Return of the King is a popular reaction image macro format, using a screenshot from the opening scenes of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”, presenting the title over the landscapes of Fangorn and Misty Mountains.
The reaction image is predominantly used to react to the return of something celebrated or widely approved in a humorous manner. It can be encountered on a wide range of websites, from Reddit to Twitter and Tumblr to Instagram.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” first premiered in the United States on December 3rd, 2003, marking the beginning of a new era for pop culture.
Following the Gollum story, the opening scenes of the film present part of the fellowship riding to Isengard, as the camera elevates over the woods, revealing the film title, “The Return of the King.”
While the exact origin of the image macro is not known, an early example of the template was uploaded to Imgur on November 22nd, 2018.
“Return of the King” would start spreading as a reaction image on Reddit in 2019, appearing in the r/dankmemes subreddit, later spreading on to other subreddits. One of the earliest instances of the meme can be linked to the post of u/bodie_nies, reacting to the restoration of Hentai Haven. It was shared on May 13th, 2019.
Since then, the meme format also became popular on Twitter, as well as other social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, mostly appearing as a reaction image macro, reacting to newspaper headlines and tweets, while it may also appear with a variety of captions.