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  • Acceptable Targets: String theorists, liberal arts majors, Objectivists, typographers, and conspiracy theorists.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Read the alttext. Also check here and here Could it be that the Black Hat Guy is not an uncaring heartless monster, but rather someone who is unsure how to give and receive love and is frustrated with the world? Is he a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, a full-on Jerkass who just knows how to Pet the Dog when he feels like it, or an insecure guy with a Hidden Heart of Gold?
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
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    • #879. A passing fellow finds a magic lamp and rubs it. The lamp... uh, enjoyed this.
    • #1128. Wishbone does Fifty Shades of Grey.
    • #396. The Ring gets uploaded online as punishment for Rickrolling.
    • Most strips featuring the black hat guy are funny because of how cruel he is, but #954 (Chin-Up Bar) is a standout example.
  • Creator Worship: Many of the more rabid fans believe Randall has the ability to read minds and they often try to emulate the wacky antics depicted in the comic. (Of course, that's usually because it sounds like fun, not because the master has spoken.)
  • Draco in Leather Pants: While most people love Black Hat Guy because he's such an asshole, there are some who try to excuse and/or justify what he does.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Black Hat Guy is probably the most popular character in the strip.
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  • Evil Is Cool: Black Hat Guy has a lot of fans thinking his actions are cool, despite being a dangerous sociopath who would have gotten several life sentences and/or the death penalty in Real Life.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Strip 527 jokes about how Steve Jobs was losing weight. This was made before it was known he had cancer, let alone before he died.
    • Strip 1948: The 15th email is less funny after the 2020 U.S. presidential election and Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the election results.
  • Gateway Series: xkcd has gotten a lot of people into webcomics in general.
  • Genius Bonus: All over the place. Munroe got a degree in physics and worked at NASA.
    • Even in biology more and more, although those tend to be more sober minded ones about cancer.
    • The strip "Flatland" describes Cueball going into Flatland and being seen as a lesbian orgy overseen by a priest. In the book Flatland, lines are women and circles are priests.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
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    • Some of the earliest xkcd strips actually had warnings or explanations for the lay person on jokes made about obscure topics like elementary probability theory, periodic table abbreviations, or basic astronomy. The Alt Text on the last of these — "Science joke. You should probably just move along." — is particularly ironic in retrospect.
    • This strip is even funnier with the knowledge of the plot of the latest Ring movie.
    • In the Alt Text of #524, the "Yo Dawg" meme eventually did become mainstream.
    • #520 is this for Mass Effect fans, as the Reapers are basically what happens when the cephalopod and robot revolutions happen at the same time. Or rather, one after the other, since the Leviathans came first.
    • It was a reference to an old Gamebook, but "a mysterious door at the bottom of the Mariana Trench" beyond which lurks something apparently terrible.
    • Wisdom Teeth a year later when the superflat option was added to Minecraft.
    • Spec Ops: The Line has a sequence where brief bios of the enemies you kill are recited to you, which is surprisingly similar to this strip. Borderlands 2 also referenced it with the unique Morningstar sniper rifle as a side quest reward, which will berate the Vault Hunter in the voice of a grumpy old woman whenever they kill someone with it.
    • Comic 132 is now obsolete thanks to Guitar Hero: Metallica.
    • #311 "Action Movies": Mad Max: Fury Road more or less meets the criteria Cueball sets out for the perfect action movie: it's a two-hour car chase with explosions and gunfights and very little (spoken) exposition. That its storytelling does not suffer for it is a bonus.
    • The Ballmer peak apparently actually exists in real life (though it's actually at 0.075 rather than 0.1337).
    • Comic 590's alt text has Randall confess he likes the font Papyrus and doesn't care if it's overused. Six years later, Undertale has a character named Papyrus, whose dialogue is written in said font.
    • #413: New Pet predicted the BB-8 robot six years before The Force Awakens brings it into pop culture.
    • Comic 1342 now packs a bit of a punch to many due to the election of President Trump.
    • The Comic 1122 (Electoral President) mouseover text seems rather appropriate to the election after the one the comic was written for, given Trump's infamous use of Twitter and that his opponent was definitely not a guy who'd been mentioned on the platform.
    • Comic 375 (Pod Bay Doors) after LEGO Dimensions actually had a scene where GLaDOS and HAL 9000 have a conversation. They don't get along as well as they do in the comic, though.
  • Memetic Badass: Everyone involved in Firefly, most notably Summer Glau.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • There's always a relevant xkcd comic.
    • From discussions of the comic on the xkcd forums:
      • "Get out of my head, Randall!" for strips that hit close to home or echo the poster's recent ideas, sometimes abbreviated to "GOoMHR!!"
      • A filter automatically replaces "LOL" with "This cheese is burning me!", so the posters started writing "The cheese is lukewarm today" if they weren't impressed with strip, or "My cheese was really burned today" for good ones.
      • "I had a [close relative/friend] who died because of [subject of today]. Not funny, not cool, not a good comic."
    • The rollercoaster chess strip inspired people to take similar photos.
    • "It's better than Vista", partly thanks to Making xkcd Slightly Worse.
    • This is turning any wiki (including TV Tropes) into a realm of leopards.
    • "You will not go to space today," from the alt-text to Up Goer Five seems to be heading in this direction.
    • "Sudo make me a sandwich."
    • Tommy Wiseau is DB Cooper
    • 1357, aka the "Free Speech" comic, to the point of reaching infamy from sheer overuse and being seen in some circles as a thought-terminating cliche.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • A scheme for harvesting scores of stolen online identities through people tendencies to reuse passwords.
    • Snopes, the debunkers and creators of Urban Legends. (Alt Text: "The MythBusters are even more sinister.")
    • Lanes. Treating cancer leaves a 40% chance that it will recur somewhere else in the body. "So you spend the next five or ten years trying not to worry that every ache and pain is the answer to the question 'Do I make it?'"
    • An In-Universe example: Core: "I freak out about fifteen minutes into reading about the Earth's core when I suddenly realize it's right under me."
    • Keyboard Mash. The punchline would leave you wonder this anytime you get to a chat session: Who is really behind the other keyboard?
    • Superzoom
  • Shocking Moments:
    • Click and Drag indeed.
    • Comic 1190, "Time": Each frame is the size of a full comic, and rather than posting them all at once, the page updates every hour with a new frame. This went on continuously between March 25, 2013 and July 26th, 2013. Due to being over three-thousand frames long, some have considered it a separate webcomic within a webcomic.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: A few (some say most) of the romance-based comics. Sometimes subverted.
  • The Woobie: The Spirit Mars rover, trying to do a good enough job to be brought home. Opportunity meanwhile evolved into Nonhuman Undead and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Most readers assumed the astronomer in the "Stargazing" comics was Megan, due to the identical appearance, but Word of God is that they're a completely separate, male character.


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