What Nothing Looks Like


The internet is constantly in motion. New platforms and formats can mean that it is very difficult to find something again. This is where our good friend the 404 page comes in.

For those not in the know, a 404 page is what is shown when the web can’t find what you’re looking for. For some it is still a boring affair, a simple message or some code. But for some it’s a platform for cheering up the web’s frustrated. Here are some of Pause’s finds.

Starting with the biggest presence of the web. Google‘s error message centres around a robot who’s looking a bit worse for wear. Simple, it’s a good benchmark for the rest of the web.

Google error page

In the past, if a television went wrong then you’d see a testcard, examples of which you can see here. The BBC took this to heart, and their message features the famed Bubbles the Clown who has adorned the test card for nearly 50 years. Interestingly, in the event of a server crash, such as when everyone piles onto iPlayer, the accompanying 500 message is the same with added fire around the edges.

Bbc Error Page

Blog platform Tumblr is well known for their gif animations. So it’s therefore fitting that their page features some of the best of these. However, instead of trying to get the visitor to their page, they keep you fixated to the page with a set of truly hypnotising animations. Make sure you refresh the page several times.

Tumblr Error Page

Returning closer to home, your very own cinema Union Films has it’s own set of messages, from the some of the classics of the silver screen. Ranging from Back to the Future to Hot Fuzz, make sure you refresh several times to see them all. It’s a theme that seems popular in the film community: IMDB (the Internet Movie DataBase) has a wide variety of movie quotes to choose from for theirs.

IMDB error page

Winning the ‘what the hell’ stakes is the Metro, the free paper often found clogging up the bins outside London Underground stations. Their offering is a bear riding a skateboard. I know, it has to be seen to be understood.

A final offering comes from sports manufacturer Umbro. On their error page, they debate the finer flaws in football’s 4-0-4 tactic, including a detailed analysis of why having two men short is a stupid thing to allow to occur. So well made, the page could be mistaken for being genuine.

Umbro Error Page

So having looked at a pick of what nothing looks like, here’s something completely different.  If you don’t have the creativity to come up with something new, then there’s Notfound.org. They turn a lost page into just that – a page for the lost by showcasing a missing person on these error pages.

So there is Pause’s pick of the web’s 404 pages. But are there any crackers that we’ve missed out? Comment them below and make sure you search yourself!


History student and passionate writer about everything connected to Southampton and its rich tapestry of stories and history. Due to an unfortunate case of graduation, this writer is no longer active.

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