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I’ve pondered the orb and now I can’t go back

I looked into a crystal ball and it showed me a bunch of memes

Saruman gestures with his hand claw-like over the Palantir — which shows the eye of Sauron wreathed in dark smoke — in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Image: New Line Cinema
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

An orb is a simple but powerful object. The crystal spheres — which are typically used to predict the future — can beget awe, mystique, and even sometimes fear, depending on the kinds of omens they bring. Orbs have long been the stuff of fantasy stories, and now, the magical object has become the star of a popular new meme.

The trend is all based on an illustration by Angus McBride, who was an English historical and fantasy artist. The image shows the artist’s imagining of Saruman, the evil wizard from The Lord of the Rings. In the illustration, we see the cloaked wizard’s dark and brooding eyes gazing deeply into a glowing blue orb.

Jokes about the orb vary. However, many riff on the how a wizard would “ponder” the orb, since it’s an object of wisdom and can be such a strong tool of the occult. The idea is that pondering it will bring some form of revelation. However, now the pondering just brings funny jokes that riff off of popular television characters and other memes. Here’s an example of the original image, as shared by Polygon’s own Cass Marshall:

There are a bunch of variations and edits of this image that pull characters from other shows and stories. Here is Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, pointing at an orb.

The next example is a twist on a popular screenshot of Marge from The Simpsons, which originally depicted her holding a potato and saying, “I just think they’re neat.” Now “neat” has been changed to “ponderous” as she holds an orb.

Here, George Constanza from Seinfeld gets upset over the price of an orb.

This one references the famous painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer. This image swaps out the girl and iconic pearl earring with a wizard and an orb earring.

Others spin jokes from previous meme formats and combine the orb with them. Here someone takes the “Sickos Haha Yes” meme, which usually shows a neighbor peeking in at something, through the window. In this case, the neighbor is a wizard looking through the window at an orb.

Next we have a chart that explains who does and doesn’t ponder the orb in The Lord of the Rings. True to the original joke, Saruman both knows the orb and ponders it.

Other memes just play with the concept of the orb to make silly jokes. Here, the person swaps the role of the wizard and orb to create a meme where the orb is the one doing the pondering.

Here someone made a corn orb, or as the Tweet describes it, “corb.” That’s it. That’s the joke.

This one is cute — it’s a caricature of the orb and Saruman up late texting each other. It’s based off of a meme where a couple texts each other.

This one is just based on the good ol’ “hot singles in your area” joke inspired by web ads and pop-ups. Instead, the image says, “I don’t want love. I just want SEX. See My Orb.”

So now, whether or not you yourself have pondered the orb, you at least have all the memes to help you decide whether pondering the orb is the right choice for you.

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