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“John is Kill” refers to a copypasta story that is meant to survey what people were doing at the time of the Beatles singer-songwriter John Lennon’s death on December 8th, 1980. The story, which is marked by improper English grammar and spelling errors, has inspired a number of variations featuring other deceased celebrities and musicians in substitute of the English rock star.
On January 10th, 2010, an anonymous 4chan user posted a thread apologizing for his “poor English” and asking other users “when were you when heat legend dies?”, a mispelling of deceased actor Heath Ledger.
On the same day, Body Building Forums member HITSTICK53 posted a thread titled “when were you when heat legend dies?”. On August 22nd, 2012, a version of the copypasta featuring the deceased Beatles musician John Lennon was posted to 4chan (shown below).
apology for poor english
when were you when john lenin dies?
i was sat at home eating smegma butter when pjotr ring
‘john is kill’
On the same day, Redditor Petryz submitted a screenshot of the original 4chan thread to the /r/4chan subreddit, where it gained over 3,000 up votes and 50 comments prior to being archived. On August 28th, 2012, the screenshot was reposted on FunnyJunk, accumulating upwards of 127,000 views and 1,500 comments in the following two years. On September 17th, a thread was created on 4chan urging users to post comments on Skrillex YouTube videos suggesting that the electronic music producer had died. Two days later, a compilation of hoax YouTube comments titled “When was you when Skrillex die?” was highlighted on FunnyJunk (shown below).
On October 23rd, Newgrounds Forums user Slint posted the “John is kill” copypasta in a thread titled “when were you when.” On November 22nd, the copypasta was reposted to the /sp/ (sports) board on 4chan. On April 2nd, 2013, YouTuber TheStolken uploaded a dramatic reading of the original copypasta (shown below).
On November 30th, a variation of the copypasta with deceased actor Paul Walker substituted for John Lennon was posted on 4chan (shown below). On December 1st, Redditor KINGcjb55 submitted a screenshot of the Paul Walker thread to the /r/4chan subreddit, where it gathered more than 2,100 up votes and 45 comments in four months. On January 8th, 2014, Urban Dictionary user OLPZach submitted an entry for “john is kill,” citing 4chan as the origin of the copypasta.