In 2001, actor Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords and music guy for the recent Muppet movies) appeared as an unnamed elf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. He had no lines, appeared onscreen for roughly three seconds, and created Internet waves solely by being handsome.
Super-fan Iris Hadad named the character "Figwit," apparently an acronym for "Frodo Is Grea... Who Is THAT?!" (Figwit is shown right after Frodo says, spoiler alert, "I will take it!" in the Fellowship scene where he claims the Ring.) Hadad and her friend Sherry de Andres launched Figwit Lives!, a fan site to end all fan sites, and the rest is meme history.
In this 2002 clip from New Zealand's 3 News, we see a very young Bret and Jemaine performing early Flight of the Conchords material and discussing the Figwit phenomenon. Um, wow:
Things got weirder in 2004 when a 45-minute documentary on the character was released, featuring interviews with tons of luminaries from the LOTR films, as well as footage of Bret meeting the Figwit fan community. You can watch it here, but -- you've been warned -- I have only skimmed through it. I'm just amazed that this exists:
The documentary includes a performance by Flight of the Conchords playing "Frodo's Song." Here's a version complete with a rap breakdown:
For more hot, hot Figwit action, check out the Figwit Know Your Meme page. It's got everything.