1136: Broken Mirror

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Broken Mirror
'I see you're in this mood again.' 'I am always in this mood.'
Title text: 'I see you're in this mood again.' 'I am always in this mood.'


It is a common superstition that breaking a mirror will result in 7 years of bad luck. Black Hat mocks the superstition, claiming that all is random, but ultimately cause the superstition to become true as his nihilistic apathy prevents him believing that cleaning the glass on the floor will have a significant impact. The joke is that Black Hat will likely get glass in his feet as long as he refuses to clean it, and thus the broken mirror will have a lasting impact.

Black Hat breaks a mirror and sarcastically claims that it will bring bad luck for 7 years, implying that the broken mirror will have no impact on his life. After Cueball reminds Black Hat that the broken mirror will at least cause him to clean up the glass. Black Hat responds with a quote from Ecclesiastes that explains "being clean" (doing good) or "being unclean" (doing bad) things does not affect whether good or bad things happen to us. Due to Black Hat's interpretation of Ecclesiastes, he is not going to clean the shards, and thus be "unclean", and feels nihilistically that this will not significantly alter his life. Of course, it will have an impact as he will get glass in his feet if he does not clean it.

Black Hat continues saying that "My fate is as these shards", mirroring another quote from Ecclesiastes "For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals". Cueball tries to cheer up Black Hat by reminding him that life is not that bad, "it's just a vanity mirror". (A "vanity" is a North American synonym for a "dressing table".) Black Hat responds, "All is vanity mirrors". "All is vanity" is another quote from Ecclesiastes; this line is repeated throughout the book and refers to impermanence of man and his creations. As the mirror just broke, its impermanence is apparent.

It is possible that this is a reference to the now-defunct webcomic Men in Hats and its character Aram, specifically in this page. Aram has been described as the inspiration for Black Hat in 29: Hitler.

In the title text Cueball says "I see you're in this mood again" to which Black Hat responds, "I am always in this mood". This is a reference to Black Hat being a nihilist in his other appearances.

Breaking mirrors is also mentioned in 2447: Hammer Incident.


The rejection of the idea that good things happen to good people, and therefore the rejections of concepts like karma, is one of the primary tenets of the Abrahamic faiths. The argument goes that if people deserve what happens to them, then they don't deserve help. This, and the pursuit of justice (fairness, and truth) are the core beliefs that prescribe that each person has an individual responsibility to help others, so that justice can be achieved. Since Black Hat is by no means charitable, this belief clearly never took root.

Quoted sections[edit]

  • Ecclesiastes 9:2, All things come alike to all: One event happens to the righteous and the wicked; To the good, the clean, and the unclean; To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As is the good, so is the sinner; He who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.
  • Ecclesiastes 1:2, "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."
  • Ecclesiastes 1:14, I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
  • Ecclesiastes 2:17, Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:19, For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity.


[Black Hat and Cueball stand in a bedroom. There is a broken mirror on the floor at Black Hat's feet.]
Black Hat: Oops. Guess this means seven more years of the illusion that my actions somehow influence the indifferent hand of probability which governs our lives.
[Black Hat looks down at the broken shards of glass on the floor.]
Cueball: Plus like half an hour of sweeping.
Black Hat: No, I think I'll leave it.
Cueball: You'll get glass in your feet.
Black Hat: Eccles. 9:2—All things come alike to all: to the clean, and to the unclean.
Black Hat: My fate is as these shards.
Cueball: Dude, chill. It's just a vanity mirror.
Black Hat: All is vanity mirrors.


Judging from the damage done to the wall and the way the mirror landed face up, it is likely that Black Hat intentionally broke the mirror.

The way Cueball and Black Hat appears and the subject has some similarities to the next comic 1137: RTL. See the trivia section for that comic.

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The lettering on the first word is unusually sloppy. I thought it said "COPS", as in Black Hat was about to be arrested for breaking the mirror, on the TV show Cops. - Frankie (talk) 11:16, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Yep, I read COPS, too. In another vein, is Black-hat getting all religious on us? Cueball, maybe. Beret guy, more likely. But Black-hat seems to be too machiavellian to quote biblical passages, except as a crutch or an "out". (Edit: now that I think about it, it's the latter: the same fate awaits everybody... as in, everybody will cut their feet on the shards.) -- 20:05, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

Does anyone have an opinion on how Black Hat broke the mirror? If it simply fell from the wall, he would not incur the bad luck. Jsbqvb 15:31, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

I think his point is that it wouldn't matter; there ain't no such thing as bad luck: the same fate awaits everybody. -- 20:05, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
Maybe he did it on purpose, just for that soliloquy at the end (I wouldn't put it past him...).--Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 20:59, 19 November 2012 (UTC)
I'd say so. "My fate is a these shards" ... to cause pain and suffering to all he comes in contact with. -- IronyChef (talk) 06:01, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Time for some more obvious questions, which I dont get! So, why he decided not to tidy it, but to leave shards like that? 05:44, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

What's the significance of the title text? "I am always [something]" rings a faint bell, but I can't place it. Wwoods (talk) 19:49, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

It made me think of "We have always been at war with Eastasia" (from Orwell's 1984) ...but that probably wasn't what Randall meant to evoke. — 22:14, 7 April 2013 (UTC)

Could it be the comic where the title text ends with I AM ALWAYS BREATHING MANUALLY (Skynet, comic 1046) 15:18, 21 November 2012‎ (UTC)

"All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrifices, and to him that does not sacrifice: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that swears an oath, as he that fears the results of a sworn oath." means: Everyone dies eventually.

If you sweep up the shards you will clean most of them up but will not gather every piece for sure. It looks like you care if you do that though. Black hat has an history of not caring. Not that anyone has the right to interpret what another man writes. Nor should one care so deeply as to do so. Especially not for a bloody comic! I think he was just pointing out that Cueball's statement, though possible, was not necessarily true or untrue. I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 14:35, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

Given that Black Hat is known to be based on Aram from Men In Hats, this seems relevant: http://meninhats.com/d/20031022.html 03:39, 28 January 2015 (UTC) The rain, it raineth on the just, And also on the unjust fella. But mainly on the just, because The unjust steals the just's umbrella. 05:49, 29 August 2015 (UTC)

Wanna feel old? Black Hat's cures of bad luck ran down two years ago. 21:40, 10 September 2021 (UTC)