“The evil has been defeated” meme features an image of a classroom filled with young, Japanese schoolchildren with the main girl happily holding a frog. “The evil has been defeated,” she claims, or, in some versions, “the evil is defeated.” Without context, it’s a surreal and confusing image; however, even without understanding the origin of the image, the intent of the meme is clear; goodness has triumphed over the forces of malevolence. This meme has popped up all over the internet in recent years and is used to comment upon situations where a disliked party has been vanquished.
The image of the schoolgirls comes from a relatively minor moment in the 2011 horror film Cabin in the Woods. In Cabin in the Woods, a slick group of professionals, known as The Organization, set up a variety of real-life scenarios inspired by tropes found in popular horror movies. Their goal is to steer unknowing participants into specific behaviors.
Most of the events in Cabin in the Woods unfold in America, but the film also provides glimpses of parallel projects in other countries. The scene from “the evil has been defeated” meme occurs in Japan, where a cluster of schoolgirls face a monster named Kiko, who is also credited as the Japanese Floaty Girl. Kiko is a grim, creepy monster, and it seems the young girls will suffer terribly, but they join together to perform a ritual involving flowers and a song, which defeats Kiko. The scene is played for laughs as Kiko’s spirit is transferred over to a harmless frog.
The moment not only expands the world of Cabin in the Woods, but it also gives a nod to frequently occurring trends in Japanese horror movies. Fans of Japanese horror will recognize the common theme of a haunted schoolroom as well as the presence of a Yūrei, a kind of spirit that is frequently vengeful and has similarities to the western concept of a ghost. Yūrei are meant to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to vanquish.
“The evil has been defeated” scene has emerged as an effective meme for a number of reasons. It celebrates the joy of a victorious young girl, having used innocence, teamwork and ingenuity to overcome powerful forces. Memes catch on because they’re strange, interesting, relatable and applicable to a variety of scenarios. With its depiction of an unusual underdog victory, “the evil has been defeated” scene fits the bill.
One popular example of this meme is back in 2016 when Zootopia overtook Frozen with the highest earning debut of a Disney animated film. Users were happy to see what they considered a smaller and more deserving movie steal the crown and vanquish the “evil” Frozen.
The meme also becomes a popular choice for commentary when celebrity feuds begin to stir. This casts one celebrity as an evil force and the other as the noble vanquisher. It also occasionally appears when a celebrity is “canceled.” Sports fans also post the meme when their team beats the odds and achieves victory.
Common usage of “the evil has been defeated” meme didn’t occur immediately after the release of Cabin in the Woods, but it gained traction once familiarity with the film faded a bit. The earliest appearances seem to have popped up in 2016, and lately the meme has been used more and more. As Animal Crossing explodes in popularity, “the evil has been defeated” is being semi-frequently applied to the events of fans’ virtual villages, as seen in a tweet by @ExandShadow.
While Cabin in the Woods is a bleak film with a cynical view of humanity, it is also a satire that uses it absurdity and cynicism for humor. As a result, the film has led to meme that’s a surprisingly wholesome portrait of victory and optimism.
“The evil has been defeated” meme has popped up all over the internet and is used to comment on situations where one party has been vanquished.