Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Waldir moved page Explain xkcd to explain xkcd: page titles are case-sensitive now)
m (Waldir moved page explain xkcd to Main Page: revert move)

Revision as of 19:57, 12 August 2012

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! We already have Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". comic explanations!

(But there are still Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character ",". to go. Come and add yours!)

Latest comic

Go to this comic

Presidential Alert
When putting his kids to bed, after saying 'Goodnight', Obama has to stop himself from saying 'God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.'
Title text: When putting his kids to bed, after saying 'Goodnight', Obama has to stop himself from saying 'God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.'
Current EAS logo. (from Wikimedia Commons)


The Emergency Alert System allows the U.S. President to address the country in the event of a national emergency, by broadcasting a message over all television and radio channels. Despite the system's having existed in various forms for over 60 years, no president has ever used it, even during the September 11 attacks.

In this comic, the US President accidentally activates the system by pressing a button, apparently located on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. Surprised by being on television, he tries to think of something important to say on the spot, but cannot think of anything other than a piece of generic dental-hygiene advice—a rather non-urgent message.

An alternative explanation is that he is actually supposed to tell everyone some really bad news - like a total nuclear attack or an asteroid is about to destroy the US (or that Ebola has become airborne in the US...) And then he chickens out (or decides there is no need to know a few minutes in advance) and try to explain that the alert was a mistake - finishing quite lame on the dental flush advice.

The concept of the President mistakenly hitting an important button has long been a source for jokes, often somewhat morbidly involving the nuclear football.

The title text references the typical conclusion to presidential speeches: "Goodnight, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America," or some variation thereof. As "goodnight" is the typical conclusion to a day, the title text jokes that President Obama has a hard time stopping at goodnight when saying that to his children.


[Television beeping.]
Screen reads: "E.A.S Incoming Presidential Alert"
[Person in an office is on the television.]
My fellow Americans. I, uhhh. Wow.
Frankly, I didn't realize what this button did. I was just... I mean... I appear before you tonight to, um.
Look, uhh...
Remember to floss regularly. Oral hygiene is important. Thank you.

New here?

Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the explain xkcd 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.

  • 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!


Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations, feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to—and helping everyone better understand—xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users posting such are at risk of being blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

Explain xkcd logo courtesy of User:Alek2407.

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?