Call An Ambulance But Not For Me, alternatively written as Call The Ambulance But Not For Me is an exploitable image macro series picturing an old man being mugged by a guy with a knife in the first panel followed by the would-be “victim” pulling out a gun in the second panel to turn the tables and surprise the attacker. The image is usually used with text overlayed on both subjects in the scene that pertains to a victim and assailant swapping roles in the last panel in a surprising manner.
The original clip used in the meme (shown below) comes from a video posted to Facebook on August 30th, 2018, by the page Las Vegas Gunfights under the title “Call an ambulance.” The clip comes from a “Silver Series Self-Defense” advertisement that’s a workshop class for Las Vegas residents over the age of 65.
The first instance of the video being used as a meme comes from a YouTube video posted on November 20th, 2018, by user LucasIsHere (original authorship is unconfirmed currently). The video shows the original clip that the meme format comes from but has been edited to add glowing eyes and a skull mask to the old man. It currently (as of January 2020) has over 1.5 million views and 150,000 likes.
Posted to the subreddit r/YouTubeHaiku by u/LittleMissTaken on December 14th, 2018, this post is the first occurrence of Call An Ambulance But Not For Me on Reddit. The video received over 4,000 upvotes.
Apart from reposts of the previously mentioned video, this meme was largely unused until January 2020, when it began spreading around Reddit and other meme sites after the template was created.
Posted to r/Memes on January 23rd, 2020, by u/fishrrrrr (who is the original creator), the template was used to address the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak alongside a reference to the game Plague Inc. In the game, Greenland is notoriously one of the most difficult places to infect. The post has already gotten three awards, over 35,000 upvotes and 135 comments.
Two additional versions were uploaded to the Pokemon and the Dank Memes subreddits a day after the previous post by the same user. These posts also garnered large amounts of traction, with over 29,000 upvotes on the Pokemon entry and 28,000 for the Dank Memes version.
A third variant of the meme was also posted to r/HistoryMemes by u/TheBois24 and raked in nearly 70,000 upvotes, 33 Reddit awards and almost 700 comments.
On January 24th, 2020, Reddit user Burg_er posted another version of the template to the subreddit r/MemeTemplatesOfficial. Since the post went up, it’s received over 5,700 upvotes and 30+ comments.
After the template was posted, the format began seeing an increase in use across Reddit, especially within gaming communities where it was customized to various in-game situations for a number of titles.
Spread beyond Reddit for this meme can also be seen on Facebook, Twitter and iFunny where different versions have surfaced since the initial use on various subreddits.
A post stamped January 25th, 2020, by the Twitter account G2 Esports shows another example of the meme being used by the online gaming community, racking up over 2,200 likes and 100 retweets.
Anime References / When The Kidnapper Says TikTok Trend
In late 2020, a remixed version of the audio from the Silver Series Self-Defense video became a popular sound on TikTok. On September 12th, 2020, TikToker zookeye uploaded a video featuring the on-screen caption, “When saiki shifts his class to the dbz universe,” a reference to the anime The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. In the video, zookeye pretends to have a heart attack and lip-syncs the words, “Call an ambulance, call an ambulance,” then recovers and says, “but not for me” (shown below). The video gained over 48,000 views in 2 months. The video inspired other TikTokers to make their own anime-themed videos following a similar premise to zookeye’s, including an upload from iminlovewithsugawara on September 18th which garnered over 530,000 views (shown below, right).
The trend fell relatively silent until November, when TikTokers started applying zookeye’s original sound more broadly outside of anime references. In these videos, an on-screen caption describes a situation that begins “When a kidnapper tells me” followed by an absurd demand that most people can’t fulfill (for example, name every Adam Sandler movie). The TikToker lip-syncs along with the track and fakes a heart attack, then recovers from it quickly, looks at the camera, and lip-syncs, “but not for me,” as if they can fulfill the kidnapper’s demand. The video then either ends, or cuts to footage of the TikToker proving they can meet the demand (examples shown below, left and right).
On November 10th, TikToker tvboba uploaded a video following the trend garnering over 1.9 million views in 3 days (shown below, left). On November 12th, TikToker allidois_winn uploaded another variation of the trend, garnering over 1.6 million views in a day (shown below, right). As of November 13th, these are the two most popular videos using the sound.