875: 2009 Called

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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2009 Called
2017 called, but I couldn't understand what they were saying over all the screams.
Title text: 2017 called, but I couldn't understand what they were saying over all the screams.


The comic deconstructs a snowclone or common idiom - "X called, they want their Y back." In a common version, the "X" in this phrase is a year, or era, and "Y" is something that was common in that time, but is now unfashionable, or outright ridiculous.

Here, Megan notices a Three-Wolf Moon T-shirt that Cueball apparently owns. The Three-Wolf Moon is a shirt of three wolves howling at the moon that reached meme status when several people posted ironic reviews ascribing supernatural powers to it on Amazon around late 2008. Like many memes, it became popular for a short period, but rapidly became outdated.

Presumably, Megan is trying to say "2009 called, they want their shirt back", mocking Cueball for still owning something so outdated. Before she can finish, though, Cueball appears to take her literally, and responds as if she'd actually received a call from the year 2009. If she'd actually had the opportunity to communicate across time, that would be a golden opportunity to warn the people of the past about events that had not yet occurred. Specifically, he asks if she'd warned the people of the past about the February 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and admonishes her when she admits she didn't. Both of these were events in which huge amounts of human suffering and death likely could have been prevented with foreknowledge.

The comic was posted shortly after the latter disaster, so it is reasonable to assume that it was created as a specific response to what had occurred. It's not entirely clear whether Cueball is preempting Megan's attempt to mock him, or whether he actually thinks the past called.

The title text continues the snowclone by implying a terrible future awaits in 2017. Likewise, non-apocalyptic events, such as political protests, can generate "yelling and screaming". Given the public's general inclination to focus on the negative the prediction of a "bad future" may have worked with any date.

2017 has occurred, and the world hasn't exploded.[citation needed] In hindsight, 2020 would work better for the joke. [insert hindsight is 2020 joke here]

However, 2017 was actually one of the world's most devastating years in terms of natural disasters, for starters, there were Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria: all particularly devastating, for that particular corner of the world. In addition, the election of Donald Trump was upsetting for many people, especially people who did not agree with his controversial beliefs.


[Cueball is at computer. Megan is standing behind him, looking at clothes on the floor.]
Megan: Is this a three wolf moon shirt?
Megan: Dude, 2009 called, and they-
Cueball: OH MY GOD!
Megan: What? No, I-
Cueball: You ASSHOLE!


  • In 2013, the webcomic "Bearato Comics" ran a comic strip with a joke very similar to the joke in this XKCD comic. After the creator was notified by XKCD fans that he had used a joke already done on XKCD just two years earlier in his comic, the next comic strip on "Beartato Comics" then parodied the incident.

See also:

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I was too busy trading fashion tips, and they hung up before I could tell them. Davidy22[talk] 00:38, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

The '90s called. They wanted my pogs back. But, due to inflation, they couldn't offer me enough money for me to be willing to sell. I told them my friend, Oscar, has some Pokémon stuff, but the '90s had no interest in that crap. I made the right choice to choose pogs over Pokémon. Society made the wrong one. But, I digress. The '90s are doing rather well, and they miss us. 18:20, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

The only Pokémon stuff I ever had was a bunch of pogs, so... -- 18:26, 31 December 2016 (UTC)

2017 called, but I couldn't understand what they were saying over all the screams. I bet it was something about them being attacked by 4 Replicants. I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 23:49, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Well, that title text is feeling pretty prophetic now... 00:08, 12 November 2016 (UTC)

Hello it's 2017, please send help. 21:23, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

This is 2018 calling in, you'll be alright on your own. At least for the time being. -- 05:05, 14 January 2018 (UTC)
2020 here. We're hosed. 20:52, 6 April 2020 (UTC)
2021 says, I miss 2020, please send time machine172.70.206.205 03:13, 27 November 2021
2022 says, oh my god send help Covid is playing mix-and-match. 1:53, 1 Apr 2022 (UTC)
2023 here, no comment. 13:10, 13 November 2023 (UTC)
2024 here, MatPat's gone and that war is still ongoing. -- 08:18, 11 March 2024 (UTC)

This now stands as a piece of horrifying foreshadowing. Seriously, we're barely in april and things alredy look terrifying. I blame Randall for everything. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The screaming in 2017 was just an echo of everybody's collective screams from 2016 when almost everybody's favorite musician or celebrity died. We now refer to it as 'The Year Who's Number Shall Not be Spoken' 05:59, 15 February 2018 (UTC)

The explanation mentioned Trump, but it doesn't actually attack him too much. Good. We don't need all the Trump hate here. 22:28, 25 September 2018 (UTC)

I've removed the sentence because Randall is no clairvoyant. This comic is from 2011 and 2017 was not only a Trump year. And guessing about Clinton doesn't explain the comic at all. --Dgbrt (talk) 19:01, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
Shouldn't there be a [citation needed] after the statement that Randall isn't clairvoyant? -- 20:41, 6 January 2020 (UTC)
Well, clearly, he isn't. I mean, he was off by three whole years! But I guess you didn't know that, did you, 20:41 6 January 2020 (UTC)? 14:19, 8 June 2020 (UTC)
The notion that 2017 was a bad year seems comical in retrospect. I suspect by this time next year, we will feel the same way about 2020.
For the benefit of anyone reading this far enough in the future that the topical reference isn't obvious: There's a new virus and half a million people have died so far. It is still increasing exponentially. If you didn't hear about it it's because whatever happens after this is worse, probably. -- Singlelinelabyrinth (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
It's also possible that person reading it from future would still consider 2020 bad but for different reason. After all, historically speaking, the epidemic is not THAT bad (yet): it just shows how unprepared we were for it despite thinking otherwise. Just now, I'm little worried about how big temperature the person currently in charge of US nuclear weapons has. Sure, they SAY he's getting better ... I still think he should've transfer the codes to vicepresident at least for time he was in hospital. -- Hkmaly (talk) 03:10, 6 October 2020 (UTC)
1) *pandemic, 2) ??! Not that bad? Over twice as many people have died in the United States from COVID-19 than those who fought in World War I! I get that, with respect to the world, it's not been as devastating due to early restrictions, but it's still making a sizeable impression on people right now. Also, Singlelinelabyrinth is likely more correct than she/he thinks: a good contributor to it, and literally everything else happening right now, is the global warming of recent years. On the other hand, so as not to appear like your run-of-the-mill pugnacious liberal, I will agree with you that the codes should've been transferred to Pence during Trump's stay at the hospital.