455: Hats

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Title text: ...


Black Hat encounters a person who is wearing not one, but two black hats. Black Hat is not a person to be trifled with, but from his reaction, he apparently believes that Two Black Hats represents a considerable danger to him. Black Hat knows how dangerous he is to those with one fewer black hat than him, so he continues the logic and realizes that one who has one more black hat must be proportionally dangerous to him.

If a black hat is assumed to be akin to a badge of rank, then Two Black Hats certainly is superior to him in the capacity and willingness to do evil. Alternatively, and even more worrying, Two Black Hats could be someone who has the desire and the ability to acquire black hats (possibly killing the previous owners in the process if having two black hats really means that the individual is more malevolent than Black Hat), which he then wears like a badge of honor. With all this in mind, Black Hat edges away, keeping Two Black Hats in sight at all times. This movement and the accompanying line could also be interpreted as Black Hat being physically pushed away, like two negative or two positive poles of a magnet, although this does not explain why it only starts after a beat panel.

Another interpretation is that the left figure (perhaps nominally a Cueball character) has had the audacity or thoughtlessness to obtain a black hat, for whatever reason. Black Hat learns of this and responds by similarly adding to his normal apparel, just to make a non-verbal point that could be a passive-aggressive sign of displeasure or merely from his usual wry sense of amusement.

This comic is also a metatextual joke about xkcd itself. Because of the comic's simplistic art style and characterization, Black Hat has only two defining physical traits: his hat and his hair, which we see when he takes off his hat, and one defining personality trait, his malevolence. Randall then implies that the two traits must be correlated, so that a black hat signifies malevolence, and accordingly two hats must signify even more malevolence -- an idea that wouldn't make any sense in real life, where a person with two hats would just be making an odd fashion choice.[citation needed]

The title text is simply "..." This may represent the slow-motion pause during which Black Hat's nefarious life flashes before his eyes, as he considers his impending doom. It may also emphasize how the usually witty Black Hat is, for once, speechless. Or the title text is similar to that in 412: Startled, where Black Hat also becomes the little one (and with much focus on the black hat, as in this comic). As mentioned there, such a short title text could be due to the fact that it's a somewhat surreal comic, and any further commentary might have detrimentally brought it down to Earth. See also 82: Frame, with the same title text, but no relation to black hats.

Two Black Hats makes a reappearance in 826: Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC), down by the restrooms.


[Black Hat is walking.]
[Black Hat stops in front of another man with two Black Hats, the uppermost hat tilted about 45 degrees back.]
[After two panels, the original Black Hat steps backward, quivering slightly.]

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I have a dissenting opinion, I think it's an electrostatics joke, with black hat (who is negative), meets a person of the same charge and more mass, so he is repelled by an electromagnetic field (likes repel) -- 15:57, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

I am sure this is a mystic power pushing Black Hat back at the last frame. There must be a film or video game with a powerful man wearing two hats or something similar. I have no idea. --Dgbrt (talk) 19:40, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
What, you mean like Team Fortress 2, and its infamous Gentle Manne of Leisure? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I disagree with the above discussion: I believe the wavy lines shown in the final frame are simply to indicate that Black Hat is slowly backing away. If any mystical or eletrostatic s were involved, the long delay in the 3rd and 4th frames, during which Black Hat is sizing up Black Hat 2, would NOT be appropriate. --MisterSpike (talk) 18:25, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

I believe it is significant that the black hat has its own black hat. Nobody mentioned this. It's not merely that the gentleman is wearing two hats. This effectively squares the humor level. -- dobennett 23:37, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

I think the dual-BHG first had only one hat (I mean, why would you wear two hats?), but gained one from another BHG (ala Cube Zero and the watches), which is why DBHG is clearly a threat to BHGs. -- 14:54, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Is it at all possible that Black Hat believes that there is something wrong with a person who wears two black hats and that they should be avoided at all costs? -- (talk) 1:27, 3 january 2015 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Precisement. I was about to post a comment saying that my first interpretation was simply that the guy with two hats must be insane, or a fool, and that it was a "just back away slowly from the crazy guy" situation. —Kazvorpal (talk) 14:53, 4 August 2017 (UTC)

Could this have to do with the journal comics? I think it should be mentioned at least. 01:50, 25 May 2017 (UTC)

Not just possible, but likely! -Pennpenn 07:07, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Would it be possible that Two Black Hats in this page is the actual Black Hat intimidating someone who happened to wear a black hat on that day? 17:38, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

New headcannon: The second hat is actually Black Hat from 412: Startled Just some random derp 22:09, 21 September 2015 (UTC)

Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. Bow before me ye mortals, and weep. (Thanks to Oppenheimer for the start) SilverMagpie (talk) 01:41, 22 November 2018 (UTC)