721: Flatland

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Also, I apologize for the time I climbed down into your world and everyone freaked out about the lesbian orgy overseen by a priest.
Title text: Also, I apologize for the time I climbed down into your world and everyone freaked out about the lesbian orgy overseen by a priest.


This comic is a reference to the satirical novel Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, in which a society of flat shapes live in a 2D world -- a recurring reference in XKCD comics. Half the book is a direct satire of Victorian society, and the other half explores the experience of discovering a new dimension, where a sphere introduces a square (named A. Square) to 3D. Cueball appears to have taken the place of this sphere, and the comic takes place after the square knows the third dimension exists.

Humans will never fully be able to fully grasp the concept of a fourth spatial dimension (at least not in the foreseeable future), but there are ways of squashing or slicing four dimensions to create partial visualizations of 4D space. Miegakure is a yet-to-be-released 4D game that uses cross-sections of 4D space. Cueball attempted to play a pre-release version of it, but after having his "mind blown", he gained more sympathy for A. Square, who'd had similar trouble understanding 3D. A. Square accepts his apology.

The joke here is that Cueball was being silly and drew lines on A. Square to make him look like SpongeBob, which did not make the square happy. Cueball apologizes again.

The title text is a third apology for when Cueball crawled down into the second dimension. Being a stick figure, he is composed of a circle and straight lines.[citation needed] In Flatland, circles are priests (Flatland's highest social level. Actually, the highest aren't circles; in fact they are actually many-sided polygons that look identical to a true circle in Flatland.), and all women are lines; thus, to a watcher in Flatland, Cueball would look very much like a priest above many connected women, which may look like a lesbian orgy.

Also worth mentioning is the pun in the greetings: A. Square - being on ground level - asks Cueball above him how he's doing by asking what's up.


[Cueball talks to a square on the ground.]
Cueball: Hey, A. Square. How's Flatland?
A. Square: Still flat. What's up?
Cueball: I just spent an hour playing a demo of this 4D game called Miegakure.
[In a frameless panel, a character in Miegakure jumps around the 4D landscape.]
Caption above the panel: Trying to jump from block to block in four dimensions hurt my brain.
[Cueball continues talking to A. Square on the ground.]
Cueball: So I apologize for giving you a hard time when you were slow to understand 3D space. I sympathize now.
A. Square: It's okay.
[Zoom in on Cueball's head]
Cueball: Also, I apologize for drawing arms, legs, and eyes on you to make you look like SpongeBob. That was out of line.
A. Square: Yes, it was.


  • There is actually a SpongeBob episode featuring a flat creature that resembles a crude drawing of SpongeBob.


  • This comic was released on March 31, 2010 and was still up on April 1st, 2010.

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There might be another comic in this joke with Cueball's last line "That was out of line." Where a line would be a 2-dimensional object. lcarsos (talk) 21:58, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
Point of order - a line is a ONE dimensional object (and a point is a zero dimensional object) -- mwburden 14:32, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

True, but in the book "lines" were in fact extremely flat triangles. 21:33, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

Also, how has nobody noticed the "What's up?" line from the square? This could be a double - or even a triple entendre, meaning "What is the nature of 'up'?", "What is located in the upward direction?" or "What's going on?". The first two would be plays on the square's inability to sense 'up', which is the general idea of the Flatland story. 07:35, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

It might be worth noting that there isn't a playable demo yet (unfortunately :P ) 18:18, 20 February 2015 (UTC)VectorLightning (Guest)

Hidden DoodleBob reference!! -- JayRulesXKCD (talk) 8:17, 11 September 2016 (EDT)

sudo sudo is another undocumented command and says "Too much recursion" if entered. 16:05, 3 April 2018 (UTC)

Should the UniXKCD section be put on its own page? It has nearly nothing to do with the actual comic. 625571b7-aa66-4f98-ac5c-92464cfb4ed8 (talk) 21:09, 4 April 2018 (UTC)

Yes it should. I have done so. --Kynde (talk) 12:06, 6 April 2018 (UTC)

Wait, he played a demo in 2010? It's 2019 and there's still no full release, so where the hell can I find this demo? 02:09, 16 October 2019 (UTC)

This was just after PAX East (Boston, 26-28 March 2010), one of the only times Miegakure was shown publicly; Randall probably had a chance to play it then. 02:34, 12 March 2020 (UTC)