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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at [[explain xkcd]]. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [[xkcd]] web comic, it should be here.
 
You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at [[explain xkcd]]. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki!  We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between.  If it is referenced in an [[xkcd]] web comic, it should be here.

Revision as of 21:16, 24 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". xkcd comics, and only Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". (Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",".%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

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Go to this comic explanation

Win by Induction
This would be bad enough, but every 30th or 40th pokéball has TWO of them inside.
Title text: This would be bad enough, but every 30th or 40th pokéball has TWO of them inside.

Explanation

In the Pokémon franchise, human characters called Trainers capture fantastical creatures from the wild, the titular Pokémon (a shortened form of "Pocket Monsters"), and train them to battle one another. Pokémon are captured and stored in devices called Poké Balls, which shrink the creatures down to pocket size (hence "Pocket Monsters"). The anime's dub has enshrined the phrase "<Pokémon's name>, I choose you!" into popular culture memory. When Trainers do battle, they often shout this phrase while throwing the ball to the ground, releasing the Pokémon at full size.

In this comic, a Pokémon chosen at some point was a Pikachu, which does not intend to engage in the battle himself. Instead, the Pikachu chooses another Pikachu to fight for him. This process then repeats itself. Behind the Pikachu with the Pokéball is a long line of other Pikachu, suggesting that this process has been going on for a while.

Nearby stands Cueball, holding a closed Pokéball, and Megan, looking at her watch. This suggests that Cueball intends to have his own Pokémon fight the Pikachu, but is waiting to see which enemy his Pokémon must face before the battle can actually begin (waiting in vain, if the above described process repeats indefinitely), while Megan (who may have chosen the original Pikachu) is growing impatient with the delay. Given that Cueball is holding a closed Pokéball he has not deployed yet Megan must be his enemy and cannot herself be his Pokémon.

The joke in this comic comes from analogy with the mathematical proof by induction, which is a proof with a base case, followed by a never ending sequence of steps. Each step leads to the next, thus proving something for all cases. This title seems to suggest that the process of Pikachu choosing Pikachu will not end, effectively postponing the battle indefinitely. (The name "induction" comes from logic and discrete mathematics, and is thus unrelated to physical phenomena; but the fact that Pikachu are "Electric-type" Pokémon is most likely a word play connecting the two ideas).

If there were a single Pikachu in each ball, this would spawn an unlimited number of Pikachu forming a single line. Since, as title text notes, there're occasionally two of them in a Pokéball, this would lead to exponential rather than linear growth.

Pikachu was used in one storyline of 1350: Lorenz. See all the moves here.

Transcript

[There's a long queue of Pikachu extending out of the frame to the left. They are all just out from their ball, at least the last eight Pikachu's open balls lie in two parts on the ground at their feet. They are standing in front of Megan and Cueball. Cueball is holding a closed pokéball while Megan checks the time on her watch. The front most Pikachu, holding a closed pokéball, speaks.]
Pikachu at the front: Pikachu, I choose you!


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Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

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  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

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