The Answer: Why YouTubers are Cringy in Thumbnails

Article last updated on:
June 03, 2024

Short Answer: YouTubers make cringy faces in thumbnails to get your attention. They want to stop you from scrolling and click on their video.

It’s no secret that faces in video thumbnails make a different first impression than a boring picture without anything human in it.

  • But… Why do YouTubers make stupid, cringey, weird faces?
  • We’ll answer this question, so bear with us.

Classic example:

MrBeast - Thumbnails with Surprised Faces

Let’s explore why thumbnails like that exist in first place, and then why they make it big.

Why do YouTubers make weird faces in thumbnails?

In short, YouTubers make stupid faces in thumbnails because catch your attention and make you wonder what the hell’s going on in the video.

  • It’s a pretty obvious form of clickbait, but it works!
  • I mean… How many times have you fallen for it?

You probably fell for it enough times to end up reading this guide. These faces probably piss you off enough.

The Explanation

1. YouTuber’s POV

For the creator, getting more views is just a big win.

  • Honestly, it’s great that it works for them.
  • This is what helps most of these creators make a living out of!

In fact, creators aren’t stupid for making these weird faces…

Successful clickbait videos

This is what viewers want, and here’s the framework:

  1. Engaging thumbnails → More clicks per video
  2. More clicks → More Demand
  3. Demand → More Output from the creator
  4. More videos → Keep the viewers happy
  5. Happy viewers → More revenue
  6. Repeat

Makes sense from the creator’s view, huh?

2. Viewer’s POV

Videos with weird faces in their thumbnails always get many views because they make people wonder WTF is going on and instantly click.

This is a great video from Donut Media, and the thumbnail’s just in tune with our topic for the day:

Clickbait video with an exaggerated thumbnail
  • Clickbait: The title makes you want to know how the car performs
  • Price: Drastic change from $107k to $30k, and the green text is just eye-candy
  • Face: He’s got an excited face, so it automatically makes you wonder why
  • Views: 1.9M in just 3 weeks → Great Success (see that reference?)

Sure, the video’s got many views because Donut is a popular channel with many subscribers… But we’ve seen many big channels no views!

Donut’s not one of them because they apply the same tactic which we’ve just analyzed to every video. That’s part of why they’re successful.

Here’s a deeper AI-made explanation:

  • First, these exaggerated expressions can spark curiosity or emotions, making you wonder what’s so shocking or funny. It’s like a visual hook.
  • Also, these faces often hint at an entertaining or dramatic moment in the video, suggesting you’re in for a good story or a laugh.
  • People are naturally drawn to content that promises to create an emotional response or entertain them.

3. Community’s POV

Let’s look at a few Reddit comments:

Reddit comments about stupid faces in YouTube Thumbnails

Yeah, so you’re not alone in the end.

  • Lots of people feel the same way — it’s stupid and unnecessary
  • But then, YouTubers still do it because it’s what gets the engagement metrics up
  • So this is what works!

There’s also people like me and you who just don’t even want to click on these videos.

Successful Examples

Here are a couple of thumbnails with cringey faces that made it big.

YouTube thumbnails with weird faces

All of these images have faces showing unnecessary emotions, right?

You may even think:

  • Why be so surprised about a Best Buy store…?
  • Or shocked about an Amazon logo on a PC unit?
  • Have an open mouth looking at the camera while showing a phone’s box?

The reason is always the same: People stop scrolling, look at these images, and wonder what’s so surprising about a new computer or phone…

So they get hooked to the video!


1. Why do YouTubers have their Mouth Open in Thumbnails?

YouTubers have their mouth open in thumbnails because it’s a classic way to show surprise, excitement, or intensity.

  • This kind of expression can make the content seem more engaging or thrilling.
  • Kinda like saying “You won’t believe what happens!”
  • It’s a visual hint that the video might be surprising or emotionally charged, which can encourage more clicks and views.

2. Why do YouTubers act Surprised in Thumbnails?

YouTubers act surprised in thumbnails because it’s a quick way to grab your attention.

Seeing a surprised face makes you think there’s something unexpected or exciting in the video, sparking your curiosity.

3. Why do YouTubers make Fake Thumbnails?

YouTubers sometimes create fake or exaggerated thumbnails to grab attention and drive more clicks.

This is called “clickbait,” and it makes the content seem more intriguing or dramatic than it might actually be. The goal is to stand out in a crowded online space and entice viewers to watch the video, boosting views and engagement.

Thank you for reading this,
Thumbnail Test

About the author

David is the head of the editing team at ThumbnailTest. With his help, the editorial team is able to provide you with the best free guides related to YouTube thumbnails and A/B testing.