Ge You Reclining: A viral meme and the actor's legal battles

Zhang Long
Actor Ge You's iconic reclining pose from a '90s sitcom not only became a viral meme but also sparked lawsuits from the actor, who has triumphed yet again in court.
Zhang Long

Actor Ge You, 67, has once again received compensation over his "Ge You Reclining" meme lawsuit.

The well-liked actor has successfully sued more than 600 firms in the past few years for using his image without consent. The compensation he received from the firms has totalled approximately 7.59 million yuan (US$1.05 million) as of March 2023.

The most recent lawsuit, the People's Court Announcement website displayed the ruling that Hangzhou Healthwell Technology Co failed to fulfill its obligation to apologize and compensate Ge after using his image in a promotional article for the firm, leading to the publication of the judgment in the case where Ge sued the company over a portrait rights dispute.

Ge You Reclining: A viral meme and the actor's legal battles

The famous 'Ge You Reclining' image has been used without compensation or approval.

Ge You's character Ji Chunsheng in the 1993 situational comedy "I Love My Family." The "Ge You Reclining" meme originates from stills from episodes 17 and 18 of the show.

In these episodes, the character is seen fully reclined on a sofa, a pose that came to be known as "Ge You Reclining," turning into a viral Internet sensation in 2016. This case also dates back to litigation from 2016.

Ji Chunsheng had a famous line in "I Love My Family": "I, Ji Chunsheng, may be poor, but I am not short of ambition. I do not steal, I do not rob, and I am not against people; I just take life as it comes."

The lively portrait by Ge in the sitcom of Ji as a "defeatist" resonated with numerous netizens after the show aired, thus making the meme become viral around the nation rapidly.

Ge You Reclining: A viral meme and the actor's legal battles

Ji Chunsheng chills on his couch a lot in the sitcom.

The pose did not become famous merely because of Ge, but many people associate it with the typical Beijingers' way of relaxing.

Pop singer and variety show star Wowkie Zhang vividly described this reclining method in a program: the body slides down until it reaches a 120-degree angle with the back of the chair, and until the stomach is so flat that it can be used as a "computer desk."

Ge You Reclining: A viral meme and the actor's legal battles

Wowkie Zhang explains how Beijingers like to relax on a chair.

In writer Lao She's "Teahouse," written in 1956, many lazy gentry preferred sitting over standing and lying over sitting.

Ge You Reclining: A viral meme and the actor's legal battles

A screenshot of the series 'Tea House,' adapted from Lao She's work.

In the Internet culture of 2016, the prevalence of "defeatist" culture was remarkably prevalent, with suggestions that the character for "defeatist" could top the list of characters of the year in 2017.

The spirit reflected by the "Ge You Reclining" meme aligns well with the "defeatist" mood of youth, giving the meme a long-standing presence in the Chinese Internet lexicon.

Ge You Reclining: A viral meme and the actor's legal battles

Numerous memes have been recreated with the famous image.

According to a 2016 report from, while positive, motivational content dominated the social networks of young people, the prevailing cultural demands for progress ironically caused many young people to feel anxious.

"Defeatist" culture represents a counter movement to this, appearing to defy orthodoxy, progress, and striving, yet it provides young people with a sense of security amidst their anxieties, serving as a form of self-deprecating expression.

As actor Ge wins successive lawsuits and receives compensation for the use of the "Ge You Reclining" meme yet again, netizens joked, "Is lying down this profitable?"

"While ordinary people strive to 'lie flat,' Ge You literally profits from lying down, truly deserving the title 'Grandpa Ge'," one wrote.

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