But at what cost? refers to a popular image macro, depicting Wario semi-transparently over a cloudy sky, with an overlaid text of “I have won… but at what cost?”, mimicking the format of many cliché inspirational images.
Online it is used as a reaction image macro, describing situations where the losses outweigh the gains of a victory.
The image macro originates from Tumblr in 2014, with an early example having been posted by user psyducked.
It would see many reposts and applications as a reaction image on the social media site in the following months.
“But at what cost?” first emerged on Reddit in February, 2016, with captions added over the image macro itself, appearing in subreddits such as r/me_irl and r/dankmemes or r/memes.
It would remain a constantly occurring meme format on Reddit even in 2020, while also appearing on other social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- Know Your Meme – I’ve Won… But At What Cost?
- Cheezburger.com – ‘I’ve Won, But At What Cost’ Memes Almost Had Us Feeling Bad For Wario