Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2572 xkcd comics, and only 32 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Alien Mission
Fine, we can go search the Himalayas for the Yeti ONE more time, but keep a safe altitude over the Pacific and PLEASE watch where you're going. We can't afford another Amelia Earhart incident.
Title text: Fine, we can go search the Himalayas for the Yeti ONE more time, but keep a safe altitude over the Pacific and PLEASE watch where you're going. We can't afford another Amelia Earhart incident.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by BIGFOOT LOOKING FOR A COPY OF ALIEN (1979) - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

This strip portrays a conversation between two extraterrestrial flying saucers, in which they discuss their long secret observation of earth, only to reveal that at least one of their purposes was to find Bigfoot, which they have apparently been unable to do. The alien on one ship argues that it's time to give up and accept that no such creature exists on earth, while the other appears to hold out hope, in the face of a complete lack[disputed] of evidence.

The first panel alludes to the fact that UFO sightings only became commonplace in the 1940s.

This strip is related to (and may be a continuation of) the previous strip, which dealt with the reasons why UFO photographs are always out-of-focus and/or lacking details. This strip expands on the reasons why these alien ships are visiting earth, which apparently include an unsuccessful attempt to locate cryptids.

The humor derives from the fact that UFO enthusiasts and cryptozoology enthusiasts have a similar mindset: they both believe in phenomena that the scientific establishment declares to be baseless. Both systems are fully lacking in clear scientific evidence, but have an abundance of eyewitness accounts and vague/blurry photographic evidence. And both belief systems have existed for many years, but rapidly advancing technology, accumulating data, and ubiquity of high quality cameras have still failed to capture any clear and detailed evidence of either (a point which Randall seems to find particularly significant). But, while these concepts are so parallel, they're logically independent, as one deals with species that are presumably native to earth, and the other deals with advanced alien species visiting the earth. The notion of alien visitors being interested in cryptozoology is incongruous: to them, all earth animals would presumably seem equally alien.

In previous strips, Randall has suggested playing conspiracy theories off one another (see 966: Jet Fuel). This has a similar theme: suggesting that UFOs are here to search for Bigfoot (and the Yeti) sounds ridiculous on its face. But any explanation of why it's ridiculous would apply equally well to the notion of Bigfoot and UFO's individually.

At least some of the aliens clearly have a similar belief, at least in the Bigfoot/Sasquatch, which is why they came to the Earth. This implies that they had some prior knowledge (or suspicion) of its existence, and only then (possibly) narrowed it down to this one planet.

Their very thorough observation of the Earth (enough to comprehensively catalogue many of its humans and even track individual purchases of camera-technology, etc) seems to have been insufficient to find Bigfoot, but neither has it entirely refuted the claims. At least in the view of some of the holdouts with influence over this mission.

Whatever the arguments about the Sasquatch, the title text reveals a separate discussion regarding the Yeti (a similar large hominid purported to reside in the Himalayas), and the tentative permission to conduct one last search for it. This perhaps implies further unreferenced searches are also being made for the likes of the Loch Ness Monster, Mothman and Chupacabra. It also suggests that they ran into Amelia Earhart while both were flying over the Pacific Ocean, and that's why she disappeared.

That their clearly superior observation technology and methods have been apparently unable to resolve these issues at first seems like it shouldn't bode well for our own cryptozoologists, but the lack of definitively negative results does at least mean there's a degree of job-security, such as there already is.


[Four panels, largely featuring two 'classic' Flying Saucers hovering in the sky with speech-lines indicating communication between the saucers/crew.]
Left Saucer: Sir, can we talk?
Left Saucer: We've been observing earth for almost a century.
Left Saucer: Hovering and zooming from place to place, trying to avoid being spotted by humans.
Right Saucer: Yeah.
[Frameless panel, showing only the left saucer]
Left Saucer: By now we've flown over every inch of the surface many times.
Off-panel from right: Yes? And?
Left Saucer: Face it: if Bigfoot is real, he's not anywhere on this planet.
Right Saucer: But humans have captured some intriguing videos!
Left Saucer: *sigh*
Right Saucer: How else do you explain the...

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 and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.


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.