2197: Game Show

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Game Show
Eventually they agreed to "an auto-retracting dog leash with one end clipped to your house, so you can press the button on the handle and water-ski home."
Title text: Eventually they agreed to "an auto-retracting dog leash with one end clipped to your house, so you can press the button on the handle and water-ski home."


Many shows have situations where the participants are asked hypothetical questions. A common hypothetical question asked to ascertain what someone considers most important to them is the one item they would take to a deserted island – to make the best of a boring situation.

Black Hat is on such a game show, and he does his best to undermine the intent of the question. Instead of answering with a favorite item – such as his favorite album or book – he goes on a WikiWalk through various things (see below), which he doesn't own and apparently expects the show's producers to provide him, starting with somewhat reasonable means of escape (e.g., a plane) to increasingly absurd items that appear to be chosen solely based on how difficult they would be to actually provide (e.g., the entire Atlantic Ocean). The items appear to follow Black Hat's stream of consciousness, starting with a boat, then a plane, then a distinctive lost plane, the bones of the pilot of that plane, the internal structure (similar to bones) of the famed landmark Statue of Liberty, etc.

The title text reveals that the game show has ultimately acquiesced to one of Black Hat's wishes in a way: the dog leash mentioned would allow him to water-ski home, though such a dog leash is implausible (for example, a dog leash from San Francisco to Hawaii would be over 2000 miles long).

List of Black Hat's items[edit]

  • A boat, so he could sail home.
  • A plane, so he could fly home.
  • Amelia Earhart's plane. Moving from reasonable methods of escape to more absurd items, Black Hat requests a plane that is currently lost and may never be discovered. Amelia Earhart was a female U.S. aviator who went missing in the Pacific Ocean in 1937 on an attempt to circumnavigate earth. The search for her crash site has gone on sporadically since she disappeared, and there's still keen interest in finding her -- and coming up with interesting new ideas to guess where she crashed. This answer is a funny continuation of Black Hat's 2nd answer, a plane. Black Hat doesn't just want any plane, he wants a plane that was famous for going down in a unknown spot in the ocean. If the producers of the show were to provide Black Hat with the plane they would have to first surmount an unsolved problem (i.e., where is Amelia Earhart's plane).
  • Amelia Earhart's skeleton. Moving on from her plane, and being somewhat macabre in the process, Black Hat suggests Amelia Earhart's bones. Similar to her plane this would require the producers to find something that currently is not located. Also, given the biodegradability of bones there is perhaps a higher likelihood that the bones simply do not exist anymore, making the request potentially impossible.
  • The internal structure of the Statue of Liberty was built by Gustave Eiffel, best known for his work on the Eiffel Tower. This is a continuation of the skeleton answer, as it is the internal support of the statue, similar to the function of human bones. It might also be a reference to the film Planet of the Apes, in which the remnants of the Statue of Liberty serve as a famous piece of scenery. This does not require the search that Amelia Earhart's plane (or bones) would require, but might be equally difficult given the status of the statue as a national symbol and given that the statue is on an island in full view of many people who might object to interference. This is in addition to the logistical difficulties of transporting the internal structure of a large statue, and even extracting it whilst possibly not intending to disturb the now unsupported 'skin'.
  • The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom are a continuation of the theme of national symbols. The Crown Jewels are ceremonial objects owned by the kings and queens of the UK. The items are kept under heavy guard and are valued at about $4 billion. Their acquisition would be nearly impossible[citation needed]; however, if they were acquired, it would result in an international hunt, which may help Black Hat escape the island.
  • The entire television audience for the show, so it wouldn't be deserted anymore — and potentially to punish them for being entertained at the mean idea of having contestants be deserted on an island. If this is a popular channel/show, this could potentially be millions of people, all of whom have at least been exposed to the idea of making the most of a boring and potentially life-threatening situation. Then at least it would no longer be a deserted island, but of course it would be even more difficult to survive. This seems to follow from the previous point in that it is something that would trigger a massive search (in this case, due to not only a large group of people but a specific large group of people suddenly going missing).
  • The Greenland ice sheet is the body of ice covering the island of Greenland. As the second largest ice sheet on Earth, it could cause catastrophic environmental damage, ignoring the sheer magnitude of the task, which would be well beyond the capabilities of any television show[citation needed] and probably beyond the capabilities of an international effort. This one seems to follow from the previous point in that it is a massive undertaking to get the 'request' to Black Hat's island.
  • Earth's north magnetic pole is the point on earth toward which all compasses point because of magnetohydrodynamic ('magic') forces in the earth's mantle. If all compasses were to suddenly point to his location, many scientists would investigate, they would converge on his deserted island, and Black Hat would be rescued. Moving the pole would be more difficult than moving the ice sheet, but it continues Black Hat's stream of consciousness in that it is a major geological feature of the planet.
  • The Atlantic Ocean is another major geological feature. Moving it would be orders of magnitude more difficult than moving the Greenland ice sheet, and would cause abrupt and extreme changes to the planet's ecosystem.[citation needed] It is unclear how Black Hat would like the ocean delivered. If he wants it to remain an ocean separate from the Pacific, it would require a container of incredible size; if he simply wants the water, it would create a Sisyphean task unless the entire Atlantic Ocean was walled off from all other sources of water. Additionally, the Atlantic Ocean is far too salty to be drinkable, so it's not clear what use he could get out of it (and if he has — or requests — some kind of desalination equipment, it would work just as well on Pacific water). This continues Black Hat's stream of consciousness in that it is yet another major geological feature of the planet.
  • A retractable leash (title text), to water-ski home. This would not work under normal circumstances, as the leash would have to be impossibly long.


[Cueball, Black Hat, and Megan are game show contestants standing behind lecterns with Hairy standing in front of them as the game show host. Black Hat, standing in the middle of the three, is holding a finger up while speaking.]
Black Hat: A boat. A plane. Amelia Earhart's plane. Amelia Earhart's skeleton. The Statue of Liberty's internal support frame. The Crown Jewels. This show's entire television audience. The Greenland ice sheet. Earth's north magnetic pole.
Black Hat: Am I in the Pacific Ocean? If so, the Atlantic Ocean.
Hairy: Uhh.
Hairy: Our producers are going to need some time on this one.
[Caption below the panel:]
The game show realized that they should have added some restrictions to their "take any item to a deserted island" challenge, but it was too late.

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Suggestion for comic explanation: Black Hat does the things that Black Hat always does. -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'm unable to find a single instance of any game show ever asking this sort of question. 22:35, 2 September 2019 (UTC)

The wording of the caption implies this is a new show which was not well thought out. And, as is usual for XKCD, completely fictional. However the QUESTION is an old and common thought experiment, seemingly to get to know a person better by finding out what they value. This is just suggesting somebody made a game show out of the question. Often, as the commenter below seems to have linked to, the question is specifically about what handful of musical albums you'd bring (in other words, what music would you not get sick of after hearing it a million times). NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:42, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

How about https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Island_Discs?

   Desktop link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Island_Discs

Note that Desert Island Discs does have a restriction on the item to be taken to the desert island - it must be a luxury item of no practical use. (Note you also get the bible and the complete works of Shakespeare thrown in for nothing). 07:53, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

Desert Island Discs is not a game show: it isn't competitive and has no prizes. It's more like a celebrity interview or chat show. 13:39, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
The usual version of this question being asked on a game show is more like the "getting to know the contestants" trope, and could reasonably be considered to be a microcosm of the DID programme. OhFFS (talk) 15:36, 3 September 2019 (UTC)
The long running "Expedition Robinson" a.k.a. "Survivor" franchise does have the concept of a single personal item that each contestant may bring to the island. At least the original Swedish version does. I don't know about the 50+ other versions of the show. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_(franchise) and https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264245/. Epsilon (talk) 07:36, 9 September 2019 (UTC)

I find myself wondering what Black Hat would do if he had the skeleton. Probably some kind over-elaborate scheme to mess with people? Or maybe it's just because there are so many people who'd be interested in the possibility of bringing it back from a desert island. Angel (talk) 01:07, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

At first it looks like Black Hat is playing a different type of game show game - to associate each item to the one before. The links are mode of transport, plane, relating to Earhart, internal structure, has a crown. Beyond that, items seem to simply be random and hard to obtain.-- 01:53, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

  • Well, when you consider that Queen Elizabeth is a big fan of this show... --Account (talk) 02:05, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

Seems like water skiing back home would also require skis. Miamiclay (talk) 06:25, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

Seems DgbrtBOT failed because of the interactivity of the How To release day comic 2198: Throw, which came out on a Tuesday, the release day! --Kynde (talk) 07:45, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

I have tried to create it, and the REDIRECT 2198 page as well. Hope it works... --Kynde (talk) 07:48, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

Is part of the joke also that in pedantic logic "any" can be more than one item? Which is why he lists so many things? 08:40, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

Having the crown jewels would quite garanty him to return to continent, I guess, as UK would want to get it back.

08:47, 3 September 2019 (UTC)Thy

I disagree with some of the suggested motivations for Black Hat's items. I think in most cases he is simply listing things that he knows would be impossible to supply - not because he wants the fame of finding or owning them. Amelia Earhart's plane is lost to history, as is her skeleton (which would be subject to laws regarding the treatment of remains in any case, so it would be difficult to give this to Black Hat). The internal skeleton of the Statue of Liberty is currently holding up the Statue of Liberty; removing this would be difficult and probably illegal as it would destroy a historic landmark. The Crown Jewels belong to the British monarchy and cannot be sold, and stealing them would be difficult (and illegal). The audience of the show are people, not items, and would not consent to being taken to a deserted island. Greenland's ice sheet is too large and heavy to supply. Earth's North magnetic pole is a conceptual point, not an item. Transplanting an entire ocean into another one would be difficult (and probably illegal). Hawthorn (talk) 12:28, 3 September 2019 (UTC)

According to the current article, if Black Hat was given the entire television audience to take with him, "then at least it would no longer be a deserted island, but of course it would be even more difficult to survive." But why? Does Black Hat seem the type to be disturbed by cannibalism? Wouldn't a crowded island make it easier (for at least one person) to survive? 17:37, 4 September 2019 (UTC)

I seriously doubt he would survive. Assume for a moment that you are not particularly interested in getting dumped on a remote island, expecting to fend for yourself. But black hat wanted to bring the entire audience. So you wake up one morning and realize you have been transported to said island. Then you happen to meet the person responsible for your predicament. Now, you yourself might be a good christian and meek as a lamb. But in a large audience you must assume there are a number of people that are not. Epsilon (talk) 07:14, 9 September 2019 (UTC)