VIII.2 Movie Narrative Charts (Comic #657)

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Randall Munroe

Randall Munroe’s Movie Narrative Charts displays the same mix of brainy humor, fanboy enthusiasms, and minimalist aesthetic that has made his webcomic, xkcd, such a phenomenon. The charts pictured here plot character trajectories from several popular films, using horizontal lines to track events in time and vertical arrangements to signify characters’ groupings and partings. The largest of the five charts, Lord of the Rings, has characters color-coded according to the major races of Middle Earth: hobbits, elves, dwarves, men, wizards, and ents. Smaller charts at the bottom use a similar approach to make witty commentary on their films’ plots. The unwavering parallel lines of the jurors in 12 Angry Men reflect the deadlocked, claustrophobic atmosphere of this classic courthouse thriller, while the notoriously twisty plot of the cult film Primer is mimicked by its chart’s spaghetti ball of character development lines. To see more of Munroe’s slightly skewed and endlessly inventive creations, visit his webcomic’s site at


Munroe, Randall. 2009. Movie Narrative Charts (Comic #657). Courtesy of In "8th Iteration (2012): Science Maps for Kids," Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Todd Theriault.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.