1128: Fifty Shades

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Fifty Shades
Wishbone and the Illustrated Classics series have gotten me through every conversation I've ever had about Dickens, Treasure Island, The Anarchist's Cookbook, and Our Bodies, Ourselves.
Title text: Wishbone and the Illustrated Classics series have gotten me through every conversation I've ever had about Dickens, Treasure Island, The Anarchist's Cookbook, and Our Bodies, Ourselves.


Fifty Shades of Grey is a best-selling novel featuring large quantities of BDSM sex. Wishbone was a children's TV show about a dog who draws parallels between literature and real life in his dreams, reenacting many literary classics. The show was especially praised in its time for refusing to censor the more unpleasant aspects of its source work. Many people within Randall's age group have experienced more literary classics through Wishbone than by actually reading them; this phenomenon lead to the formation of a Facebook group (now replaced by a page) with over 70,000 members dedicated to that idea.

In the comic, Cueball claims to have learned all that he knows about Fifty Shades of Grey from the Wishbone adaptation of the book. Knowing the faithful nature of Wishbone's adaptations, an episode on the book would likely involve age-inappropriate material for children, as the sounds emanating from the TV would suggest.

In the title text:

  • Great Illustrated Classics is a series of easy to read adaptations of literary classics, including works by Charles Dickens and Stevenson's Treasure Island.
  • The Anarchist Cookbook, first published in 1971, is a book that contains instructions for the manufacture of explosives, rudimentary telecommunications phreaking devices, and other items. It was written by William Powell to protest United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
  • Our Bodies, Ourselves is a book about women's health and sexuality produced by the nonprofit organization Our Bodies Ourselves (originally called the Boston Women's Health Book Collective). First published in 1971, it contains information related to many aspects of women's health and sexuality, including menopause, birth control, childbirth, sexual health, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental health and general well-being.

Part of the title text joke is that the latter two works would not likely be the subject of Great Illustrated Classics or Wishbone. However, the title text may be actually technically 100% correct, if Randall hasn't ever had an in-depth conversation about either of the latter two works.

The book was later made into a film which was referenced in 1585: Similarities almost three years later.


[Cueball is sitting on the floor watching his TV standing on a small table. He is leaning back on one arm resting the other arms hand on his knee. Light is coming out from the TV screen, as shown with nine small lines. A high sound is shown above the TV in a starburst and the sound of a dog barking is coming out from the screen with a line indicating this. Above the drawings there are two paragraphs of text:]
As with most famous books, I've never actually read Fifty Shades of Grey.
I only know the plot from watching the Wishbone version.
Dog in movie: Bark!
Dog in movie: Bark!
Sound: Smack!
Dog in movie: Bark!:

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Considering dogs can only see in black and white (and all the grays in between), Fifty Shades of Grey would be a great book for Wishbone to reenact IMO! --Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 14:32, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

That's not correct, see wikipedia:Dog_anatomy#Vision. --Kronf (talk) 16:43, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
"[Dogs] are less sensitive to differences in grey shades than humans..." Interesting! 21:31, 9 May 2019 (UTC)
I stand corrected! However, I'll still leave up my comment because it gave me a chuckle thinking of it.--Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 18:02, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
More importantly your comment should remain for transparency reasons, one can't simply destroy any evidence that one was wrong 15:04, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

Didn't Wishbone get discontinued in 1998? There can't be a Fifty Shades of Grey episode. Davidy22(talk) 06:29, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

Maybe it got moved to "Adult Swim"? :) --B. P. (talk) 07:47, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
According to Wikipedia, you are correct and Wishbone ended in 1998, but if xkcd had to adhere to such a rigorous use of real life elements such as the proper time period in which a TV show used to air, then today's comic would have been impossible. You must be at least a little flexible. Also, I'm certain there isn't such an episode, that would be impossible, as you pointed out. The main thing here is that Randall combined both the nature of Wishbone with the nature of Fifty Shades of Grey to produce a hilarious concept which concludes in a magnificent explosion of laughter. I for one can look the other way in regards to the fact that Wishbone ended in 1998. I'm curious. Were you trying to troll the comments section? (no offence) --DelendaEst (talk) 09:52, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
That doesn't really seem like a troll post. He probably just doesn't get the comic. --SuspendedPhan (talk) 23:02, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
Oi, check the history of the explanation page. I wrote the explanation, I was just nitpicking here. Davidy22(talk) 23:06, 31 October 2012 (UTC)
I like looking back at old discussions because one of the main mods of the website just got called a troll. “That Guy from the Netherlands” (talk) 16:55, 5 April 2019 (UTC)

Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey is a "novel featuring large quantities of sex," but it is the kind of sex that is important; it is the fetish nature of the sexual exploits in the novel that set it apart from your every day harlequin romance novel, making it the fastest selling paperback. The novel is about a woman that agrees to be a sex slave for a wealthy man for a few months. She signs a lengthy contract that explains what's expected of her, and what he can do to her. The sexual acts involve combinations of BDSM fetishes, including restraints, submission, and inflicting/receiving pain for sexual pleasure. It is the inflicting/receiving pain detail that makes the noises from the TV "inappropriate" and not just someone disciplining/abusing a dog (which could also be inappropriate, just for very different reasons). -- (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I changed the explanation to "Great Illustrated Classics" rather than "Classics Illustrated" as the graphic novels are probably too old for Randall to have read extensively, but Illustrated Classics is right in his age range (speaking from personal experience). Also omitting the "great" from the title seemed more likely than reversing the words. By the way does anyone know how to add non Wikipedia links I want to link to http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-I-havent-Read-that-Great-Literary-Classic-but-Ive-seen-the-Wishbone/162079210527833 but just dumping the url in the explanation breaks the prose and when I tried to use the ref tag it failed miserably --Chexwarrior (talk) 18:09, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

You can use "[http://www.url.com this is a link!]" to get "this is a link!" (omit the quotes). http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Help:Links#External_links has that and more. - jerodast (talk) 16:26, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

I want this to be a thing. Just some random derp 23:40, 11 June 2015 (UTC)