If you were using Microsoft Word in the late ‘90s, you probably remember Clippy, the anthropomorphic paperclip who popped up from time to time in order to offer tips on how to better use Microsoft Office. That is, until Microsoft demoted Clippy with the introduction of Office XP in 2001, only to finally kill him in 2007. Love him or hate him, Clippy’s been effectively dead ever since—until earlier this week when Microsoft briefly resurrected him for about a day before killing him again.
On Tuesday, Clippy was featured in an animated sticker pack in Microsoft Teams. The stickers were then released via GitHub so that anyone could download the Clippy stickers and relive that sweet Office 97 nostalgia. Except, by Wednesday, the stickers were gone. If you peek at the official Office GitHub page, Clippy is nowhere to be found.
Clippy’s brief revival apparently did not sit well with Microsoft’s internal brand police—a company spokesperson told The Verge.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for a reason why Clippy was so brutally murdered like that, but a source familiar with the situation told The Verge that the stickers angered Microsoft’s “brand police.” A company spokesperson told The Verge:
Clippy has been trying to get his job back since 2001, and his brief appearance on GitHub was another attempt. While we appreciate the effort, we have no plans to bring Clippy to Teams.
Dang—that’s cold. It makes sense that Microsoft might still be sore over all the hate Clippy’s gotten over the years. There have been countless think pieces written about why he’s one of the most hated office assistants of all time. But a small batch of cute stickers wasn’t exactly hurting anybody, so it’s a bit odd that Microsoft seems so keen on keeping Clippy out of sight. Especially since the nostalgia machine has given Clippy a bit of a resurgence in the past few years. One would’ve thought that the moment was ripe for Clippy’s redemption.
Really. Clippy has some serious fans. In 2017, an extension adding Clippy to every site you visited was added to the Chrome Web Store and it has since been downloaded by 1,087 users. There are inexplicable Clippy stickers up for sale on Redbubble and even more paraphernalia on Etsy. If you’re a brave soul with no fear, you can also google “Clippy fanart” or search the #clippy tag on DeviantArt. (There’s one particular fanart of a pregnant Clippy that even disturbed his original designer.) Oh, and there’s also the less creepy petition to bring back the Clippy sticker messaging pack, which as of this writing currently has 493 votes.
Still, who would have thought that in 2019 Clippy, in his perennial search for meaningful employment and a reason to exist, would become a new icon for the millennial struggle?