Decorating one’s graduation cap, or mortarboard, is an opportunity to illustrate a degree, share a quote, make a joke, or communicate what’s important to the graduate. Some use movies, TV shows, and internet memes to make a statement.
1. RICK AND MORTY
Redditor zombiefingers graduated this spring with a degree in neuroscience. His cap pays tribute to science with a reference to the TV show Rick and Morty.
2. SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS
This mortarboard is a reference to a scene from SpongeBob SquarePants. Instagram member _deeee_w knows her friends will get it, even if no one else does.
3. FINDING DORY
Kinesiology student S Chang recently graduated from California State University, Northridge with a cap that should give some spectators pause. He hasn’t really forgotten everything just yet—it’s a reference to Dory, the fish with a short-term memory problem from Finding Nemo who’s getting her own movie.
4. SOUTH PARK
Pumloop_Sud via imgur
Redditor Pumloop_Sud used a meme that originated on the TV show South Park when he graduated from high school last year. A few suggestions to replace the question marks were “graduate from college” and “debt.”
Instagram member jamiebighouse graduated from Curry College in a mortarboard referencing BB-8 from Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens.
6. DARTH VADER
Another Star Wars reference, this one from the dark side, as Cale Berger graduated from Missouri State University with a degree in anthropology this spring.
If you really want to indicate the wisdom gained in college with a Star Wars character, a quote from Yoda is the way to go, mangled syntax and all. This grad was spotted at the University of Arizona's Fulton Schools of Engineering commencement last week.
8. HAN SOLO
One more Star Wars character, because Han Solo had the perfect quote when you confront the job market for graduates. Kristen B intends to beat those odds.
9. ARCHER/LORD OF THE RINGS
nitexstryke via reddit
Redditor nitexstryke graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a mortarboard that combined Lord of the Rings with the TV series Archer, two of his favorite things. His girlfriend did the decoration.
Gabriela C. Albright referenced the 2013 meme Doge when graduating with a degree in biochemistry.
11. DOCTOR WHO
parmesanchicken via imgur
Two redditors at the same commencement ceremony bonded over this mortarboard that references Doctor Who, reddit, and the University of Oklahoma.
Natalie O referenced Elphaba and "Defying Gravity" from the hit Broadway musical Wicked on her mortarboard.
one_more_redditor via imgur
When he graduated, redditor one_more_ put a LEGO mortarboard on top of his mortarboard! He didn't throw it into the air, though, because "I was afraid it would kill someone."
14. THE GOLDEN GIRLS
Instagram member cinemascoped credits The Golden Girls with helping to keep her sane long enough to get through high school.
A quote from Elsa the snow queen bodes well for the future on Morgan Renee Eberle’s cap. High school graduation opens up a whole new world … oops, wrong Disney movie.
BONUS: LED MORTARBOARD
Not a pop culture reference, but this is just too cool to not include. Brian Kuo graduated from Georgia Tech this year, and showed off his tech skills by displaying an animated LED matrix on his cap! He programmed it to display personal messages interspersed with animated gifs.