1541: Voice

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Anyway, we should totally go watch a video story or put some food in our normal mouths!
Title text: Anyway, we should totally go watch a video story or put some food in our normal mouths!


During a casual talk with Megan, Ponytail suddenly interrupts her normal speech stating that she is for some reason only capable of controlling her own voice once every six years. Apparently only for a very brief time since she immediately returns to the casual talk, continuing her previous sentence mid-word before being able to tell Megan how she could help her. Upon Megan's confused request, she denies knowledge of the occurrence, although in a somewhat suspicious way, using possibly fake laughter.

It could be this was just a prank by Ponytail, to tease Megan, but given her fake laughter reply to Megan's inquiry and the continuing comment in the title text it seems most likely that Ponytail is indeed possessed by some sort of entity that prevents her from expressing her own thoughts, except for a very short time every six years. Of course this may just be her way of continuing with the prank; see a previous case of such a prank below.

In case it is not a prank it would thus appear that Ponytail's usual "self" is indeed this possessing entity. Whether this entity is actually aware that the "real" Ponytail did speak, or if it actually does not know that it was interrupted (since it continued mid-word) is not clear from the last response to Megan.

The title text suggests that Ponytail is possessed by some sort of inhuman entity (most likely an alien or AI, or possibly a small but intelligent creature living in her head) unfamiliar with movies and eating. See below for related comics.

Related comics[edit]

Non-human entity trying to behave like a human[edit]

The comic, 1530: Keyboard Mash, also revolves around the same theme of a non-human entity trying to convince other humans that it is in fact a human. This is most clearly referenced in the title text of this comic. In Keyboard Mash, it is a spider that tries to chat like it was a human, making statements that are true if you are human, but which humans would never utter in a conversation like here - put some food in our normal mouths! However, the pretended 'human' being (the spider) is not seen by the other person in this comic. As opposed to this one where Megan speaks directly with Ponytail.

Voice hijacking[edit]

It has already been established recently, in 1528: Vodka, that Ponytail's voice can be hijacked by non-human entities. That time it was the vodka she was drinking that took over. It is possible that this is continuing or caused by the same openness to possession as shown here. It is also possible that she simply thinks possession jokes are funny and once again jokes with Megan.

Six years ago[edit]

Six years to the day before this one, which according to this comic was the last time Ponytail had control of her own voice, this comic 600: Android Boyfriend was posted. Ponytail acquired an android boyfriend. It seems unlikely that this older comic has any relation with this particular episode - except that this comic mentions a six-year period and Ponytail is also in that comic.

Note on Ponytail[edit]

Ponytail is mainly a filler character, showing up when two females are needed or when a large group of people are present.

It is important to note that Ponytail, like most xkcd stick figures, usually does not represent the same character in each comic. This Ponytail is likely unrelated to other instances of Ponytail.


[Megan and Ponytail are walking.]
Megan: Are you doing anything later?
Ponytail: I was th- I can only control my voice once every six years. Please, you have to -inking of going out, but no real plans.
Megan: ...What was that?
Ponytail: Haha, what?


  • Possession stories are common in films and books. Some recent examples that could have inspired this comic could be one of these (beware of spoilers):
    • In the film The Host the human race has been taken over by small parasitic aliens called "Souls" that inserts themselves individually into a host body where they are then able to access the host's memories. In the story the main character is the host that controls a body, and then the personality of that body, which is then no longer able to control her body, but can speak to the host. And in a few situations can take over her body for a short period. Very similar to what happens in this comic.
    • The Yeerks from the Animorphs books and TV series take humans as a host by entering and merging with their brain through the ear canal. The host can fight to temporarily take back control, but this is very painful. However how many times human can fight back is not as specific as in this comic. Animorphs is referenced in a a few other comics.
    • In the movie Being John Malkovich the main character possesses Malkovich, but Malkovich is occasionally able to communicate through the possession.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Kes is taken over by a warlord who has discovered a means of immortality by using technology to transfer his consciousness to another body. The warlord enters a mental struggle with Kes's latent mind, and as he begins to lose the battle, Kes's personality resurfaces on several occasions.

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The premise of this comic reminds me of a sci-fi short story I read many years ago but have never been able to track down. A young girl's doll (?) comes to life, and it explains that it is a entity that can inhabit inanimate objects. Some things happen that I have forgotten, and while walking down the road, the girl is almost struck by a runaway car. The entity takes control of the car and steers it away from her. It decides that, having saved the girl's life, it has every right to take control of her - leaving our poor protagonist in the worst kind of "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" scenario as the story ends. Perhaps Randall Munroe read the same story. 12:08, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

To me it reminds me of the movie "Being John Malkovich", especially the end, where the main character is forever trapped in the other person's body, unable to talk. Kind of the-other-way-around, but a similar concept. Linuspogo (talk) 12:23, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Actually, it's very much like The Silver Chair from The Chronicles of Narnia where someone is enchanted most of the time, and only in their right mind for a short time every day. They have a short time to convince those around them that they are now in their right mind. --Mlv (talk) 15:33, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Parts of this sound like Frances Hardinge's Cuckoo Song though that could just be a case of convergent evolution -- 23:27, 5 March 2021 (UTC)

The phrase "..and put food in our normal mouths" (trying to pass as a human but getting it wrong) reminded me of 629: Skins "..been driving my car and having a job all day .. didn't meow once." 16:15, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

every six years

6 years back it was june 22, 2009 -> Comic 600. I guess there is no link between those comics , but I would not be surprised if there was. sirKitKat (talk) 12:44, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

anyway, I'm looking forward to the comic of june 22, 2021 ;) sirKitKat (talk) 12:51, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Do you realize that xkcd is fiction? Do you realize that Homer and Marge Simpson have not been married for 27 years, since Bart has been 10 during these 27 years? 13:15, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
The author of this comic has a habit of doing things as suggested by the commenter that you mock. Stay on topic. This is not a place for picking fights. 14:49, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
I'd just like to make it known that while both 22 June 2009 and 2015 both fell on a Monday, 22 June 2021 will fall on a Tuesday. (Thank pesky leap days for that.) Randall will have to break his regular schedule for a small easter egg that would then be 12 years in the making. Given that it's Randall, there's a pretty likely chance that WOULD happen, but I wouldn't count on it. 06:14, 9 August 2017 (UTC)
Well unfortunately, of the comics closest to that one, 2479 (one day before) has people acting mostly normal (Well, given the state of the world at the time) 17:03, 3 March 2024 (UTC)

Does this look like a continuation of the same conversation from two comics ago? Djbrasier (talk) 14:57, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

Not to me. It's the same characters chatting casually, but there's nothing else linking both comics. 15:11, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

By the way, I'd think that, even if Ponytail can't control her voice, she still can write whatever she wants. 15:15, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

"Voice" in one sense could mean the use of vocal cords and mouth to produce audible speech, but in a more general sense it can be used to describe any verbal or nonverbal communication. (eg right now I am voicing my opinion on this subject) I suspect the latter is being implied here, although like most of the comics it's open to interpretation. Tahg (talk) 21:10, 22 June 2015 (UTC)
Animorphs reference?

xkcd has mentioned that franchise before- https://xkcd.com/1380/ It centers around an alien race named the Yeerks that effectively possess a host by entering the brain. There is a single character in that series (Marco's mother) that is on rare occasions able to break through the Yeerk's control to use her own voice. -- 15:23, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

Agreed, this was my first impression of the comic. --Elimist--

The Yeerks have full access to the host's thoughts, feelings, and memories. They are literally wrapped around the brain. They are completely indistinguishable and would not act suspicious in a personality sense. The only things that give them away are their required actions, such as returning to the pool every few days, or if they get caught in a conversation with their conspirators. The only reason Jake's status as host was discovered in one novel was because the Yeerk had only just entered his brain and didn't have time to fully acquire his memories. The Yeerk's sudden and unexpected exposure to what he believed to be the Andalite bandits lead him to have an emotional outburst. Had he been given any amount of time to adjust to his new host, he would have gone unnoticed until he had to return to the pool. 18:49, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

My first thought was Randal must be talking about party obsessed people who are in fact out of control over their acting and helpless having to go out even if they don't have a reason to --floydheld--

This reminded me of the movie "The Host", where a human body is used to receive a voyaging alien entity. 18:37, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

Ponytail as filler character: "Note on Ponytail: She is mainly a filler character..." - maybe she has never got her own voice because she is used as a filler character? If that's the case then in that brief moment we "hear" the real Ponytail. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Removed the Yeerk mention, because while Yeerk hosts can occasionally act against their controller this isn't how they work, so this really probably isn't a reference to Animorphs (as much as I like the books). -Pennpenn 23:29, 22 June 2015 (UTC)

When I first read it, I interpreted it as some other intelligence was being suppressed by Ponytail, rather than the other way around, as it is currently being explained. (Although on further reflection, this doesn't make as much sense. I still wanted to put it in as a consideration, though.) 02:13, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Possible Stephen Hawking reference? It has been reported (can't find the link at the moment) that S.H. sometimes says things he didn't mean to say as a result of his software's autocomplete. Apparently his children have also had fun with this. Sorry for the lack of reference :s Glen442 (talk) 14:30, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Reference Glen442 (talk) 14:51, 23 June 2015 (UTC)
Completely unrelated to the comic, but the above was subverted in the 2015 Comic Relief night (the umpteenth UK one, that is, seeing as the US seem to have started doing it) in a comedy sketch involving Stephen Hawking in a Little Britain setting. He apparently wants to swear, but his autocorrect bowdlerises his attempts. I'm not sure if the humour(-with-a-'u') will travel, but it's probably on YouTube if you want to look for it.
More related to the comic, Stephen was 'stuck' with an American accent with his original voice synthesiser unit, but it's now so much part of him and his popular image that he keeps it. Normally representing what he wants to say, it seems. Though maybe the reason behind his recent comments about the dangers of advanced AI is that (of all people), an aspiring AI Overlord could quite easily impersonate him and control his life, to its own ends, with people (certainly outside his usual immediate contacts) being unable to tell that he's actually in the midst of an "I Have No Voice And I Must Scream" scenario. 16:01, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Could this be about multiple personality disorder? First thing that came to my mind when seeing it. Know it's not quite like this, but it is a comic. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Demonic possession. Maybe Megan and Ponytail are roommates, and Ponytail was possessed by Ba'al. http://xkcd.com/1419/ Wm.casson (talk) 15:22, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Is there any possible reference to democracy here? The population only has a voice every X years? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

If I ever break character in the middle of a roleplay, this is what I say. Although it's funny--people will eventually relate such an outburst to this comic, so if I outburst like this "in actuality" the thing controlling me would simply link this comic.

Not that it's happening to me. I'm just a normal human, with normal human hands, typing normal sentences. On the internet, nobody knows you're the ISS. NO ONE. International Space Station (talk) 05:09, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

Haha! This is a fuI CAN ONLY CONTROL MY TYPING EVERY...nny comic.


Sean Spicer said that the "covfefe" tweet was not a mistake and "I think the President and a small group of people know exactly what he meant."

Suppose the President of the United States of America was in Ponytail's situation, and the "real" Donald Trump was only able to assert itself long enough to tweet seven characters before the possessing entity regained control. Or perhaps four, because the original tweet was "Despite the constant negative press covfefe", and it has been suggested that he was attempting to tweet something beginning with "Despite the constant negative press coverage...", which would mean that the suppressed entity took control after the "v" and tweeted only "fefe" before losing control again.

That would explain a lot. Well, a little. Well, very little. Almost nothing really.

What could a possessed person be trying to communicate with those letters that would have a meaning that Sean Spicer would think was known to Trump and a "small group" of others (presumably those aware of the possession)?

Perhaps the possessor was named Fefe. Or if it's not a possession but rather an android or robot that can impersonate a human and pass the Turing test, most of the time, my guess is Felix von Leitner, because of the various individuals called Fefe, he is the most likely to know how and he's the type of guy that Randall finds fascinating. Wait, I'm writing about something that happened in real life, not in XKCD.

I have to go now and put my totally normal foot in my 3.14159 hole. No won is mak1ng me right this. ICANN captain Oveur 99 44⁄100% of watt eye wright, brothers.