The System is Down

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This article is about the toon. For the song, see The System Is Down (song).
Toon Category: Shorts
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"The system is down, yo."

In January of 2003, suddenly and inexplicably went down. Patient viewers then saw this short toon, cleverly disguised as an error page.

Cast (in order of appearance): Homestar Runner, Strong Bad, Bubs

Places: Error Page

Date: Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Running Time: 1:05

Page Title: 404 Doodoo Error

DVD: Everything Else, Volume 1



{A typical Internet Explorer error page appears. The whistling of the wind is heard. Homestar Runner enters from the right.}

HOMESTAR RUNNER: {walks in and looks at the error message} Ummmm... what's going on here? What happened to my website?

{Strong Bad enters from the left.}

STRONG BAD: The system is down, yo.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Ohh... the system... Right, right.

STRONG BAD: Yeah, I think too many people tried to log on. {scratches his head} Uh... sorry about that.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: What are you sorry for? It's my website.

STRONG BAD: Um... I don't think they're coming to see you, Homestar.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: What, you think everybody's logging on to watch "tape-leg"? Yeah, that's a good one.

STRONG BAD: Hey, shut up! The tape-leg is cool. {Stretches his hand out and to the right}

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Well, when do I get my website back?

STRONG BAD: Oh, anytime now. We've got our top men working on it round-the-clock.

{Bubs enters from the left holding a motherboard.}

BUBS: Well, I found the problem. Looks like somebody tried to cram-a-lam a Swiss Cake Roll into the disk drive.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: Oh, really? {leaning toward Strong Bad, eyeing him suspiciously}

STRONG BAD: Uh, what are you looking at me for? I did—hut—wut—nany—huit— {runs off quickly}

{A handwritten sticky note, which is supposed to be a system alert message, is slapped onto the screen, that reads:}

This is real.
Image:Warning-gray.png System report:
Everything is fine. Nothing
is ruined.

HOMESTAR RUNNER: So, Bubs... What are you gonna do with that Swiss Cake Roll?

(You are automatically redirected to the TV Time Toons Menu.)

Fun Facts


  • This cartoon came about when the site was still on Yahoo's server. The site's popularity drove the bandwidth well into the terabytes (most toons are around half to almost a megabyte), which Yahoo overlooked for a time only because they were all fans. They finally had to shut it down because of the intense server consumption, hence the origins of the toon. However, the Store is still run by Yahoo!.



"Well, I found the problem."
  • There are actually two Swiss Cake Rolls "cram-a-lammed" in the computer's innards.
  • The error page is specifically for Internet Explorer 6, which makes it somewhat out of place for those using any other browser or version.
  • Bubs is actually holding a motherboard, not a disk drive. The design was copied from this image (comparison shown at right).
  • The motherboard appears to be of the ATX form factor, with six PCI slots and an ISA slot (all vacant), a single empty CPU socket, and three RAM slots.

Inside References

Real-World References

  • "We've got our top men working on it 'round the clock," said by Strong Bad, is a reference to what the government representative says to Indiana Jones about the status of the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • The phrase "cram-a-lam a Swiss Cake Roll" is an approximate paraprosdokian on the phrase "Rama Lama Ding Dong," which originated in a Doo-Wop song of the same name by The Edsels in 1958, the connection being that a Ding Dong (made by Hostess) is a similar type of snack cake to a Swiss Cake Roll (made by Little Debbie); however, the Hostess analog of a Swiss Cake Roll is a HoHo, not a Ding Dong.

Fast Forward

DVD Version

  • The DVD version features hidden creators' commentary. To access it, switch your DVD player's audio language selection while watching.

Commentary Transcript

(Commentary by: Mike Chapman, Matt Chapman)

MIKE: So, this is The System is Down, and we made it when the system really was down.

MATT: It was down for two whole days.

MIKE: In January of 2003.

MATT: That's right.

MIKE: So we made this cartoon, and we were going to put it on a different website, um, and email— uh, send out an email to everyone telling them that the system was down and to watch this cartoon.

MATT: To all fifteen people.

MIKE: To all fifteen people that were watching the site. But by the time we got done with it, the site was back up, so we just put in on there, and it ended up being a nice little, uh, cartoon.

MATT: A humor piece. A humor— A nice humor piece. We call these humor-toons, some of these.

MIKE: Homestar's got a little sass, and also—

MATT: Sass dackery.

MIKE: There's also a period where Homestar's dress/shirt was a slightly more magenta than red.

MATT: Yeah.

MIKE: Like look at the bill of his hat versus his body.

MATT: I don't like it. I remember we found a— we did a Google image search for "motherboard" or something and that's what, uh...

MIKE: {mumbles}

MATT: Yeah. Not a disk drive at all, is it?

MIKE: {laughs a little}

MATT: It's a motherboard.

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