WTF Art History

Nighthawks as Memes – Edward Hopper’s Best Renditions

Celia Leiva Otto 28 September 2020 min Read

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks is one of the best known images of 20th-century art that has also become one of the most popular meme sources of the 21st century, appearing on the Internet in endless renditions.

Edward Hopper's melancholic paintings are an invitation to imagine. That is to say, you feel like a weird observer like in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The scenes take place in “no places” such as this restaurant, which was inspired by “a restaurant on New York’s Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet” but at the same time it’s universal, timeless. Nothing in the image tells us to “get into” the restaurant and the human figure are four night owls lost in their thoughts.

Edward Hopper's images have indeed inspired movie productions and many generations of artists, but clearly Nighthawks is the one that has endured the most variations, even before internet was around. Therefore, I would like to go the other way around and pay attention to how well known fictional and real personalities invade the restaurant of Nighthawks.

Indeed, everyone can find their own favorite Nighthawks meme. What comes next is my personal selection of parodies and variations.

The Simpsons

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks renditions / memes with The Simpsons
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition/ meme with The Simpsons (Matt Groening, Fox Broadcasting Company). Pinterest.

Moe’s Bar has moved to the Nighthawks corner. 

Who watches the watchmen? 

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks renditions with The Watchmen; Hesstoons, Night Watchmen. Hesstoons/Deviantart. memes
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition / meme; Hesstoons, Night Watchmen. Hesstoons/Deviantart.

Dr. Manhattan serves coffee to Nite Owl, Silk Spectre and Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias. But, what happened to the Comedian?

Star Trek Nighthawks

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition with Star Trek nighthawks renditions memes
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition/ meme: Rabittooth, Star Trek Nighthawks. Rabittooth/Deviantart.

Capitain Kirk and Spock left the Enterprise in this space Nighthawks version. "Live Long and Prosper."

Banksy Nighthawks 

Banksy, Are You Using That Chair, 2005 nighthawks renditions memes
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition / meme: Banksy, Are You Using That Chair, 2005. Pinterest.

This Banksy parody shows a fat, shirtless man in British flag underpants standing outside the diner, having just smashed the window with a nearby chair. Meanwhile, inside the diner, our nighthawks remain calm.


 Josh Ellingson, Wifi Diner, WIRED Magazine, 2003 nighthawks renditions memes
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition; Josh Ellingson, Wifi Diner, 2003, WIRED Magazine.

We feel the same loneliness as the original one, but then we have some kind of déjà vu. Does this image look familiar to you too?

Batman and Superman  

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition with Batman and Superman; Ian-Navarro, World's Finest nighthawks renditions memes
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition / meme with Batman and Superman; Ian-Navarro, World's Finest. Ian Navarro/Deviantart.

Sometime before dawn, the heroes of Gotham and Metropolis meet for coffee. Who knows which villain they just defeated?

Ghibli Nighthawks 

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition with Totoro; Sybary, Ghibli NightHawks, 11 October 2012 nighthawks renditions memes
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition / meme with Totoro; Sybary, Ghibli NightHawks, 2012. Sybary/Deviantart.

If you too get emotional every time you see a Studio Ghibli's production, you'll find in this variation some of their most mythical characters!

No one

Dean Rohrer, Depopulated Nighthawks
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks rendition; Dean Rohrer, Depopulated Nighthawks. Pinterest.

This one might represent the difficult times we live in: the Nighthawks in COVID-19 times. The picture translates the great city desolation, now even without his characters. Edward Hopper’s images became viral in the first weeks of the quarantine. Indeed, one might say that we were are all in Edward Hopper paintings.

The illustrator Dean Roher played with Edward Hopper's iconic images by removing all the characters from them. Yet with that simple gesture, it becomes evident that the force of the American painter's images resides in his empty interiors.

Tell us what is your favorite version of the Nighthawks?

Fan of Nighthawks? Have a peek into other paintings by Edward Hopper:


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