1079: United Shapes

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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United Shapes
That eggplant is in something of a flaccid state.
[Click comic to enlarge]
Title text: That eggplant is in something of a flaccid state.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Why Georgia and Missouri are represented by the shapes of the other State? What about the Colorado article - there are several parts of this that are not covered yet. See the text below in the transcript
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Click on the image above to see the large version, which makes every state perfectly clear. Additionally, Randall provides a closeup of the Colorado article. [1] (It is obviously a fake Wikipedia article.)

In the large version, all of the items inside the States make sense once you get your head oriented the correct direction.

The title text makes fun of Florida which is sometimes called “The penis of America”. Obviously, this penis is somewhat flaccid (not erected). The use of the word “state” is a pun, as it means some particular condition (flaccid state) as well as a political entity (The State of Florida).

The following references are made in the Colorado article:

The reason why Georgia and Missouri have the shapes of each other (Georgia has Missouri, and vice versa) may be that their shapes are in a way familiar, and therefore, they can be fitted into each other. Note that the shape does not have to be exact, as the shapes of the other states do not exactly match.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Some of the text may be unreadable - maybe someone can guess the text, or actually see it clear enough to correct or enter this below?
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
The United Shapes: A map of things states are shaped like
[Each state has some item wedged to stay inside its borders - any text on the item will be written below the description of the item as given here:]
  • Alabama: An Easter Island moai head facing east.
  • Alaska: A cartoon bear with a jetpack and a ray gun.
  • Arizona: A refrigerated shelf containing milk, bread, and pastries (lying down to the left).
  • Arkansas: A measuring cup.
  • California: A vacuum cleaner (lying down to the right).
  • Colorado: A fake Wikipedia article on Colorado. Below the text as seen in the provided close up:
[web address:]
Article Talk
[Main article {note that Randall forgot the closing parentheses ')' after the pronunciation}]
Colorado (Pronounced [ˈeːijaˌfjatlaˌjœːkʏtl̥] is a US State encompassing portions of the Rocky
Mountains and the Great Plains. The region has been inhabited since at least 11,000 BCE, and
some archaeological evidence suggest the state – with roughly its current borders – has literally
always existed. Colorado is separated from Wyoming by a 28-mile demilitarized zone, and
has at times exercised substantial regional
power via the installation of puppet governments
in neighboring states
Geographically, Colorado is eleven-dimensional,
though seven of those dimensions are tightly
compacted and difficult to detect in most areas
of the state. Colorado is home to the nation's
oldest continually-operated wormhole and two
of President Lincoln's horcruxes.
The wildlife in Colorado is commonly characterized
as "erratic", particularly in the radiation zones
around Longmont. The State's timber wolf
population is largely bipedal; the Park Service
has expressed "concern" at their attempts to enroll in
[Fact box with (correct) State flag and emblem:]
State of Colorado
"Si parare possis, vivere septem."
(With preparation, survival is
possible for over a week.)
  • Connecticut: A train conductor's hat.
  • Delaware: A meerkat.
  • Florida: an eggplant.
  • Georgia: A red cut out of the state of Missouri adorned with the Missouri river and the Gateway Arch.
  • Hawaii: A thrown snowball loosing snow on its way.
  • Idaho: A garden gnome, sitting down.
  • Illinois: A gangster with a violin case (upside down).
  • Indiana: The brush of a paintbrush.
  • Iowa: A tomato, lettuce, cold cut and cheese sandwich.
  • Kansas: A stand-up piano.
  • Kentucky: A cloud and a small cloud.
  • Louisiana: A boot with some gum stuck to the bottom of it.
  • Maine: A hand performing a Vulcan salute from Star Trek.
  • Maryland: A wolf howling at the moon (upside down).
  • Massachusetts: An elephant, carrying tea, being ridden by a man.
[On each of the three boxes on the elephant:]
Tea tea tea
  • Michigan: A mitten for the lower portion and an eagle for the upper portion (UP).
  • Minnesota: A bundle of eight $20 USD bills with a band around the middle (Standing on the end of the notes with the part with two times 20 at the top).
20 - Federal [band]ve - Note 20
MN 225 181.00 2 [band] The
MN [band] ted states
[band] America
(Undreable) [band] P5347861.00
[band] (Undreable)
20 [band]y dollars
  • Mississippi: An Easter Island moai head facing west.
  • Missouri: A green cut out of the state of Georgia adorned with a branch with two peaches on (i.e. the Peach State).
  • Montana: One half of a muffin (lying down to the left).
  • Nebraska: A blue VW type 2 with mattresses sticking out the back.
  • Nevada: A clothes iron (lying down to the left).
  • New Hampshire: A tall brick factory building.
  • New Jersey: A bent-over old person.
  • New Mexico: A yellow liquid container labeled in a silly way for something unusual and dangerous (upside down).
This end up!!
Property of White Sands Missile Range
Contains White Sand
[Written inside a hazardous-materials diamond with the ? very large, and the three '4' in the three top part of a diamond shape divided in four these three sections being blue, red, yellow. The lower part has a radioactive sign on the same grey background as the large rectangle.]
??? 4 4 4
This product contains chemicals known
Only to the Sate of Nevada.
Contents under pressure from rich parents
If swallowed, induce labor
56 fluid ounces
and 14 other ounces
  • New York: A hybrid transmission with standard manual-style gears and a torque converter sliced in half (lying down to the left).
  • North Carolina: A bouquet of flowers (lying down with the flowers towards east).
  • North Dakota: The top half of a guitar amplifier (South Dakota being the bottom half).
  • Ohio: Underwear (Briefs).
  • Oklahoma: A stovetop pressure cooker with the lid on, dripping with a dark liquid boil over.
  • Oregon: A locomotive.
  • Pennsylvania: A very thick book with a bookmark with unreadable text written on it.
  • Rhode Island: The bow half of a boat's hull (lying down to the left).
  • South Carolina: A slice of pizza.
  • South Dakota: The bottom half of a guitar amplifier (North Dakota being the upper half).
  • Tennessee: A number of children's books, placed in a slightly askew pile with the following titles:
Handford - Where's Waldo? or Wally
The Wreck of the Zephyr - Chris Van Allsburg
The Way Things Work - David Macualay
Wiesner - Free Fall
Paddle-to-the-Sea - Holling
What it Feels Like to be a Building - Wilson
Tintin - The Crab with the Golden Claws - Hergé
  • Texas: A dog sitting in a bowl (lying down to the left).
  • Utah: An oven.
  • Vermont: A microscope (upside down).
  • Virgina: A stegosaurus.
  • Washington: A whale.
  • West Virginia: A frog.
  • Wisconsin: A skull.
  • Wyoming: The backside of an envelope sealed with wax with a signature.
(Unreadable signature)

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Hooray, another comic that only Americans will get. Randall, some of us live in *other* parts of the world. Davidy22[talk] 13:47, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Wait, so an American addict with a mostly-American audience is supposed to limit himself to cartoons that everyone can understand? And people say AMERICANS are the arrogant ones. 07:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

Could someone please explain the stereotypes? I'm American and I don't really see any jokes. As far as I can tell, he just picked images that fit in each state. -- (talk) 07:59, 24 March 2013 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

We still have to fix this thumbnail issue. --Dgbrt (talk) 16:47, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

For the most part I don't think the shapes have anything to do with the states other than what happens to fit. The Louisiana "boot" and Michigan "glove" are commonly used to describe those states shapes. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

People in Michigan actually say things like "I live in the thumb" 05:18, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure how this really constitutes an explanation. The current text seems to amount to "Yeah this comic is all perfectly clear and logical everyone gets all the references alright I gotta go have fun now!" I think this needs an incomplete flag, but I don't know if someone who isn't a moderator can do that? --Mynotoar (talk) 22:32, 26 December 2013 (UTC)

Could the signature in Wyoming be Randalls own one? Compare it to 1005: SOPA. -- 09:06, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

He does lotsa comics the rest of us can undrestand, too. After all, though, he IS American. Texas: that's a cat? 16:26, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

<rant> The bear in the state of Alaska is NOT Winnie the Pooh. The most recognizable version is yellow with a red shirt. The original illustrations didn't have a shirt, but were still yellow. Further more, there ARE other cartoon bears to choose from, or it could just be a non-affiliated one that Randall created for the sake of fitting in the state of Alaska. Add to that the fact that Winnie the Pooh never had a jetpack OR a raygun and there is a pretty solid case for that bear NOT being Winnie the Pooh. </rant> Anonymous 04:51, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

I did correct a former typo done by Randall himself, but Winnie the Pooh is just what he was thinking about. Please start a discussion on such an edit first, maybe we can say Randall's painting is bad, but that's what is on his official transcript. And SO this does only belong to the explain, the transcript is just only a transcript of the ORIGINAL comic. I'm sorry, but please don't change this until you know what you are doing, please ask for help first. You will get kind answers by many people here. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:29, 18 March 2014 (UTC)4

In regards to New Mexico, the hazardous waste container could easily be a reference to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. I think it's also worth noting that, despite the transcript, the entire container appears to be upside-down, rather than just the label. This could be an allusion to concerns about radiation leaks in that facility. MurphysLife (talk) 23:28, 17 July 2018 (UTC)

Undoing edits

I expanded a bunch of descriptions, especially with an eye for people who may not be able to see the comic. This was the "incomplete explanation of the day" comic the day I started adding to the wiki. For example, Utah was described as "An oven." I changed this to "A white stove" because the entire appliance is called a stove (an oven plus drawer below, cooktop above, and upright piece with controls at the back of the cooktop).

Dgbrt undid all my changes without explanation. Would someone please explain what, if anything, I did wrong? I know I'm new here, but I did look around before making any changes. Is there an "o

Corollary question: Someone also removed the actual text that appears in the various images.

Is there an official-from-Randall transcript somewhere?

Thanks. Karenb (talk) 21:48, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Dgbrt replaced the transcript that was present with the transcript that can be found here, or in the page source of the original comic. It's not always perfectly accurate, but I usually just trust in it since Randall probably knows what he drew. If you feel that there's a typo/stuff-up somewhere, feel free to change it. Accuracy trumps the original transcript. Davidy²²[talk] 00:48, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, David! That makes a lot of sense. Karenb (talk) 01:37, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
I disagree. The transcript here should explain what is in the comic. Randall's transcript (if there even is one) is often not very complete, and he doesn't use the names we have here. If he has drawn something that is clearly not what he writes it is, then it should be corrected in this transcript. --Kynde (talk) 10:14, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

Is this ready for the incomplete flag to be removed? Explain section has been updated to explain the shapes that can be explained.Tornadowrangler (talk) 03:35, 3 April 2014 (UTC)Tornadowrangler

A note about Maryland -- the transcript description is incomplete, because the wolf (main part of the state) appears to be howling at a full moon (across the Chesapeake Bay). That bit of land is referred to as the Delmarva peninsula, because it includes nearly all of Delaware, the eastern part of Maryland and (not indicated on this map) the southern tip belongs to Virginia. 04:13, 13 May 2014 (UTC)

I always thought NC & SC look like a bird beak & VA looked like a bird in flight Beastachu (talk) 19:35, 8 November 2015 (UTC)

I halfway fixed the issue addressed by the incomplete box. I have nothing to contribute to the current spotlighted explanation, so I am working here. I will finish the job later if I have time. I also added some more possible explanations to the chart, such as Washington D.C. being a star because that's how capitals are shown and the somewhat weak explanation of Maine's camp sunshine holding an event to appear in a Star Trek film. 16:04, 20 April 2016 (UTC)

I believe the transcript is now complete. 15:08, 22 April 2016 (UTC)

After some more additions to the transcript I removed the incomplete box. The only thing left is the comic explanation, and finding possible explanations for all of the shapes. Despite what the current description says, Randall just picking shapes based on shape is very unlike him. 22:19, 25 April 2016 (UTC)

So what you're saying is it should no longer be flagged as incomplete because only the explanation is incomplete? What an interesting conclusion

Holy crap what's with the transcript? Should we collapse the table? Because it makes the page zoom way out, to the point where it becomes too small to see the words. Herobrine (talk) 06:08, 6 April 2018 (UTC)