542: Cover-Up

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Man, this trick has saved me so many times.
Title text: Man, this trick has saved me so many times.


Black Hat and Danish are trying to clean up the mess that some bloody murder most likely performed by them has left. This story may thus be a continuation of 515: No One Must Know.

Another guy, Cueball, is on his way home and is about to arrive just when they are finishing the clean up. But then Black Hat realizes that the ceiling has also been stained (by the violent murder...) And now they do not have time to fix it.

But Black Hat knows how to deal with the situation, and when Cueball comes home, he says: "Did you know 'gullible' is written on your ceiling?"

Gullible means easily deceived or naive. An old and simple prank is to make an unlikely claim related to the word "gullible". For example, you might claim that the word "gullible" isn't in the dictionary, or that someone wrote the word "gullible" in the sky. The notion that you're deceiving the other person is embedded in the claim, so if they believe you (even for long enough to check), they're labelling themselves as gullible.

Here, Black Hat uses the existence of such pranks to his advantage. When he makes the claim, Cueball immediately catches the joke, and deliberately avoids looking at the ceiling, to prove that he wasn't fooled. Of course, preventing him from looking at the ceiling was the entire point.

The title text is hinting that Black Hat has had to cover up killing people several times as this trick has saved him many times. Of course there could also be other things than blood that he had to hide (the money he just stole, drugs, etc.)


[Black Hat looking slightly up is holding two rags stained red with blood while Danish is holding an equally bloody mop.]
Black Hat: Okay, got the blood off the walls.
Danish: I finished the floor.
[Black Hat drops the bloody rags behind him while looking up at the ceiling, Danish has put the bloody mop behind her leaning against the wall while covering her mouth with her hands.]
Black Hat: Good; he'll be home any-
Black Hat: Oh crap! We forgot to clean the ceiling!
[Black Hat has moved away from the bloody rags towards Danish who has taken her hands down. They look straight at each other. The bloody mop has fallen over on the floor.]
Danish: There's no time!
Black Hat: Wait, I'll handle it.
[Cueball with briefcase enters the house through the front door behind him, still standing open. He is greeted by Black Hat holding out a hand towards him. The corner of the room and the wall behind them and past the door is outlines with three lines connecting in the corner.]
Black Hat: Hi. Did you know "gullible" is written on your ceiling?
Cueball: Hah. Yeah, right.

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It could be a reference to the ASDF Videos... 12:31, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Eeeeeeeeeexcept that asdfmovie 2 (the one which includes the "it says gullible on the ceiling" sketch) was first uploaded in January 2010 ... a good 11 months after this comic was published. Given the style and timeline of the asdfmovie shorts, it's rather more likely that they were (as a whole!) inspired by xkcd, not the other way around... 15:45, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

Actually it's a really, really old practical joke. Note how cueball is clearly familiar with the gag and doesn't 'fall for it'. 15:30, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Actually, Blackhat actually says its an old joke.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 18:48, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

We learn later, in 1102: Fastest-Growing that Rob is Black Hat's roommate. So I propose changing this to "Rob" instead of "Cueball". See here. Djbrasier (talk) 13:31, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

In Fastest-Growing we do not even see "Rob" so we do not even know if this is the Cueball Rob... Also just because Black-Hat nows a Rob in one comic this doesn't mean he is his room-mate. --Kynde (talk) 13:18, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

Changed "gaze" in the explanation to "glance", which makes more sense. -Pennpenn 04:21, 15 June 2015 (UTC)

Black Hat's words to Cueball give me the impression that Black Hat broke in (perhaps to murder Cueball's roommate?) and Cueball doesn't care. 09:16, 22 August 2017 (UTC)