TIME Magazine has just published its list of The Top 100 Photos of 2021. The unranked gallery has some incredible shots documenting the major events of the past year. It’s worth checking out in full, both to admire some great journalistic photography and to reflect on the wild year we’ve just had. 

U.S. Capitol police officers point their guns at a door that was vandalized in the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

These are just a handful of images from the collection that we found to be particularly impactful and/or memorable.

The year that was

A military transport plane launches off while Afghans who cannot get into the airport to evacuate, watch and wonder while stranded outside, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 23, 2021. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

2021 has been an odd year. But 2020 was a complete shock to the system. And, as TIME’s photo editors say, everyone hoped it was just “uniquely cursed” and “the worst year ever.” 

A Palestinian girl stands amid the rubble of her destroyed home on May 24, 2021, in Beit Hanoun, Gaza. Gaza residents continue clean up operations as they return to damaged and destroyed homes as the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas appeared to be holding into the fourth day Fatima Shbair/Getty Images

But 2021 wasn’t quite the reset most of us were looking for. As TIME puts it, “2021 has proved to be a fraught annum of unfinished transitions, half-kept promises, all torque, and in-betweens.” It has been defined by civil unrest, wars, natural disasters, and, of course, the ongoing COVID pandemic. 

Sha’Carri Richardson reacts after competing in the first round of the Women’s 100 Meter during day one of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 18, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon. Steph Chambers/Getty Images

TIME’s selection of photos shows all this and more. Occasionally, though, light-hearted images—there was an Olympics, after all—are interspersed with dramatic, terrifying, and heartrending shots from around the globe. 

Team Netherlands run from the pitch sprinklers following warm-ups ahead of the Women’s Preliminary Pool A match between Germany and Netherlands on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Oi Hockey Stadium on July 31, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Steph Chambers/Getty Images

For as unsettled as America was, places like Afghanistan, Palestine, and Ethiopia suffered their own tragedies away from the eyes of 24/7 newscasters. 

An injured resident of Togoga, a village about 20km west of Mekele, arrives on a stretcher to the Ayder referral hospital in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 23, 2021, a day after a deadly airstrike on a market in Ethiopia’s war-torn northern Tigray region, where a seven-month-old conflict surged again Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Images of natural disasters also feature heavily in TIME’s collection, and it’s not hard to see why. Barely a month went by without some story of fires, volcanos, earthquakes, or just random carnage making the news. It’s clear that going forward, humans are going to have to reckon with more similar disasters as the global climate warms and changes

This aerial view shows debris engulfing buildings in Bushara village, Nyiragongo area, near Goma, on May 23, 2021, after a volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo, that sent thousands fleeing during the night in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Justin Katumwa/AFP/Getty Images

A look to 2022

Former presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) sits in the bleachers on Capitol Hill before Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

So here we are at the end of 2021, much as we were at the end of 2020—hoping that this was all an aberration, and that next year will be better, or at least a little calmer. 

US President Joe Biden (L) and First Lady Jill Biden (2nd L) appear on the Blue Room Balcony as they and family members (R) watch fireworks from the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Fingers crossed that next year when TIME’s photo editors put together a gallery of images, I can pull out nothing but celebratory ones!