1468: Worrying

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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If the breaking news is about an event at a hospital or a lab, move it all the way over to the right.
Title text: If the breaking news is about an event at a hospital or a lab, move it all the way over to the right.


This chart is a visual representation of how worried people tend to be by various events in real life compared to the same events in movies. The chart's Y-axis indicates how worrying an event is in real life (from "not very worried" to "very worried"), while its X-axis shows how worrying the event is in movies. Nine events are shown in the chart:

  • Spilling a drink on your shirt: In both real life and in movies, this just causes a stain and maybe a little embarrassment.
  • Nosebleed: Nosebleeds are common in real life and almost never are serious. However, nosebleeds in movies are almost always a sign that something is seriously wrong.
  • Breaking news: People in real life commonly don't pay much attention to the news at all, so many breaking stories go unnoticed until much later. Most breaking news stories are also about non-threatening events (eg. presidential addresses) or events that are far removed from the viewer. However, in movies, breaking news is universally a means to introduce a significant plot element that the characters find worrying, and large numbers of people are often shown watching and being emotionally affected by the news while it's breaking.
  • Parking ticket: Tickets in movies are almost always ignored, but in real life they are moderately worrying because they cost money and can tarnish your driving record.
  • Persistent cough: In real life, coughing fits can be a sign of serious illness, but usually aren't. (If you have a persistent cough, you should check with a doctor.) In movies, just like with nosebleeds, a person with a persistent cough is almost always extremely ill or infectious.
  • "We need to talk": This phrase is a common, stereotypical lead-in to a serious conversation, usually about a couple's relationship status, that often causes a high level of worry in the recipient. According to this chart, this phrase is equally worrisome both in movies and in real life.
  • Getting knocked out by a punch: In movies, a character who is knocked out by a punch always wakes up sometime later with no lasting effects. In real life, however, a person knocked out by a punch can suffer serious brain injuries or even die from the punch itself, or can sustain further injuries from their head hitting the ground.
  • Chest wounds: The chart mentions wounds on both your right and left sides. In real life, a chest wound to either side is extremely worrying. But in movies, getting wounded on the right side of the chest will rarely deal lasting damage to the hero or primary villain, to show how badass they are. Wounds on the left side of the chest (the atrium side of the heart) signify swift death. However, even left-side chest wounds are apparently still less worrisome than nosebleeds.

The title text refers to "breaking news" reports in movies - whenever the news story covers an event at a hospital (usually an outbreak of some major disease) or a laboratory (a monster escaping, a toxic gas released, an explosion, etc.), these events are universally much more worrisome than any other type of news story since they are guaranteed to be important for the protagonists in short order.


[A chart is presented with the title "How Worried Should You Be When Various Things Happen To You:". The vertical axis is titled "...In Real Life", and the horizontal axis is titled "...In Movies". Both axes start at "Not very worried" and move outward toward "Very worried".]

[Events, moving from bottom to top of the "In Real Life" scale:]

In Real Life In Movies Event Description
Not very worried Not very worried Spilling a drink on your shirt
Not very worried Extremely worried Nosebleed
Slightly worried Mostly worried Breaking news
Slightly more worried Not at all worried Parking ticket
Moderately worried Very worried Persistent cough
Mostly worried Mostly worried "We need to talk"
Mostly worried (slightly more) Not at all worried Getting knocked out by a punch
Very worried Slightly worried (Chest wound) ...on your right side
Very worried Very worried (Chest wound) ...on your left side

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My first transcript and more-or-less complete explanation. :) Hope I'm not stealing anyone's thunder... KieferSkunk (talk) 07:45, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

The original "transcript" is more like another explanation. It should be changed. Try to see one for another chart comic. Kynde (talk) 13:32, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I have now made the changes my self and created the table under the explanation --Kynde (talk) 13:32, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Breaking news being important in movies had already been discussed in xkcd #1387

http://xkcd.com/1387/ 09:27, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

"Being in the same vicinity as oranges" should be way right on the "Very worried" axis for movies because of The Godfather. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The heart has 2 atria, one on each side. The wound to the left side of the chest is considered worse because the left ventricle so more of the heart is on the left side (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

One of the most serious movie situations is entering a bathroom. Mark31415926 (talk) 03:13, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

Like the movie Cast-Away? Can't even take a pee without a jet engine soon sucking in seawater and exploding near you. 09:03, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure the nosebleed thing is a reference to The Ring. 22:13, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

I'm of the opinion that nosebleed as something to be worried about is pretty universal in movies. In animes, though, it's just a sign that there are attractive people nearby... 22:53, 4 December 2015 (UTC)

Attila the Hun is traditionally supposed to have died of a nosebleed. Gmcgath (talk) 21:53, 30 October 2016 (UTC)

I saw an imgur image a few months ago of a blood clot pulled out of an elderly gentleman administered to hospital with trouble breathing. The blood supply was from a nosebleed. To understand how serious this actually was - the clot formed a very detailed map of the inside of his lungs... 14:44, 19 November 2018 (UTC)