a million "likes" to convince their parents that they should have a pet puppy. The Cordells reached that goal in less than 14 hours ... and a meme was born.
So where to go from a million likes? The answer was into absurdity. Parodies of the children's handcrafted signs began popping up all over Facebook and Reddit, promising that a million thumbs-up on Facebook would help children, boyfriends and husbands get bunnies, trips to Disney World, shaved heads and strippers.
Take Petter Kverneng. Yes, he's the one in the photo above who told the world that if he got one million likes he'd get "laid." Kverneng got the "likes," but didn't exactly get the payoff. "It started as a joke, and it ended as a joke," he told ABC News. "Me and Cathrine are just friends."
Another one-million-likes joke that's gone viral: The photo of a child holding a sign that says, "Our dad said if we get 1 million likes, he will get us a stripper."
That dad is Stephen Patten, and he said his point was just to show how silly some of these posts have gotten. "Our photo is a tongue in cheek parody of all the other '1 million like' photos on Facebook," Patten wrote to ABC News. Patten and his son Shay even posted a YouTube video showing what they were up to.
But it hasn't all been about jokes; some have been very serious. Robbie, 14, and Jazzy, 10, decided to hold up a sign about a cause. "We aren't asking for a cat, puppy, or bunny. We want 1 million likes for awareness for organ donation and congenital heart defects."
They are doing it to bring awareness to the disease that took their father. "They wanted to bring more awareness to it because their dad was born with a congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries," Samantha Carroll, their mother, told ABC News. "He was listed for a heart transplant [in] December 2010. He received his transplant March 6, 2012 after a 15-month wait. He passed away on April 10th due to complication." The photo has gotten 408,235 likes so far.
And as happens to any good viral trend, the marketers have jumped in. Blush Boutique Miami capitalized fast. Within a week after the meme proved popular, they ran a "million likes" challenge, with a twist. They claimed their naked model, strategically covered by a hand-lettered sign, would get free clothes for life if Facebook users gave her a million thumbs-ups.
With huge reach came huge backlash. We counted at least one complaint about the meme every 30 seconds when searching public Facebook posts, mostly from people saying they were sick and tired of it. We've collected some of the most beloved -- and bemoaned -- examples of the meme from around the net.