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Captain Hindsight is an image macro series based on the eponymous superhero character originally featured in an episode of the animated TV series South Park. Inspired by the character, image captions generally present various types of predicaments and then lecture on what could’ve been done differently to avoid the situation altogether (See Also: Captain Obvious).
Captain Hindsight first appeared in Season 14, Episode 11 of South Park titled “Coon 2: Hindsight” which aired on October 27th, 2010. In the episode, Captain Hindsight arrives at the scene of Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but instead of trying to resolve the crisis at hand, he explains to the crowd the precautions that should’ve been taken to prevent the disaster. Suddenly relieved, the crowd applaud as Captain Hindsight leaves behind the devastated beach:
The show’s creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker later explained that character’s mock-superpower was inspired by the heavy hindsight bias in the news analysis following the outbreak of BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2011.
On the same night as its broadcast, Urban Dictionary definition of Captain Hindsight was submitted by user Xero_Manifesto:
A stupid ass superhero from the South Park episode Coon 2: Hindsight. He flies around the world providing hindsight after every catastrophy that happens, but doesn’t actually do anything helpful.
On October 28th, Reddit user ironpirate83 posted a thread titled “BP knew well cement was ‘unstable’ – Captain Hindsight,” which linked to a MSNBC article indicating Haliburton may have been aware of the instability long prior to the accident.
In early November, more tribute accounts and pages to Captain Hindsight began to emerge on various parts of the web, including the Twitter account @Capt_Hindsight, Facebook page for Captain Hindsight and Tumblr. The snowclone formula “If (x), you shoul’ve done (y)” emerged as early as on November 12th, 2010 in a 4chan discussion thread about Minecraft:
Captain Hindsight resurged on 4chans’ /b/ board on March 13th, 2011, shortly after the Touhoku earthquake and tsunami across Japan. The date also coincides with upload date of the earliest image macro instance on Quickmeme: