1401: New

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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The nice thing about headcannnons is that it's really easy to get other people to believe in them.
Title text: The nice thing about headcannnons is that it's really easy to get other people to believe in them.



In fiction, "canon" describes the set of works about a fictional universe that are collectively recognized as having authenticity or being "official". These works collectively define the fictional universe. Other works may be written about fictional universes which are "non-canonical" or "apocrypha". Generally, works created or authorized by the original author(s) or creator(s) of a fictional universe are considered canon while works by others may be considered apocrypha. In other cases, the medium may be a determining factor (e.g. novels or reference books set in a fictional universe which originates in a television show or film may not be considered canon, although these are often also not created by the creators of the show or film). In some cases, the manner in which canonical works are distinguished from apocrypha is not universally agreed among a fanbase. A fiction's canon may be defined by the creators themselves, or determined by fans.

An example is Star Trek canon: Most fans agree that the five live-action television series and ongoing series of feature films (including those produced after the death of the original series' creator) are considered canon, while a plethora of novels and reference books are considered apocrypha. The short-lived Star Trek: The Animated Series is not universally agreed-upon. Some fictional universes have "levels" of canon such as Star Wars canon.


Fans often develop their own ideas about a fictional universe but which is not actually part of the canon. Sometimes these are larger concepts which have gone unspoken and are assumed or agreed upon among the body of fans. In other cases, individual fans make assumptions or invent their own stories/ideas about the fictional universe. These are both examples of "headcanon". This form of pseudo-"canon" exists only in the mind of the fan watching/reading the media. That fan experiences the media with a certain additional backstory or certain elements of headcanon that other fans may not. Future works may confirm headcanon as actual canon, while other headcanon may turn out to conflict with subsequently-introduced canon.

Some examples of headcanon may involve relationships between characters, abilities, backstories, etc. which the author/creator has not explained or included. In certain cases, headcanon may become so ingrained in a fandom that a subsequent work of canon which conflicts with that headcanon may anger fans, even though the headcanon was never an official part of the fictional universe.

As an example of headcanon, we may return to the Star Trek universe: The character Quark runs a bar on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It is canonical that Quark runs the bar and that the crew of the titular space station often patronize the bar. Fans might wonder why, on a station that has "replicators" (devices that can create any food or drink out of energy on demand), anyone would patronize a bar. If an individual or group of fans created and assumed a backstory that, for example, Quark has access to replicator patterns for exotic food or drink which aren't programed into standard replicators, or actual exotic food or drinks which cannot be replicated, that would be headcanon (since the theory was developed without input or sanction from Star Trek's creators). Were the series still running, a future episiode might confirm or contradict that headcanon.

The comic

This strip uses a play on the homophonic relationship between "canon", as above, and "cannon", a projectile weapon. In this strip, Black Hat starts to introduce a "new headcannon" (noting the spelling). Cueball, thinking Black Hat meant "headcanon" inquires what Black Hat's new idea is. Instead of the expected idea or theory about a fictional universe, Black Hat removes his hat to reveal a tiny literal cannon on his head which blows Cueball and his computer desk away.

While headcanon may often be ignored or dismissed as non-canon or a personal theory, a headcannon is far harder to ignore, as it is a physical object which has a notable impact on the real world. Randall appears to address both homophones in the title text by putting three consecutive "n"s in "headcannnon". That he uses all three "n"'s from the two words indicates that he also means that it is easy to make people believe in a self invented headcanons - this may be the actual punch-line of the comic.

This comic also shows Cueball being once again distracted from his work in a manner similar to 1388: Subduction License.


[Black Hat walks in.]
Black Hat: New headcannon:
[Cueball is sitting at his desk, using his computer.]
Cueball: Yeah?
[Black Hat lifts his hat, revealing his "headcannon": a tiny cannon on the top of his head. The headcannon fires and blows up Cueball's desk, the explosion throwing Cueball backwards.]
Headcannon: BOOM
Cueball: AUGH!

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Why are there three n's in headcannnon in the title text? Keavon (talk)

Or as n increases the effort to convince others that the existence/correctness of headca(n)+on decreases? 20:31, 30 July 2014 (UTC)arcturius
I think it's as simple as 1 n in canon (what the pun is based on), 2 n's in cannon (in the comic), and just to keep the pattern going, 3 n's in cannnon (in the title text).-- 05:35, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

That reminds me on Neil Stephensons - The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer... Very nerdy! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Another very common usage of headcanon is when you REMOVE something from your headcanon - that is, pretend that it never happened, despite it being canon. Often it's case of not-really-good sequels. Or later edits: see Han shot first. -- Hkmaly (talk) 10:35, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

I thought that headcanon was everything fans imagined, not just what contradicts canon. -- 16:32, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Anyone note that the computer is completely undamaged (from the cannonfire at least, no telling about when it strikes the floor), despite the desk being demolished? Zowayix (talk) 13:14, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Worth mentioning the alternate term "fanon", at all? (Currently third but unlinking item Wikipedia link, or the more dangerous (in the Comic 214 sense) TVTropes link... ) 13:22, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

I'd say no, fanon is headcanon that is accepted in huge parts of the fandom. -- 16:32, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

New headcanon: Black Hat Guy always has a headcannon under his hat, and in this comic he is simply showing Cueball that he got a new one. 14:12, 30 July 2014 (UTC)Matthew

Not true. In other comics where he hasn't had his hat, he did not have a cannon on his head. 15:40, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Canon (in Greek: Kanon, Arabic: Qanon, Hebrew: Kaneh) means reed, or straight. Thus trustworthy. [1] Seebert (talk) 14:38, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Black Hat is shown to have short dark hair. That's new xkcd canon. As far as I know, he'd always been shown wearing a hat completely covering his hair until now. --Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 15:33, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Not new. http://xkcd.com/377/ 15:40, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
I always assumed black hat and white hat(perhaps all the cast) were aspects of Cueball,s psyc, a jungian zoo. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Ra-Ra-Rasputin (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

"The title text is a pun on the homophones *canon* and *cannon*" ... uh, the whole entire COMIC is a pun on the homophones *canon* and *cannon*. 18:16, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Kudos to the author(s) of the example using Quark. One of the best-written explanations on this wiki. jameslucas (" " / +) 22:42, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

"Fans might wonder why, on a station that has "replicators" (devices that can create any food or drink out of energy on demand), anyone would patronize a bar" - perhaps because they might want to, you know, socialise with other people? Call me old-fashioned... -- 14:23, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

Anyone know if this weeks what if is different depending on region? I only ask because it mentions my small town and I am skeptical based on past comics. 1037: Umwelt173.245.56.208 06:25, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, it doesn't mention anyplace close to me :-) 09:04, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

No one has explained why the comic is titled "New". Because Black hat says "NEW HEADCANNON:" rather than "I HAVE A NEW HEADCANNON:", I think he is speaking not English, but some programming language. Black Hat created the headcannon by saying "new Headcannon:", which is a command to instantiate an object of type Headcannon. This is similar to previous strips http://xkcd.com/353/ and http://xkcd.com/413/, which attributed supernatural creative powers to Python's "import" statement. But "new Headcannon:" isn't Python. I don't know language it is. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Best I can come up with is a Quick BASIC label, but if that were the case instantiating it would have required a precedant gosub, not new. Sailorleo (talk) 21:12, 22 October 2015 (UTC)
It's English; he's just speaking in an informal context, and so is using the sort of colloquialisms that don't work in more formal registers and which look weird when written. "New headcannon" (or, indeed, "New headcanon") is just shorthand for "I have acquired/developed/accepted/stolen a new headcann?on". Hppavilion1 (talk) 23:45, 21 December 2016 (UTC)

Could the "headcannnon" refer to an idea that "blows your mind"? The trajectory of the "literal" cannon ball ends where Cueball's head was, so it went from head to head, not head to desk... --B. P. (talk) 22:34, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

It seems more likely Black Hat is just being an asshole and shooting him in the face. -Pennpenn 02:51, 23 January 2015 (UTC)