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Characters / xkcd

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     Main Characters 
Insofar as a comic like xkcd can have main characters, that is...

  • The Blank: None of them have visible faces – although they nonetheless manage to be surprisingly expressive.
  • Noodle People: Well, they are stick figures...
  • Odd Friendship: Why do the eccentric-but-decent Megan and “Cueball” still hang around with the downright-psychopathic Black Hat Guy and his girlfriend?

“Cueball” AKA Rob

Probably the most commonly-recurring character of the strip – although it's hard to tell because he's distinguished from the others by his complete lack of distinguishing features. Randall Munroe's Author Avatar. Used as the default character for any strips that don't specifically require someone else.
  • Author Avatar: He is by far the character most likely to get Randall Munroe's own opinions put in his mouth.
  • The Everyman: As a result of being used as the default character for strips that don't require someone remarkable.
  • Lovable Nerd: He's a physics major and very enthusiastic about science and random trivia, in addition to being something of a Nice Guy and easy enough to get along with that even Black Hat Guy likes him.
  • No Name Given: Initially. Later his name was suggested to be 'Rob'. This was seemingly confirmed.
  • Official Couple: With Megan – even though they are occasionally shown to temporarily be not together.
  • Straight Man: Occasionally acts as this towards Black Hat Guy.
  • Walking Techbane: Whenever bizarre tech issues and general mishandling of computers and their code happen in the comic, he's the one involved.


Cueball's girlfriend/wife/statistically-significant other. Distinguished by her shoulder-length dark hair. Used whenever a female or more sensible character is required, or as a sort of Foil to Cueball.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The “Choices” story arc.
  • Ambiguously Bi: She's in a relationship with Cueball, but she's also apparently made out with a parallel version of herself, and seemed rather... enthused by her own idea for porn of women playing electric guitar in the shower.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Serves as one to Cueball in many ways, but she is eventually shown to have a few different personality traits.
  • The Everygirl: Essentially a female version of Cueball, so she ends up coming across as this.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Or at least, 'Nerds Are Found Sexy By Other Nerds'.
  • Official Couple: With Cueball. 'Megan' is also the name of Randall Munroe's Real Life Love Interest.
  • Only Sane Woman: Easily the most well-balanced of the recurring cast. See here for a perfect demonstration.
  • Straight Woman: Often plays this role to Cueball.
  • Women Are Wiser: Despite her own nerdy eccentricities, she seems to be more down-to-Earth than Cueball, and she's definitely saner than Black Hat Guy or the Beret Existentialist.

“Black Hat Guy”

Cueball's friend (and possibly onetime flatmate, since several early strips seem to show them living together). Distinguished by his unique, black, boater-like hat. Turns up whenever a joke requires someone to do something evil (or very very Chaotic Neutral).

"Beret Guy"

A possibly-insane philosopher whose connection to the others is unclear. Distinguished by his white beret. Turns up whenever a Cloudcuckoolander is required.

Black Hat Guy's Girlfriend / “Danish”

The second newest addition to the recurring cast, since she entered a relationship with Black Hat Guy. Distinguished by her long, wavey, dark hair. Essentially a female Black Hat Guy.

White Hat Guy

The newest addition to the recurring cast, a figure occasionally seen talking with Cueball. Distinguished by his hat, which resembles that of Black Hat Guy but is white instead of black. Seems well-meaning but pretentious.
  • Foil: In most strips he appears in, he pretty-much serves as someone Cueball can argue with so as to get across a point Randall wants to make.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: In one strip he's persuaded to look up what he's saying (that normal matter contains anti-quarks) on his phone, and immediately convinces himself that he hadn't been saying that at all, his actual point was...
  • Only Sane Man: When he isn't being a strawman he's being this.
  • Person with the Clothing: Again, he's known primarily by his hat because he doesn't have a canon name.
  • Socialite: He has strong views on wine, art and culture, he has expensive tastes, and he spends all his time wandering around having high-minded conversation with no indication that he's ever had an actual job.
  • Straw Character: His usual role in the strip is to make logical fallacies to help advance Randall's point.
  • Wine Is Classy: Doesn't understand how Cueball can drink cheap wine.

Blonde Girl/"Ponytail"

A recurring character. Used sometimes as a Recurring Extra, or a female companion to Megan. Is sometimes implied as Rob's ex.
  • The Smart Girl: Usually either she or a character who looks very much like her can be seen working on science projects, or even as Megan's doctor.

     Other Recurring Characters 

The Boy in the Barrel

The very first character xkcd featured. A young boy inexplicably floating around in a barrel.
  • Art Shift: It was only after the Boy in the Barrel's debut that the art shifted from 'semi-realistic' to 'stick-figures', making him the only non-stick-figure recurring human.
  • The Bus Came Back: No really. In "Click & Drag" he's drawn as a bald stick figure like everyone else, but he's there, go as far right as you possibly can before you get to the flat blackness. He has a balloon now.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Seriously, what is his personal arc even about?
  • Missing Mom: “None of the places I floated had mommies”.
  • Robinsonade: He somehow survives drifting through the sea in a barrel on his own.

The Flying Ferret

A ferret with tailor-made wings.

Armchair Nihilist

An occasionally-recurring character who turns up when the joke calls for some straw existential nihilism. Resembles Megan, but is distinguishable from her by both her personality and the fact she almost never leaves her chair.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: She spends all her time in a chair, musing about how dark and depressing the world is.
  • Foil: She's basically a perfect inversion of the Beret Existentialist, and one What If? contrasts them against each other as 'the optimist' and 'the pessimist'.
  • The Eeyore: Just as we've never seen the Beret Existentialist sad, we've never seen this woman happy.
  • New Job Episode: When she eventually leaves the chair, she becomes a reporter. Turns out she's not very well suited to it.
  • Stealth Pun: She's an armchair philosopher.
  • Straw Nihilist: Her sole function in the strip is to be a comedic exaggeration of the more depressive brand of nihilism.

Cory Doctorow

A fictionalised version of the real person, who lives in a hot air balloon in the blogosphere. Distinguished by his red cape and black goggles.

Richard Stallman

Again, a fictional version of the real person. He lives in fear of Microsoft sending their lackeys to do him in. Distinguished by his long hair and beard, and the fact that he wields two katanas.

The Stargazer

A woman who teaches a ... peculiar ... guide to the night sky. May or may not actually be an astronomer. Resembles Megan and the Armchair Nihilist, but is far too enthusiastic to be the latter, and probably too weird to be the former.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Most of what she actually says about the stars is right, minus her personal opinions. At the same time, she thought her career was over when dawn broke, because the stars were gone.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: To almost the same degree as Beret Guy, but specifically for weird opinions about astronomy.
  • Enmity with an Object: Says Betelgeuse can't explode fast enough for her, and yells at comets in the hope they'll go away.
  • Phony Degree: In "Stargazing" she says she's "a doctor or whatever". The Alt Text to "Stargazing 2" reveals that when the FAA came to shut down the observatory, she stole a bunch of doctorates in the confusion.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: "Holy shit, did you see that meteor?!? Space is awesome!"