1648: Famous Duos

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Famous Duos
The Romeo and Butt-Head film actually got two thumbs up from Siskel and Oates.
Title text: The Romeo and Butt-Head film actually got two thumbs up from Siskel and Oates.


In popular culture (the term is loosely used in this case) there are many famous duos, such as Calvin & Hobbes (six-year-old boy and his toy tiger, from the cartoon strip with the same name) or David & Goliath (famous past King of Israel and giant, Biblical characters from the Book of Samuel in the Old Testament). (See the trivia section regarding an on-line list of duos).

In this table, Randall describes a fictional parallel universe where the same names are used in different combinations — instead of Calvin, it is now Thelma (from the movie Thelma & Louise) who is paired up with Hobbes, and Calvin is instead paired off with the King, from Anna and the King. In all cases the one mentioned first on the list is also mentioned first in our universe, so it is always of the form Calvin and the King, never Calvin and Anna. There are 24 duos, and all 48 partners are mentioned (they go through four cycles). (In the title text of 1644: Stargazing from the week before this comic, there is an indirect reference to parallel universes/multiverse).

The humor of this comic comes from the ridiculousness of the pairings, and the reader's imagination of the stories that are created with the pairs. See the whole list of real duos as well as the list of alternative duos below, with more detailed explanations.

In the title text, alternative movie Romeo and Butt-Head is mentioned, the fifth entry on the list. This is a combination of the famous Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet and Beavis and Butt-Head. Romeo and Juliet has been filmed many times; most recently in Romeo + Juliet from 1996 with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the leading roles. Butt-Head is the less stupid one (of the very stupid duo) from the animated TV series Beavis and Butt-Head (and a film). As Romeo and Juliet is one of the best known love stories and Butt-Head is one of the most disgusting teens ever depicted on the big screen (only overtaken by Beavis), the combination could create disturbing pictures in people's heads (especially in the heads of anyone who may identify themselves with Juliet).

In the alternative universe, when this movie was released, it got the best possible review of two thumbs up from the critics Siskel and Oates. Gene Siskel was paired with Roger Ebert, when they reviewed movies as the famous duo Siskel and Ebert. They were widely known for the "thumbs up/thumbs down" review summaries, with their best combined review being Two Thumbs Up, one from each of them. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, they actually gave Beavis & Butthead Do America Two Thumbs Up.

In the alternative universe Siskel and his partner gives the film a (surprising) two thumbs up, but Ebert has been replaced with Oates. This is a reference to John Oates of Hall & Oates, a famous American musical duo from Philadelphia.

There also exists a comedy duo named Garfunkel and Oates, formed by Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, who chose the "Garfunkel and Oates" name by combining the second names from both Hall & Oates and Simon and Garfunkel (the latter duo is mentioned in the main comic). Although this exact combo would not be possible in the xkcd version, as the "real universe" combo takes the second names from two duos rather than the first name from one and the second name from another (as in this comic), there may definitely be a deliberate reference to this group as well which has taken the parallel universe idea into our universe.

List of real duos[edit]

  • See the list of alternative duos below.
  • In this list the partner index indicates whom the second from the duo is linked with in the comic
    • So in the case with Thelma (index 1) and Louise (partner index 3), this means that Louise is paired up with Batman (index 3).
    • Thelma is paired up with the Hobbes who has partner index 1.
Famous duos in this universe
Name pairing Partner Explanation Name index Partner index
Thelma and Louise Thelma & Louise is a famous road trip film from 1991. 1 3
When Harry Met Sally When Harry Met Sally... is a romantic comedy film from 1989. 2 16
Batman and Robin Batman and Robin are comic book characters (first appearance for Batman was in 1939, Robin the year after). There have been several films including one called Batman & Robin from 1997. A new Batman film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had its release date three weeks after the release of this comic (2016-02-26). 3 4
Antony and Cleopatra Antony and Cleopatra are historical figures who had an affair and three children together after the death of Julius Caesar up to Anthony's death 30 BC. Their combined names are best known from the play Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. 4 12
Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet are characters from Shakespeare's famous romantic tragedy, from 1597, made into several major films. 5 24
Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde were American criminals who traveled the central United States with their gang during the Great Depression until their death on May 23, 1934. They are well known from the film Bonnie and Clyde. 6 7
Pinky and the Brain Two mice from Pinky and the Brain, an American animated TV series from the 1990s. 7 20
Simon and Garfunkel Simon & Garfunkel is a very famous musical duo from the 1960s. (See also explanation for the title text). 8 22
Beauty and the Beast Beauty and the Beast are fairy tale characters from a French book from 1740, today best known from the Disney film from 1991. 9 10
Beavis and Butt-head Beavis and Butt-Head is an animated TV series from the 1990s shown on MTV. 10 5
Rocky and Bullwinkle A flying squirrel and a moose known from the The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, an American animated TV series from the 1960s. 11 2
Abbott and Costello Abbott and Costello is a famous American comedy duo whose work in vaudeville and on stage, radio, film and television made them the most popular comedy team during the 1940s. They are known for their famous Who's on First sketch. 12 17
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Not really a duo, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the two sides of a well known character from the book Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. It has been adapted into several films. 13 15
Samson and Delilah Not really a duo, Samson and Delilah are Biblical characters from the Book of Judges (chapters 13-16). Samson was given supernatural strength by God in order to combat his enemies. However, Samson had two vulnerabilities: his attraction to untrustworthy women, and his hair, without which he was just a normal man. These vulnerabilities ultimately proved fatal for him when Delilah had him reveal the secret of his hair, which she subsequently cut off. Then she handed him over to be captured by the Philistines, who gouged his eyes out and brought him to imprisonment in Gaza. He died while in capture but on his own terms. Delilah had not explained why he was no longer strong, so his hair had been allowed to grow out again. When he got it all back, he used his power to destroy a temple he was led into, taking many enemies with him in death. 14 11
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid They are historical criminals who died in 1908. They were notorious American train and bank robbers with the Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch gang in 1899-1901. They were made famous by the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid from 1969. 15 23
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
and Bogus Journey
Bill & Ted are characters from the two films Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991). The two titles are spread out on the two new pairings for Bill and Ted, in recognition that this duo is mainly known for these two films, although there also is a spin-off animated series from 1990-1991. 16 6
David and Goliath Not really a duo, David and Goliath were biblical adversaries best known from "small" David's defeat of giant Goliath in the story David and Goliath. David later became the second king of Israel, according to the Books of Samuel, and according to the New Testament, an ancestor of Jesus. 17 8
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson Characters from Arthur Conan Doyle's famous books (from 1887-1927) which have been made into numerous films. In 2009 and 2011, a new series of movies has been released with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as the two characters. There have also been several TV series. 18 19
Jay and Silent Bob Jay and Silent Bob is a strange duo from View Askew's film universe, first seen in the film Clerks from 1994. A film called Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was later released in 2001. The director of these movies, Kevin Smith plays Silent Bob, who of course rarely speaks, but when he finally does it often becomes a long defining monologue. Jay (played by Jason Mewes) talks all the time! 19 18
Anna and the King Recently made famous by the 1999 film Anna and the King, based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. The Langdon novel was based on two memoirs written by Anna Leonowens in 1870 and 1872, from her experience as royal governess for King Mongkut's children and language secretary for the King from 1862-1867. 20 21
Calvin and Hobbes Calvin and Hobbes is a comic series by Bill Watterson that ran from 1985-1995. Calvin is a six-year-old boy and Hobbes is Calvin's stuffed tiger and best friend, who becomes a living anthropomorphic tiger in Calvin's private fantasy world. They have been featured regularly in xkcd, most prominently in the "duo" comic: 409: Electric Skateboard (Double Comic). 21 1
Timon and Pumbaa Timon and Pumbaa are characters from The Lion King film (1994) and they also have their own film from 2004 and a TV series that ran from 1995-1999. There have been many references to The Lion King in xkcd, for instance the comment in the final panel of 1504: Opportunity, is from the original movie. 22 14
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen Known as the Olsen twins, these fraternal twin actresses born in 1986 have been on TV since they were infants (on Full House from 1987) and began starring together in TV, film, and video projects, which enabled them to join the ranks of the wealthiest women in the entertainment industry at a young age. They have previously been the pun of the joke in 362: Blade Runner. 23 13
Mario and Luigi In the Mario series of video games, which started with the 1983 game Mario Bros., Mario and his brother Luigi are the main characters. Mario games have been referenced in several xkcd comics, such as 151: Mario and the comics in the Mario Kart category. 24 9

List of alternative duos[edit]

Famous Duos in a nearby parallel universe
Duo name Explanation
Thelma and Hobbes In this essay Political Philosophies in Thelma and Louise the sentence Thelma and Hobbes's Total Sovereign Authority can be found. In this case it is a reference to Thomas Hobbes as the essay is an analysis of Thelma and Louise's actions and the decision they make in comparison to the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Hobbes was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy. He also developed some of the fundamentals of European liberal thought, which could be said to be relevant for the movie.
When Harry met Bullwinkle Billy Crystal who played Harry in When Harry Met Sally... also has an uncredited cameo part as a mattress salesman in the movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (see the list of uncredited actors on IMDb). In this real action movie, Rocky and Bullwinkle ends up in the real world, where it thus becomes likely that Billy who played Harry ends up meeting Bullwinkle "in real life".
Batman and Louise This duo's name comes rather close to the real duo Clark Kent and Lois Lane especially since the film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was set for release three weeks after the release of this comic in February 2016.
Antony and Robin There is a book called Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" written by a Robin Lee.
Romeo and Butthead It would be quite a different story if either Butt-head should replace Juliet or if Romeo should replace Beavis... (Note Butt-Head is spelled with a hyphen, but has been misspelled in the comic.)
Bonnie and Ted's excellent adventure There was not much excellent about the adventure for Bonnie as Ted Hinton was a Dallas County, Texas, deputy sheriff, the youngest of the posse that ambushed and killed Bonnie and Clyde in 1934. That they could have had an excellent adventure in an alternative universe becomes clear from this segment from his history on Wikipedia: "Ted Hinton was also once acquainted with young Bonnie Parker while she was working in Marco's Cafe in Dallas. Because of her good looks, many of the male customers would flirt with her. Hinton was always gentlemanly and treated Bonnie with respect. Hinton admitted in a later biography that he had a crush on Bonnie, which made it difficult for him as one of the men on the team sent to kill her and her lover, Clyde."

The idea of Bill and Ted seeking out Bonnie and Clyde as part of their time-traveling history project is not too out-there, as they already pick up outlaw Billie the Kid in our universe.

Pinky and Clyde As can be seen in the table above this refers to Pinky the mouse from Pinky and the Brain and Clyde from Bonnie and Clyde. But Pinky and Clyde are also the names of the pink and orange Pacman ghosts in this universe. They are, however, not a duo as there are four ghosts (Blinky and Inky being the two others).
Simon and Goliath Goliath begins with G as Garfunkel. Simon was the shorter of the duo thus fitting as David vs. Goliath.
Beauty and Luigi No direct relation to either Mario or the Beast. However, each story has had a less-popular adaptation that takes place in the sewers of New York City: the 1993 Super Mario Bros. film and the 1987-1990 "Beauty and the Beast" TV series. Of course, Mario and Luigi are beast hunters rather than beasts.[citation needed]
Beavis and the Beast Beavis starts with the same three letters as Beauty, just like Beast does.
Rocky and Delilah There is a book called Delilah's Daughters, by Angela Benson, where Delilah Monroe's (note the closeness to Munroe) late husband is called Rocky. (See also Rocky and Delilah on YouTube...)
Abbot and Cleopatra Abbot starts with an A as does Anthony. Cleopatra starts with a C as does Costello.
Dr. Jekyll and Ashley Olsen In the Robert Louis Stevenson story, Dr. Jekyll has a sinister alter-ego in Mr. Hyde just like twins are (almost) the same persons. Though the Olsen twins are not identical twins, as children the two shared the role of Michelle Tanner on the U.S. sitcom Full House. Jekyll and Hyde are two people in one body, while Mary Kate and Ashley were, in a way, one person in two bodies. There are only three switches in this cycle. Butch Cassidy takes Mr. Hyde and the other Olson twin takes The Sundance Kid. This means that both twins are paired with a man instead of as in real life with a woman. The idea of Dr. Jekyll's secret evil alter-ego being a teenage girl is very silly.
Samson and Pumbaa Samson has several letters in common with Timon but Samson is a huge man where Timon is a very small animal compared to the other main characters in The Lion King film.
Butch Cassidy and Mr. Hyde As per the above explanation for Dr. Jekyll and Ashley Olsen, this outlaw and murderer duo might be considered the Olsen sisters.
Bill and Sally's Bogus Journey In this case study regarding retirement we meet Bill and Sally (as Sally met Harry). It could be said to be a bogus journey as it is just a case study.
David and Costello As Costello was the smaller of Abbot and Costello this does not match up with David vs. a Goliath as it did with Goliath vs small Simon.
Sherlock Holmes and Silent Bob This is the only case of a direct switch between two duos. Dr. Watson usually listen to the musings of Sherlock Holmes and Silent Bob is, as his name indicates, mainly silent. Jay talks all the time.
Jay and Dr. Watson See explanation above for their respective real universe partners (the only case of a direct switch between two duos).
Anna and the Brain The Brain desires to take over the world; the King is ruler of his domain.
Calvin and the King Although it is Calvin's fantasy that decides what happens, it is Hobbes that behaves like the King in their relationship at least when it comes to displaying physical strength to determine who decides.
Timon and Garfunkel Timon is put together with Garfunkel, which makes it a close match to Simon and Garfunkel.
Mary-Kate and the Sundance Kid See above explanation for Dr. Jekyll and Ashley Olsen.
Mario and Juliet Mario would have no issue with balconies. His name has some similarities with Romeo. Also, like Romeo, he is an Italian stereotype.


  • There are four cycles.
  • The cycles listed below are sorted like explained this example from the longest cycle:
    • It starts with "Thelma" (from Thelma and Louse), who is paired with "Hobbes". Hobbes is then shown diagonally down in the next entry below, Calvin and Hobbes, thus leading from "Hobbes" to "Calvin", who is similarly paired with "the King" leading to Anna and so on, until "Batman" is paired with "Louise", completing the cycle.
  • First cycle: length 15
   Thelma & Louise
   Calvin & Hobbes
   Anna   & the King
   Pinky  & the Brain
   Bonnie & Clyde
   Bill   & Ted
   Harry  & Sally
   Rocky  & Bullwinkle
   Samson & Delilah
   Timon  & Pumbaa
   Simon  & Garfunkel
   David  & Goliath
   Abbot  & Costello
   Antony & Cleopatra
   Batman & Robin
  • Second cycle: length 4
   Romeo  & Juliet
   Beavis & Butthead
   Beauty & the Beast
   Mario  & Luigi
  • Third cycle: length 3
   Dr. Jekyll    & Mr. Hyde
   Mary-Kate     & Ashley Olsen
   Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
  • Fourth cycle: length 2
   Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson
   Jay             & Silent Bob
  • Assigning an index starting with 1 (= Thelma & Louise) to 24 (= Mario & Luigi), they can be written as:
   (1, 21, 20, 7, 6, 16, 2, 11, 14, 22, 8, 17, 12, 4, 3)
   (5, 10, 9, 24)
   (13, 23, 15)
   (18, 19)


[Caption above the panel:]
Famous Duos in a nearby parallel universe
[A list with 24 duos with a gray “and" between the two names (in one case it is a “met") and three times there is a gray word before (once) or after (twice) the names. The list is centered with the “and" in the middle disregarding the length of the names on each side:]
Thelma and Hobbes
When Harry met Bullwinkle
Batman and Louise
Antony and Robin
Romeo and Butthead
Bonnie and Ted's excellent adventure
Pinky and Clyde
Simon and Goliath
Beauty and Luigi
Beavis and the Beast
Rocky and Delilah
Abbot and Cleopatra
Dr. Jekyll and Ashley Olsen
Samson and Pumbaa
Butch Cassidy and Mr. Hyde
Bill and Sally's Bogus Journey
David and Costello
Sherlock Holmes and Silent Bob
Jay and Dr. Watson
Anna and the Brain
Calvin and the King
Timon and Garfunkel
Mary-Kate and the Sundance Kid
Mario and Juliet


  • Here is a ranked list with The Best Duos of All Time.
    • When this comic came out there were still less than 300 duos on the list.
    • 16 of the 24 in the comic, and one of the two mentioned in the title text were on this list.
    • Below the ranking refers to where they were on the list Sunday after the release of the comic (on Friday).
    • The index refers to the index from the table above with the list of real duos.
Ranking (on 2016-02-28) of famous Duos
Rank Duo Index
2 Batman and Robin 3
8 Holmes and Watson 18
11 Simon and Garfunkel 8
22 Thelma and Louise 1
23 Pinky and The Brain 7
24 Hall and Oates 26 Title text
31 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 15
35 Calvin and Hobbes 21
41 Jay and Silent Bob 19
46 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 13
71 Abbott and Costello 12
79 Beauty and the Beast 9
85 Antony and Cleopatra 4
99 Beavis and Butt-head 10
106 Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen 23
110 Romeo and Juliet 5
206 Rocky and Bullwinkle 11
N/A When Harry Met Sally... 2
N/A Samson and Delilah 14
N/A Bill & Ted 16
N/A David and Goliath 17
N/A Anna and the King 20
N/A Timon and Pumbaa 22
N/A Mario and Luigi 24
N/A Siskel and Ebert 25 Title text

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No rhyme nor reason to these pairings?

It appears the pairings are completely random. I was looking for some deeper meaning to them but it seems this is one of those comics to be taken entirely at face value. 14:18, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Aren't "Pinky and Clyde" also the names of the pink and orange Pacman ghosts? 11:48, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Yes, this is true. Are there any other sensible pairings? 17:10, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
I noticed an interesting pun with "Timon and Garfunkel" in that "Timon" is the same as "Simon" just with a different first letter. And "Mario" rhymes with "Romeo" 20:25, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
I added this to the explanation. Mikemk (talk) 05:45, 27 February 2016 (UTC)
There seems to be many sensible pairings... --Kynde (talk) 16:19, 28 February 2016 (UTC)

You've already posted the correct pairs, but of course I wanted to draw them with lines, nursery school style:

http://i.imgur.com/tWTJAYC.gif 15:33, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Possible inspiration

Possible inspiration: the comedy music duo calling themselves Garfunkel and Oates 15:45, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Yes, that was my first thought as well. Never heard of Hall. 16:08, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
If you're from the U.S. and over 35, you probably should have. Hall & Oates are the best-selling musical duo of all time. Fryhole (talk) 20:47, 26 February 2016 (UTC)
"Never heard of Hall", this statement saddens me greatly, LOL! It's up there with Kanye fans thinking he discovered Paul McCartney. :) Wow. I myself had barely heard of Garfunkel & Oates until I looked up and watched their show, they're the obscure ones here. I, however, agree that they probably inspired this comic, or at least contributed. - NiceGuy1 00:54, 27 February 2016 (UTC)
I was thinking of (Captains) Scott and Oates , I must admit, but then I'm British. (Needs more emphasis... "...but then I'm British!!" That's better. We do love our glorious failures, at least our historic ones.) 10:22, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

As currently described, the cycles thing does not make any sense to me. The order seems wrong. For example, the way the first cycle makes sense is to start with Thelma and Louise, Batman and Robin; and end with Anna and the King,Calvin and Hobbes. That way you've arrived back at the top and would only repeat if you continued. Can anyone justify the current order? Trlkly (talk) 19:01, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Yeah, you can do it that way and will arrive at the same cycle lengths, each cycle just backwards. The way I did it was to go from "Thelma" to "Hobbes", then go to "Calvin" because that's who "Hobbes" belongs to, then go from "Calvin" to "The King" and so on. If the first name is the order of couples, then the second name basically just tells you the index where to jump next, that's usually how permutations are written. Your way considers the second names to be in the right order and uses the first as an index to jump to next. I also doubt it's an important part of the meaning, but I was curious how long the cycles would be. or (talk) 19:38, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

The rating system for "At the Movies", at least during Siskel and Ebert's term, was that each reviewer would give a thumbs up or thumbs down. "Two thumbs up" referred to the aggregate rating when both reviewers liked the film. The explanation said that Siskel gave Romeo and Butthead two thumbs up, which wouldn't make sense if we assume that the show's rules were the same. Fryhole (talk) 20:47, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

Haven't there been some similar comics? I cannot remember which... The style reminds of 1625: Substitutions 2 and 1288: Substitutions. But they are not like this in theme. --Kynde (talk) 23:08, 26 February 2016 (UTC)

I thought it was interesting how there's only one "Bill" and one "Ted", but both their movies are represented, I thought it indicated that there was some mismatch, like an incomplete pair somewhere... But sorting it out, I realize now that's it's only that "Bill" got one complete title, "Ted" the other. Oh well. Usually view these on my iPad, I needed a computer to truly analyze. Turns out I nerd-sniped myself, LOL! - NiceGuy1 00:47, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

Seems to me that Harry/Sally are outliers here. Every other pair is exclusively, or by far most commonly, known by the same regular pairing format of "A&B," but Harry/Sally are not most often named as a duo, as 'Harry & Sally,' but through the movie's title, "When Harry Met Sally." When I saw 'Sally' in my first read-through, I instantly wondered "Who's the X in 'X & Sally?" (Having already managed to forget 'When Harry Met' above.) The only 'A&B format' pairing which I could casually dredge up with a 'Sally' was "Sally Rand And Her Magic Fan," a risqué 1930's-40's burlesque performance in which a seemingly near-nude Ms. Rand held & used large ostrich feather fans as strategic cover, thereby teasing the audience. However, in that instance not only was Sally's A&B 'partner' an inanimate object (& thus not quite a "duo"), Sally was the pair's 'A,' while the comic's pattern requires her to be the second, 'B' name. Miamiclay (talk) 18:09, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

"Mario and Joliet" is the title of an episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show that retells Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. --Tepples (talk) 02:30, 1 March 2016 (UTC)