Softly don’t refers to a memorable scene from the television series The Office, where Michael is saying the word “Don’t” in a soft, but highly intimidating matter.
Online the scene is used as a popular reaction image macro and GIF, as well as a copypasta, seen mostly in the titles of posts.
— [Softly] Don’t (@softly_dont) January 2, 2017
The “Softly don’t” meme originates from the Season 3 Episode 12 of The Office, which first aired on October 5th, 2006, under the title The Coup.
In one of the scenes during the episode, Michael (portrayed by Steve Carell) utters the word in order to threaten Dwight (played by Rainn Wilson).
Memes about the series, like It’s Happening and No God Please No started popping up online since the late 2000’s, with “Softly Don’t” first appearing as an image macro in an upload to the site Picture Quote, shared on September 20th, 2016.
Captioned memes about the scene started emerging online in 2017, with a Twitter page, named @softly_dont launching in January that year.
The meme had a few upshots in the following years; however, its popularity truly began to rise in September 2019, with image macros and GIFs appearing on sites ranging from Twitter to Reddit, Facebook and 9GAG.
- Reddit.com – r/DunderMifflin