423: Finish Line

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Finish Line
The question with Lucy and the football was always whether, on some level, she believed the things she said.
Title text: The question with Lucy and the football was always whether, on some level, she believed the things she said.


Cueball and Megan are playing Mario Kart, with Cueball's Luigi character ahead of Megan's Mario towards the end of the race. Megan begins waxing philosophically on how she sometimes stops right before the Finish line (hence the title), because she knows that she has already won and then does not need the machine to tell her so. She says it proves she doesn't act like a rat going through a laboratory maze in pursuit of cheese.

This talk makes Cueball realize that winning a video game isn't really important, and how by speeding through a racing level like the game asks you to do, you sometimes miss the fun of simply exploring the level and enjoying the extraordinary level of detail and work that went into it. He thus exclaims that it was a good call and slows down - expecting Megan to join him exploring.

In the end, it was just a ruse by Megan, who speeds past him and wins, much to her glee. "It's more fun than a blue shell," she says, referring to the Mario Kart item that, when fired, will inevitably hit the race leader and cause him to crash. Randall has rather adamantly expressed his opinion about blue shells before in 290: Fucking Blue Shells.

Cueball's response suggests that he has been fooled before by Megan's Be a rebel speech - something she can pull off against him again and again. This leads to the subject of the title text.

Note: In MKWii, people sometimes troll others by stopping right at the finish line. When the person behind them gets close, they just cross the line and cause 2nd place to lose.

The title text refers to the comic strip Peanuts, and the running gag where fussbudget Lucy would hold an American football for lovable loser Charlie Brown, and he'd come running at it full speed, only to have Lucy pull the football away at the last moment and send Charlie Brown crashing to the ground. What made it funny was that each time, Lucy would find some way to convince Charlie Brown that this time, she wouldn't pull the football away, and he'd try again — but lo and behold, of course she did. (See example of this, in the collection of moments shown in the very last Peanuts comic).

The title text asks the important question if Lucy believed the things she said - even if she would eventually pull the ball away. If so, it would be easier to fool Charlie Brown. Maybe Cueball suggests that Megan believes what she says up to the point where she wins....


[Luigi with green clothes in a green go-cart is clearly in the lead of a game of Mario Kart with Mario in red clothes in a red go-cart. Mario is so far behind that he seems much smaller. Two speech bubbles with arrows pointing at the two show what Megan and Cueball, shown later, say to each other.]
Megan (playing Mario): Sometimes I stop right before the finish line.
Cueball (playing Luigi): Why?
[A small square panel is inserted at the bottom of the first, crossing over the frame to the next panel and below the bottom of this panel. It shows Megan sitting on the floor leaning up against a coach while holding the game control in both hands looking at the large TV in front of her, only partly inside the frame. Her speech bubble is like the previous panel, pointing at her with an arrow, but most of the bubble is inside the first panel and also breaking into the next panel.]
Megan: 'Cause I know I've won.
[Scene moved to look in from the direction of the TV at the couch. Cueball is sitting on the other end of the couch to the left holding his hands out to either side while looking down at Megan on the floor, who is still holding her remote in both hands playing the video game.]
Megan: It proves I'm playing for fun, on my own terms. That I don't need validation from the machine.
Megan: That I'm not a rat pulling a lever.
[Scene moved to the side, showing both the couch with Cueball in it holding his hands up, Megan in front on the floor working the remote and the entire TV. Speech from the TV is shown in a broken bubble.]
Cueball: ...Man. Good Call. Let's stop and explore the course for a-
Game: Player Two wins
Cueball: Hey!
Megan: Ha ha!
[Zoom in on the couch still from the side, Cueball leaning forward with the game control in his hand on the arm rest and Megan on the floor sitting more relaxed with the remote in one hand.]
Cueball: Dammit, I'm a sucker for your "Be a Rebel" speech.
Megan: It's more fun than a blue shell.


  • Luigi's appearance is a reference to his appearance in the DOS game Mario is Missing. His odd visuals in this game are the source of a meme known as Weegee.

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Is the "rat pulling a lever" phrase a reference to studies with rats where they will self administer opiates and ignore food until death? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_stimulation_reward#Addiction 23:39, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

"Rat pulling a lever" studies are done to test a wide variety of hypotheses about behavior, not just how they respond to opiates. Rats are one of the favorite animals used in psychological studies, especially among doctoral candidates working on their dissertations. 09:13, 1 October 2015 (UTC)

His Luigi looks like the Weegee meme version of Luigi xD International Space Station (talk) 20:40, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree. It even has the same amount of mustache occlusion. I added it to trivia. 22:34, 20 June 2016 (UTC)

Cueball and Megan seem to be playing Mario Kart Wii, judging biy the controllers. Cuebaal is using a vertical wii remote with nunchuck and Megan is using a sideways Wii-remote.