Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 09:34, 21 June 2013 by Davidy22 (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have an explanation for all 5 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Listen, in a few thousand years you'll invent a game called 'SimCity' which has a 'disaster' button, and then you'll understand.
Title text: Listen, in a few thousand years you'll invent a game called 'SimCity' which has a 'disaster' button, and then you'll understand.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: More details needed, for instance is there a specific reference to the burning of the Earth in the bible before Noah, or is this just the meteor(s) in the past? And what about the planned Armageddon, is that then off? More about issues with raccoons and what immortality would do to an ecosystem. More about the sims for the title text explanation. Are there other hidden meanings/interpretations?

In this comic Cueball, possibly representing the patriarch Noah from the Abrahamic religions, talks to God after the biblical flood. He asks what the coloured band across the sky is, and God tells him it is a rainbow. According to the Book of Genesis, God placed the worlds first rainbow in the sky as a promise to humanity that he would never again make a flood to cleanse the world of sin (Genesis 9:2–17). A rainbow is an optical phenomenon caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky, one of many light phenomena caused by sunlight and precipitation.

Then cueball notices a double rainbow outside the original promise rainbow. Secondary rainbows are caused by double reflection of sunlight inside the raindrops. When asked about this God seems to falter, but recovers and claims he made it to show that he will never again set the Earth on fire. As an afterthought he says sorry about that, although it was a while back. This may refer to the early Earth being a liquid ball of molten rock (the Hadean period), or later global fire catastrophes caused by asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions.

Cueball begins to notice some other types of halos that can appear around the sun (or the moon). The one he spots is most likely the circular 22° halo, which is a halo forming a circle with a radius of approximately 22° around the Sun, or occasionally the Moon. God promptly claims it is a promise to never again make raccoons immortal as it destroyed the Earth's ecosystem. Although today these animals can be a pest, see 1565: Back Seat, they are luckily not immortal. Randall is likely referring to an unkillable form of immortality rather than biological immortal as while that would likely cause some issues, the raccoons can still fall to predation and disease. Should raccoons have been rendered unkillable by predation or disease as well as senescance then the combination of an average gestational period of 65 days, a litter size of 2-5 individuals, and an omnivorous appetite makes for a creature that could easily dominate any and all ecological niches.

The third bow could also be a "tertiary rainbow", which forms a ring around the sun, but is normally lost in the glare of the sunlight passing through raindrops. A What if... about rainbows which mentions this third rainbow was released on the same day as this comic.

Cueball continues by noticing two sun dogs (or parahelia) which often co-occur with the 22° halo. These consist of a pair of bright spots either side on the Sun, intersected by the halo. God gets tired of this and tries to stop Cueball by saying that he has said sorry, and asks him to drop the subject. That is probably sensible because there are 23 different atmospheric optical phenomena listed on Wikipedia alone. Following the logic of the comic and the evasive answer of God, it could mean there are some more skeletons in the closet.

The title text is a continuation where God tells Cueball that in the future humanity will invent a game called SimCity. This is a strategy computer game in which the player creates and manages an environment wherein sims autonomously build a city (or in later versions a country, or a planet). The player has God-like control of the world, including a disaster button, for when the player can't wait for a disaster to happen by chance. God is suggesting that it is too tempting, once a civilization has been built up, to push the disaster button just to see what happens.

Overall the comic pokes fun at the idea of explaining natural phenomena as messages from a deity.


[Noah, here represented as Cueball, is looking up on a rainbow band going through the top right corner of the panel. The band displays the following colors from outward and in: Red, yellow, green, blue and purple. A black blob in the bottom of the panel right of Noah, has white text with the reply from God to Noah's questions. This continues through the rest of the comic.]
Noah: Wow, God- What's that band of color?
God: A rainbow.
God: It is a sign of my promise that I will never again flood the Earth.
[In this frameless panel Noah is not looking so much up. God's reply is split in two black blobs with a small connection between them.]
Noah: Oh, good! Hey, what about that second bow above the first one?
God: Oh, uh, sign of my promise not to set the earth on fire.
God: Sorry for doing that a while back.
[Noah points left, God's black reply blob hangs higher, only above Noah's shoulders]
Noah: What about that third faint bow near the sun?
God: My promise to never again destroy Earth's ecosystem by making raccoons immortal.
[Noah points even higher up towards left, with God's reply situated as before]
Noah: And the little rainbow clouds on either side of-
God: Look, I said I'm sorry. Can we just drop it?

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

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.

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.

  • 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 here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • If see that a new comic hasn't yet been explained yet, you can create it: Here's how.


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 who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.

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?