Wait, I Thought It Was a Joke
“Wait, I Thought It Was a Joke” denotes a screenshot taken from an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants featuring a fretful blue fish typically utilized in image macros. The meme initially arrived on the scene in 2019 and gradually gained momentum over the following years.
On October 5th, 2001, the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Bully" was initially broadcast in the U.S., which stores the image used in the meme. In the episode, a character comes across menacingly towards SpongeBob, and as he hurriedly flees from this intimidation, a collection of bystanders gaze upon him running by among them a blue fish with an unsettled facial expression (shown below at timestamp 00:18).
On December 23rd, 2019, iFunny user Taamo posted an image macro with a screenshot of the blue fish featuring distressed features accompanied with upper text reading, "Wait you guys are actually racist," and base text that says, "I thought it was a joke," attaining more than 440 smileys in one year.
This vogue is typically used in two ways. The first is to express confusion or surprise at something that isn't necessarily a joke. The second is when someone uses the phrase "Wait, I thought it was a joke" to excuse their lack of understanding of a situation or idea.