734: Outbreak

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 09:01, 28 December 2015 by (talk) (Explanation: Added a bit more to the last panel explanation)
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Let's get dinner after we promptly destroy all the X-7 we've manufactured.
Title text: Let's get dinner after we promptly destroy all the X-7 we've manufactured.


Patient Zero is the usual terminology for the first patient tested or infected with an outbreak-style infection.

This comic serves to make fun of the stereotypical zombie movie in which an unlikely series of events, coupled with extreme oversight on part of the staff, leave an opening for an outbreak to begin. Often, the infected find themselves lacking any restraint or containment, and freely move about in search of humans to infect. in the comic, Laura asks if the zombie has been kept in isolation, a standard medical procedure that prevents the patient from coming into contact with anyone or anything not specifically approved. Her question serves to point out the drastic difference in real-life procedure and zombie movies. Her next actions, going to her car to obtain a weapon to destroy the zombie, again show contrast against the often irrational and illogical actions of medical staff in movies, whose behaviors usually lead to their deaths.

The comic ends with a little "mock the audience" joke as romantic comedies stereo-typically have a very different audience from zombie horror movies. As a result, the director(s) of this movie are deliberately showing the wrong kind of film to the audience attracted by the title or teaser. This would be disastrous for a movie in real life given that audiences do not take kindly to such antics and are likely to pour hate about it online, dissuading others from going, and alienating both those audiences who enjoy romantic comedies and those who enjoy zombie films, leaving just a niche occupied by the people who enjoy both.

The title-text is included as another example of the logical real-life actions versus the illogical movie ones, as any dangerous substance in a real lab would be disposed of, preventing further harm. In zombie movies, another major trope is the medical staff thinking that they are safe after they eliminate the first zombie, only to find the remaining chemicals have been used to make more.


[Two scientists, Ryan and Laura, stand outside a lab. A zombie is visible through the window.]
The outbreak started with Patient Zero...
Ryan: He was exposed to toxin X-7—now he's a bloodthirsty monster!
Laura: Has he been in isolation?
Zombie: Braaains!
Ryan: Yes, but I can't hold this door for long!
Laura: Hang on, I've got a gun in my truck.
[She runs off.]
[Ryan opens the door as Laura shoots through it.]
And ended with Patient Zero five minutes later.
Ryan: So, I never got your name. I'm Ryan.
Laura: Laura.
The remaining 90 minutes of the movie will be a romantic comedy.

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A romantic comedy in which the couple tries to hide evidence of the battered corpse while making out. Would pay to watch. Davidy22[talk] 13:22, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

cueball and megan? the text clearly name the characters as ryan and laura 18:48, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

  1. Cueball and Megan are acting in a movie.
  2. In the transcript, Randall specifically names them as Cueball and Megan. :-) Saibot84 (talk) 02:38, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Note that "Cueball" and "Megan" are merely the Explain xkcd names. The official transcript refers to them only as "Man" and "Woman". (Anon) 13 August 2013 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Randall did also use the name Megan, while Cueball is just an invention by interpreters not only here. The names "Ryan and Laura" are just characters in a movie.--Dgbrt (talk) 07:33, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

I love how Ryan is covering his face when he holds the door open. 23:27, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

I saw it as trying to plug his ear. Shotguns are loud, especially indoors.Tryc (talk) 14:24, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

I've always considered this a bait and switch. Men would take their reluctant girlfriends on movie dates, somehow manage to get a movie they wanted, and soon find they were had. It is ever so much sweeter this way. Black Hat Productions, in collaboration with Danish Movies, should make this. Anonymous 03:00, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

The patient might overwhelm the man and escape before the woman returns. X-7 might still be communicable after death. Errors. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Honestly, what better plan was there? The door didn't have a lock (for whatever reason), and most people (or at least most scientists) don't usually keep a gun in their truck, much less in the lab itself. Also, the title text takes care of the toxin issue. Presumably, they'll follow proper protocols when destroying the body as well. And disinfecting Laura. Shotguns spray. Anonymous 15:03, 5 November 2015 (UTC)

This explanation desperately needs some cleanup. It's currently shockingly short, and gives almost no explanation of anything. 21:57, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

That at least have been fixed now ;-) --Kynde (talk) 09:56, 6 August 2016 (UTC)

Question: Are there any reason for the names Laura and Ryan, like are they used in a zombie movie of outbreak style movie? Or are they just randomly chosen so they can be introduced in the film? --Kynde (talk) 10:50, 6 August 2016 (UTC)

The whole idea from thi comic really looks like something Russian filmmakers would try to spend state issued budget on.