248: Hypotheticals

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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What if someone broke out of a hypothetical situation in your room right now?
Title text: What if someone broke out of a hypothetical situation in your room right now?


The comic is, in short, a new take on the common TV trope in which characters in a thought bubble will sometimes look out of the bubble and talk directly to the person thinking it, another person nearby, or, occasionally, the viewer. In this comic, however, it features Cueball and Beret Guy in a conversation together, in which Beret Guy creates a hypothetical situation by imagining he had Ice Cream. This then, to Cueball's dismay, creates a hypothetical situation in which Beret Guy has ice cream, which he promptly begins to eat. Cueball then creates a hypothetical situation in which his hypothetical self has a knife to 'cut' out of the thought. He then gives this knife to Cueball, who supposedly will use it to cut out of his hypothetical situation. The title text puts the comic into context, noting the unlikely possibility- and your most likely surprised reaction- if a person in a hypothetical situation you'd involuntarily created managed to break out of it and suddenly appear in your room.


Beret Guy: What if I had some ice cream? Wouldn't that be awesome?
Cueball: No, stop--
Beret Guy (thinking):
Cueball: Great, you've trapped us in a a hypothetical situation!
Beret Guy (holding ice cream): Mm, ice cream.
Cueball: Maybe if I had a knife I could cut our way free...
Cueball (thinking):
Beret Guy: Mmm, ice cream!
Cueball (reaching back into previous thought bubble): Here, take this one.

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The reason for marking this page incomplete is itself incomprehensible, while the explanation itself seems perfectly fine. Can we just mark this as complete? ImVeryAngryItsNotButter (talk) 03:41, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

My former comment was "Layout, language, that TV topes are missing, more...". Please do not remove that tag until it's solved. And right now we have some more issues here.--Dgbrt (talk) 23:57, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
Can you elaborate? I don't see anything wrong with the explanation... LogicalOxymoron (talk) 05:38, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
I did not say that something is wrong, I just did say something is missing. Most important is to explain "TV tropes". Most people don't know about this and so it has to be explained.--Dgbrt (talk) 19:37, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
The comic itself has nothing to do with TV tropes, so no explanation is needed. 03:38, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

I think the interpretation that someone appears in your room is the one intended. The assumption is that the reader is alone, at their computer and Randall is asking them to consider the possibility of somebody breaking out of a hypothetical situation next to them. However I think the iterative nature of a hypothetical situation about hypothetical situations is the important part of the title text. Seanybabes (talk) 06:00, 9 March 2014 (UTC) I agree. The title-text is attempting to cause a hypothetical person to *actually* break into your room by making you imagine somebody breaking out of the hypothetical situation you are imagining about somebody breaking out of a hypothetical situation. LogicalOxymoron (talk) 05:38, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

I disagree - that would be to break into your room. Look at what happens to beret guy who eats ice with a "friend" who breaks out of the situation beret created! Beret would be stunned and then probably cease to exist :-) Kynde (talk) 20:43, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

I think the explanation is on-target except that a stronger case can be made for this referring to Douglas Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach than to a comedy trope. I have seen explicit and implicit influences of Godel, Escher Bach in XKCD (24, 88, 468, 555, 688, 917, 1153…). This comic is highly reminiscent of the dialog Little Harmonic Labyrinth (on page 103) and of the discussion of Escher's Dragon (page 524). Randall is playing with the weirdness of mixing levels (what Hofstatdter calls strange loops).Fewmet (talk) 16:50, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

Even Deadpool would have a hard time on this.Gonemad79 (talk) 20:13, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

Imagining a hypothetical situation is irony? 17:29, 28 September 2015 (UTC)

I just realized the guy could take the knife and break entirely out of any hypotheticalicisms...*and take the knife AND ice cream with him into the real world.* In theory, ice cream could be replaced by any object, including a perpetual motion machine, a gold block...Suddenly I really, really, REALLY badly wish hypotheticals ACTUALLY worked like this. 06:50, 27 August 2017 (UTC)