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*[[List of all comics]] contains a table of most recent xkcd comics and links to the rest, and the corresponding explanations. There are incomplete explanations listed [[:Category:Incomplete articles|here]]. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
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*If see that a new comic hasn't yet been explained yet, you can create it: '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Here's how]]'''.
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Revision as of 10:19, 21 June 2013

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Name Dominoes
In competition, you can only play a name if you know who the person is. No fair saying "Frank ... Johnson. That sounds like a real person! Let me just Google him real quick."
Title text: In competition, you can only play a name if you know who the person is. No fair saying "Frank ... Johnson. That sounds like a real person! Let me just Google him real quick."
  • A large version of the comic picture can be found here.
  • A numbered version can be found here.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a Domino: Do NOT delete this tag too soon. Someone should create 1) a table with all names with wiki links and explanation, especially on inside jokes and 2) a full transcript... and good luck with that. The transcript should not have wiki links they are for the table!

Dominoes is a family of boardgames played with rectangular "domino" tiles. A domino tile is divided into two squares, each displaying a number. Under most rules, a domino tile is placed on the table adjacent to another tile, and the adjacent ends must match in some way (namely by the number displayed on the touching ends). Randall's "name dominoes" shows a set of domino tiles with people's names instead of numbers, and adjacent tiles are matched by whether the closest name is the same (such as how Chris Evans' family name matches Evan Taylor Jones' given name).

The title text spells out a rule that a player may only place a tile if they know who that person is. This is a variation of a rule in Scrabble, where a player loses a turn if their chosen word don't survive a dictionary challenge over the validity of the word. This rule implies that players are allowed to create new name dominoes tiles and that it is not a fixed set. In this case the player that is challenged has used the name Frank Johnson of which there are 12 exact matches on Wikipedia along with six with a middle name and more. In a google search as of the day the comic came out the first hit was Frank Johnson who is a retired American professional basketball player and coach. Randall has made several references to basketball in his comics.

A large board is covered in rectangular "dominoes" (270), with each domino bearing the name of a "well-known" person or character (fictional). The dominoes are arranged as if a game of dominoes were being played, but instead of the game requiring the number of spots of adjacent dominoes to match up, this game requires adjacent names to match up. Because most people have two or more names, different matches are made at each end of a domino. Fun fact is that two of the people is "named after" the game: Fats Domino and Domino Harvey.

The match can be exact (e.g., "Kevin" on one domino adjacent to "Kevin" on another), homonymic (e.g., "Klein" adjacent to "Kline"), or nickname-based (e.g., "James" adjacent to "Jimmy", which in turn is adjacent to "Jim"). Sometimes last names are matched up with first names (e.g., "Elizabeth Warren" adjacent to "Warren Beatty"), and in some cases only a single name is used (e.g., "Columbo", "Drake", "Garfield", "Prince"), in which case a half-size square "domino" might be used, or it might be a full size one ("Batman", "Garnet", "Superman"). Some people have three or more names (e.g., Frank Lloyd Wright), in which case a 50% longer than normal domino results and matching to a middle name (Lloyd) is possible. There doesn't appear to be absolute consistency on the length of the domino vs the number of words in the name.

The names come from a wide variety of fields: scientists (e.g., Isaac Newton), historical figures (George Washington), musicians (Drake), politicians (John Kerry), actors (Kevin Costner), writers (Washington Irving), fashion designers (Oscar de la Renta), and so on. Most of the names are real people but a few are fictional characters, possibly non-human like "Garfield and (Super Grover). In one case the nick name for a company is used: Ma Bell aka Bell System.

One notable reference beyond just the use of a name is in the bottom left, there is the connection [ William Safire ][ Garnet ][ Ruby, Jack ]. At first the only connection seems to be that Sapphire, Garnet and Ruby are all gemstones. At first this seems to be an incorrect connection as for the rules of the game. However, this is in reference to the character Garnet in the cartoon Steven Universe, who is a "fusion" formed by two Gems: Ruby and Sapphire, hence the legal connection in the Name Dominoes... Randall has previously made references to this universe in 1608: Hoverboard. (See this and this image from that comic).

Another potential mismatch is Topher Grace, where "Topher" is matched to several instances of "Chris," and both names may be shortenings of "Christopher."

In at least one case it is not entirely clear who is being referred to: "John Kelly" most likely refers to Gen. John F. Kelly, Donald Trump's chief of staff, but the name is extremely common and could equally refer to any number of people.

Table of names

Domino Notability and notes Connections Mode #
Christian Campbell 1
Neve Campbell 2
Joe McCarthy 3
Eugene McCarthy 4
Gene Vincent 5
Gene Kelly 6
Kate Hudson 7
Rock Hudson 8
Gordon Brown 9
James Brown 10
Jon Brown 11
John Howard 12
Columbo 13
Chris Columbus Film director and screenwriter. Columbo
Christopher Columbus
Chris Hughes
Last-Only (approximate)
First-First (approximate) and Last-Last
Christopher Columbus 15
Naomi Campbell 16
Joseph Campbell 17
Joseph Smith 18
Frank Vincent 19
John Kelly 20
Katherine Johnson 21
The Rock 22
Chris Rock 23
Chris Isaac 24
James Newton Howard 25
John Wayne 26
Howard Stern 27
Howard Hunt 28
Chris Hughes 29
Naomi Watts 30
Naomi Klein 31
Kevin Kline 32
Francis Bacon 33
Francis Drake 34
Lyndon Johnson 35
Oscar the Grouch 36
Oscar Isaac 37
Isaac Hayes 38
Isaac Newton 39
Wayne Newton 40
Wayne Knight 41
Helen Hunt 42
Helen Hughes 43
James Watt (Steam) 44
James Watt (Interior) 45
Kevin Costner 46
Kevin Bacon 47
Kevin Love 48
Lisa Frank 49
Frank Drake 50
Drake 51
Oscar de la Renta 52
Oscar de la Hoya 53
Sean Hayes 54
Wallace Shawn 55
Wayne Howard 56
Wayne Brady 57
James Brady 58
Tom Brady 59
Helen Thomas 60
Tom Hanks 61
Hank Aaron 62
Aaron Carter 63
Stephen James 64
Will Smith 65
Kevin Smith 66
Kein James 67
Garfield 68
James Garfield 69
Warren Buffett 70
Jimmy Buffett 71
Warren Beatty 72
Elizabeth Warren 73
Earl Warren 74
Eliabeth Kolbert 75
Stephen Colbert 76
George Wallace 77
Charles Wallace 78
James Monroe 79
Marilyn Monroe 80
Hank Williams 81
William C. Williams 82
Steve Harvey 83
Domino Harvey 84
Harvey Milk 85
James Saint James 86
Etta James (1) Used again in 266 87
Jim Jones 88
James Earl Jones 89
Charlie Parker 90
Ray Parker Jr. 91
Ray Charles 92
Charles Manson 93
Marilyn Manson 94
Robin Williams 95
Billy D. Williams 96
Will Wright 97
Fats Domino 98
Bill Clinton 99
Jimmy John 100
Tom Jones 101
Tommy John 102
Quincy Jones 103
James Earl Ray 104
Man Ray 105
Rachel Ray 106
Ray Allen 107
Tim Allen 108
Tim Cook 109
Tim Howard 110
Robin Wright 111
Wilbur Wright 112
Fatty Arbuckle 113
Fat Joe 114
George Clinton 115
John Kerry 116
Kerry Washington 117
John Irving 118
John Quincy Adams 119
John Adams 120
Amy Adams 121
Aimee Mann 122
Superman 123
Batman 124
Ayn Rand 125
Lily Allen 126
Paul Allen 127
Ron Howard 128
Howard Hughes 129
Joe Kennedy 130
George Bush 131
George Wasington 132
Wasington Irving 133
Martha Wasington 134
Ma Rainey 135
Jack Ma 136
Super Grover 137
Jack Black 138
Rand Paul 139
Paul Ryan 140
Paul Simon 141
Ron Paul 142
John Hughes 143
Langston Hughes 144
John F. Kennedy 145
Little Richard 146
Rich Little 147
Martha Stewart 148
Yo Yo Ma 149
Ma Bell Aka Bell System, the system of companies, led by the Bell Telephone Company and later by AT&T, which provided telephone services to much of the United States and Canada from 1877 to 1984. 150
Grover Cleveland Alexander 151
Grover Cleveland 152
Jack White 153
Jack Ryan 154
Debby Ryan 155
Carly Simon 156
Carly Hughes 157
Charles Evans Hughes 158
John Williams 159
Little John 160
Stuart Little 161
Potter Stewart 162
Kristen Stewart 163
Kristen Bell 164
Kristen Hooks 165
Alexander Graham Bell 166
Franklin Graham 167
Lloyd Alexander 168
Meg White 169
Meg ryan 170
Debbie Reynolds 171
John Reynolds 172
Carly Fiorina 173
Grace Lee Boggs 174
Wade Boggs 175
William Safire 176
Prince William 177
Little Prince 178
Harry Potter 179
James Potter 180
James Hook 181
James Dean 182
Aretha Franklin 183
Frank Lloyd Wright 184
Barry White 185
Walter White 186
Walt Whitman 187
John Kelly 188
Grace Lee 189
Nancy Grace 190
Garnet A garnet is a gem stone and the two names around here are William Safire (almost Sapphire) and Jack Ruby as in Ruby. But it is not just used because they are all gemstones. It is instead a reference to the character Garnet in the cartoon Steven Universe. She is a "fusion" formed by two gems: Ruby and Sapphire, hence the legal connection in the Name Dominoes... Randall has previously made references to this universe in 1608: Hoverboard. (See this and this image from that comic). William Safire
Jack Ruby
Last-Only (as a Sapphire gem stone)
Last-Only (as a Ruby gem stone)
Both used to fuse together to Garnet.
Prince 192
Prince Felder 193
Prince Harry 194
Harry Styles 195
John Dean 196
Benjamin Franklin 197
Harrold Lloyd 198
Harrold Ford 199
Betty White 200
Meg Whitman 201
Christine Todd Whitman 202
Megyn Kelly 203
Grace Kelly 204
Grace Jones 205
Jack Nicholson 206
Jack Ruby 207
Jack Russel 208
Harry Fielder 209
Harry Trueman 210
Harry Jon Benjamin 211
John Edward 212
Benjamin Harrison 213
Harrison Ford 214
Henry Ford 215
Betty Ford 216
Betty Friedan 217
Chris Christie 218
Chris Pratt 219
Maggie Grace 220
Grace Hopper 221
Russel Crowe 222
Russ Smith 223
John Smith 224
Justin Long 225
John Bel Edwards 226
John Candy 227
John Henry 228
Henry James 229
Bill James 230
Chirs Cooper 231
Chirs Hemsworth 232
Chirs Evans 233
Topher Grace 234
Van Morrison 235
Sheryl Crow 236
Sheryl Sandberg 237
Cameron Crow 238
Long John Silver 239
Olivia Newton John 240
Huey long 241
John Edwards 242
Candy Crowley 243
Alestier Crowley 244
James Fenimore Cooper 245
James Cook 18th century British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Alistair Cooke
Cokie Roberts
Alistair Cookie
James Fenimore Cooper
Last-Last (approximate)
Last-First (approximate)
Last-Last (approximate)
Robert Frost 247
Bob Evans 248
Evan Tayler Jones 249
James Cameron 250
Cam Newton 251
Cameron Diaz 252
Huey Newton 253
Huey Lewis 254
John Lewis 255
Jenny Lewis 256
Ryan Lewis 257
Burt Reynolds 258
Alistair Cooke Name misspelled Alistiar Cooke in the comic. 259
Alistair Cookie A parody of Alistair Cooke "played" by Cookie Monster in the Sesame Street sketch "Monsterpiece Theatre" in the 1980s, a parody of the PBS series "Masterpiece Theatre". James Cook
Alastair Reynolds
Last-Last (approximate)
First-First (approximate)
Cokie Roberts 261
John Roberts 262
Robert Johnson 263
Robert E. Lee 264
Tommy Lee 265
Tommy Lee Jones 266
Etta James (2) Used first time in 86 267
John Oliver 268
Ryan Reynolds 269
Alastair Reynolds 270


[This comic a large grid with 270 black "domino" tiles. On each tile there is a name written with white text. The grid is arranged so that each touching side corresponds with the first or last name of another person (or at least there are some kind of relation between the names on the end of connecting tiles). Some of the domino tiles are rotated 90, 180 or 270 degrees so the text is either to be read down, up-side down or up. The names on the tiles are listed here below in approximate reading order, thus staring top left and moving over the grid from left to right and down. Each swipe left to right covers approximately tiles that are within a span of one standard tile in height. To be exact it lists the names in the order they were numbered in this image. One name is used twice, Etta James.]
Christian Campbell
Neve Campbell
Joe McCarthy
Eugene McCarthy
Gene Vincent
Gene Kelly
Kate Hudson
Rock Hudson
Gordon Brown
James Brown
Jon Brown
John Howard
Chris Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Naomi Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph Smith
Frank Vincent
John Kelly
Katherine Johnson
The Rock
Chris Rock
Chris Isaac
James Newton Howard
John Wayne
Howard Stern
Howard Hunt
Chris Hughes
Naomi Watts
Naomi Klein
Kevin Kline
Francis Bacon
Francis Drake
Lyndon Johnson
Oscar the Grouch
Oscar Isaac
Isaac Hayes
Isaac Newton
Wayne Newton
Wayne Knight
Helen Hunt
Helen Hughes
James Watt (Steam)
James Watt (Interior)
Kevin Costner
Kevin Bacon
Kevin Love
Lisa Frank
Frank Drake
Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Hoya
Sean Hayes
Wallace Shawn
Wayne Howard
Wayne Brady
James Brady
Tom Brady
Helen Thomas
Tom Hanks
Hank Aaron
Aaron Carter
Stephen James
Will Smith
Kevin Smith
Kein James
James Garfield
Warren Buffett
Jimmy Buffett
Warren Beatty
Elizabeth Warren
Earl Warren
Eliabeth Kolbert
Stephen Colbert
George Wallace
Charles Wallace
James Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Hank Williams
William C. Williams
Steve Harvey
Domino Harvey
Harvey Milk
James Saint James
Etta James
Jim Jones
James Earl Jones
Charlie Parker
Ray Parker Jr.
Ray Charles
Charles Manson
Marilyn Manson
Robin Williams
Billy D. Williams
Will Wright
Fats Domino
Bill Clinton
Jimmy John
Tom Jones
Tommy John
Quincy Jones
James Earl Ray
Man Ray
Rachel Ray
Ray Allen
Tim Allen
Tim Cook
Tim Howard
Robin Wright
Wilbur Wright
Fatty Arbuckle
Fat Joe
George Clinton
John Kerry
Kerry Washington
John Irving
John Quincy Adams
John Adams
Amy Adams
Aimee Mann
Ayn Rand
Lily Allen
Paul Allen
Ron Howard
Howard Hughes
Joe Kennedy
George Bush
George Wasington
Wasington Irving
Martha Wasington
Ma Rainey
Jack Ma
Super Grover
Jack Black
Rand Paul
Paul Ryan
Paul Simon
Ron Paul
John Hughes
Langston Hughes
John F. Kennedy
Little Richard
Rich Little
Martha Stewart
Yo Yo Ma
Ma Bell
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Grover Cleveland
Jack White
Jack Ryan
Debby Ryan
Carly Simon
Carly Hughes
Charles Evans Hughes
John Williams
Little John
Stuart Little
Potter Stewart
Kristen Stewart
Kristen Bell
Kristen Hooks
Alexander Graham Bell
Franklin Graham
Lloyd Alexander
Meg White
Meg ryan
Debbie Reynolds
John Reynolds
Carly Fiorina
Grace Lee Boggs
Wade Boggs
William Safire
Prince William
Little Prince
Harry Potter
James Potter
James Hook
James Dean
Aretha Franklin
Frank Lloyd Wright
Barry White
Walter White
Walt Whitman
John Kelly
Grace Lee
Nancy Grace
Prince Felder
Prince Harry
Harry Styles
John Dean
Benjamin Franklin
Harrold Lloyd
Harrold Ford
Betty White
Meg Whitman
Christine Todd Whitman
Megyn Kelly
Grace Kelly
Grace Jones
Jack Nicholson
Jack Ruby
Jack Russel
Harry Fielder
Harry Trueman
Harry Jon Benjamin
John Edward
Benjamin Harrison
Harrison Ford
Henry Ford
Betty Ford
Betty Friedan
Chris Christie
Chris Pratt
Maggie Grace
Grace Hopper
Russel Crowe
Russ Smith
John Smith
Justin Long
John Bel Edwards
John Candy
John Henry
Henry James
Bill James
Chirs Cooper
Chirs Hemsworth
Chirs Evans
Topher Grace
Van Morrison
Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Sandberg
Cameron Crow
Long John Silver
Olivia Newton John
Huey long
John Edwards
Candy Crowley
Alestier Crowley
James Fenimore Cooper
James Cook
Robert Frost
Bob Evans
Evan Tayler Jones
James Cameron
Cam Newton
Cameron Diaz
Huey Newton
Huey Lewis
John Lewis
Jenny Lewis
Ryan Lewis
Burt Reynolds
Alistiar Cooke
Alistair Cookie
Cokie Roberts
John Roberts
Robert Johnson
Robert E. Lee
Tommy Lee
Tommy Lee Jones
Etta James
John Oliver
Ryan Reynolds
Alastair Reynolds

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