Pepe the Frog is dead, killed off by his own creator after he watched Pepe turn from a wholesome meme into a symbol co-opted by neo-Nazis for the alt-right.
Pepe was created by cartoonist Matt Furie back in 2006 for his comic Boy’s Club, but after everything that has happened to Pepe in the last year (including its official recognition as a symbol of hate by the Anti-Defamation League), Furie put Pepe in a coffin in a page-long strip published today, Comic Book Resources reported.
In an essay published by Time in October, Furie wrote about how Pepe was never supposed to be about hate. The “blissfully stoned frog” who “enjoyed a simple life of snacks, soda, and pulling his pants all the way down to go pee” was apolitical.
Pepe began a healthy life a popular, innocuous meme around 2008, Furie said, with his dopey face expressing little more than feeling good or bad about something. Only recently was Pepe forced into politics.
Momentum built around Pepe and he quickly became ingrained with right-leaning politics. So ingrained that President Donald Trump tweeted a picture of Pepe-as-Trump during his campaign to become the republican presidential nominee in October 2015.
“It’s completely insane that Pepe has been labeled a symbol of hate, and that racists and anti-Semites are using a once peaceful frog-dude from my comic book as an icon of hate,” Furie wrote in Time. “It’s a nightmare, and the only thing I can do is see this as an opportunity to speak out against hate… I understand that it’s out of my control, but in the end, Pepe is whatever you say he is, and I, the creator, say that Pepe is love.”
Speaking out wasn’t enough though, and Pepe’s life in comics was cut short.
The death is only symbolic though. The alt-right meme will live on, whether Furie wants it to or not.