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Suddenly, X! Thousands of Them! is a popular catchphrase used as an interrupter in discussion threads and online conversations. This formulaic phrase has been also adopted into image macros featuring a bunch of homogeneous items and the quote for comical effects. On high-traffic forums like 4Chan, this meme is used to revive conversations (see bump) or interrupt one.
NINJAS! THOUSANDS OF THEM!
The catchphrase had its beginning in GameFAQ’s Random Insanity message board, where “Ninjas! Thousands of them!” was popularly used as an offbeat plot twist in telling stories, often of serious or erotic nature:
Ninjas! Thousands of them! is a phrase commonly seen on GameFAQ’s Random Insanity. It is usually seen when a user tells what seems at first to be a normal story, then adds “Ninjas! Thousands of them!” when it is least expected. The stories often start seriously, and are often an erotic ones, and just when they reach the climax of the story, “ninjas” would come out of nowhere. The rest of the story usually consisted of the main character fighting these ninjas off derailing the entire story just for the big fight scene.
Another user’s account points to GameFAQ’s Life, the Universe, and Everything (LUE) board circa 2001 to 2002 as the origin of the catchphrase. The earliest reference to the bananas, thousands of them wa sposted in a discussion thread on LUE board on January 22, 2005.
Usage in Storytelling
It was suddenly full of frogs, thousands of them, as colorful as butterflies or coral fishes.- America Latina (1996) by Vladimir Dinets
Suddenly there were people, thousands of them, walking the paths along the river between villages of fragile huts built on stilts in the water. A few miles into Cambodia there were big doings.- Master of the Game (1989) by Guy Gulotta
Prior to its usage in online message boards, similar expressions have been employed in traditional storytelling to introduce a new character or an object in an abrupt manner. Also known as Deus ex machina, Latin for “god outside the machine,” such narrative device may be used to create a plot hole or a twist ending by bringing logically impossible scenarios into the story. One of the more relevant applications in modern literature is “Alien Space Bats”, a plot device used in alternate history fictions to create a point of divergence that would otherwise be implausible. The term was coined in August 1998 by Alice Brooks in Irony and Steal and popularized through the alternate history usenet group soc.history.what-if.
The original bananas image was seen on Imageshack, with a caption reading “Hundreds of Bananas” rather than “thousands” of them. This macro later became the most memorable instance of the series, with many variations on the sudden appearance of bananas alone.
Some of the early demotivational variations were posted on ROFLposters.com.
Notable Instance: 30000 Bananas
One of the most notable instances feature 30000 Bananas (2004), a public art installation created by American sculptor Doug Fishbone outside National Gallery in central London, UK.
The Banana macro has been misidentified as the original instance of the meme on many other websites, and variations have been floating around on sites like 4chan, I Can Has Cheezburger. As far as the interrupting part goes, other random memes can be dragged into it. An example of how it is used is as follows:
Occasionally it is vice versa, but still serving the same purpose:
There are multiple versions of this image with different pictures in the poster, but they must involve many, many bananas to work. Thousands of them.
Or at least five.