Forget Kanye West and Taylor Swift's onstage debacle. The 2009 VMAs bore witness to Gaga in all her glory as she hung from the rafters covered in (fake) blood. It was a historic VMAs debut for the then 23-year-old, who took home three awards, including Best New Artist.
Gaga brought Kermit the Frog as her date to the 2009 soiree—because of course she did. "It's our first date, but we've been eyeing each other for a while," she teased on the red carpet.
What Ariana lacked in Gaga-esque theatrics at her very first VMAs, she made up for in showstopping vocals and a bouncy ponytail that would ultimately become her signature 'do. The pop singer's pre-show performance of "Baby I" and "The Way" helped establish Ariana as so much more than a Nickelodeon child star.
New year, new Ari! At the following VMAs in 2014, she got to "Break Free" from her bubblegum persona with a kickass performance alongside Nicki Minaj and Jessie J. The powerhouse trio opened the show with "Bang Bang," and Ariana won her first VMA for Best Pop Video.
The 2010 VMAs will always be remembered for Gaga's infamous meat dress, her third and final ensemble of the evening. After sweeping eight of the 13 categories she was nominated in, Gaga spoke to Ellen DeGeneres about the inspiration behind the daring look.
"I, as you know," she told Ellen, "am the most judgment-free human being on Earth. However, it has many interpretations. But for me this evening it's that if we don't stand up for what we believe in, if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're gonna have as much rights as the meat on our bones. And I am not a piece of meat."
Gaga went method for the 2011 VMAs, appearing as her male alter ego, Jo Calderone. The brooding Italian even presented Britney Spears with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, however she rejected Gaga—err, Jo—after attempting to recreate the pop princess' VMAs kiss with Madonna. "I've done that already," Brit teased.
Ariana and Nicki brought the heat as they reunited on the VMAs stage in 2016. Their performance of "Side to Side" included a full on spin class, and TBH we're burning calories just thinking about it.
Gaga channeled her inner Little Mermaid at the 2013 ceremony, and she stopped for this photo with One Direction. 'Nuff said.
Fresh off their whirlwind engagement, Ariana brought Pete Davidson as her plus-one to the 2018 VMAs. The couple's red carpet debut dominated headlines that night, but two months later the engagement was off. Fortunately for fans, we'll always have this moment (plus their many matching tattoos and pet pig) to remember them by.
That same year, Ariana reimagined The Last Supper for her performance of "God Is a Woman." The visually stunning spectacle concluded with a heartwarming cameo from the star's beloved mom, grandmother and her cousin.