The “Here’s Johnny” meme is based on a famous scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror movie “The Shining”. The scene involves the main character Jack Torrence (played by Jack Nicholson) breaking through a door with a fireman’s ax. After a hole is formed in the door, Nicholson places his face through and says the phrase “Here’s Johnny,” intentionally dragging out the vowels of both words. The scene was parodied in popular culture almost immediately after the movie was released, and thus the joke predates the internet.
The words “Here’s Johnny” originally came from the late night talk show “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”. Ed McMahon, the announcer of the show, would begin each show by introducing the host, Johnny Carson. He often opened the show by using the phrase “and now here’s Johnny”.
The line “Here’s Johnny” gained further fame when it was said by Jack Nicholson’s character in the 1980 horror film “The Shining”. This film is also the origin of the image macro of Jack Nicholson that is often used in the “Here’s Johnny” meme.
Because the parodies of the famous scene from “The Shining” predate the internet, it is nearly impossible to trace the online origins of the image macro. It is likely that the image macro dates back to the earliest chatrooms and online forums.
“Here’s Johnny” is versatile, and many examples of the meme have been photoshopped to include fictional characters or real people in place of Jack Nicolson’s character. In its most basic form, the image macro is used to make a joke about the sudden or unexpected arrival of a person or character.
Because the Jack Nicholson scene is so iconic, “Here’s Johnny” is often used without text. The “Here’s Johnny” scene is easy to recognize, giving the image macro a hieroglyphic quality that allows users to mentally conjure the phrase without typing it out. This can add to the comedic effect of the image macro, while at the same time adding an extra layer of irony.
Additionally, due to the iconic nature of the “Here’s Johnny” scene, this image will likely be used indefinitely.