6 Sci-Fi “Futurama” References You Might Not Know Were Based on Books

By on February 13, 2012

The FOX then Comedy Central sci-fi animated series, “Futurama” is a plethora of geeky references and myriad nerdy jokes. The show takes place in the year 3000 after our “hero,” Fry, gets cryogenically frozen and thawed out in the futuristic world.

FOX canceled the show after a few season (probably because FOX cancelling everything good in the world like “Arrested Development,” “Firefly” “Dollhouse” and many, MANY more.) After four post series movies, and tons of fan feedback, Comedy Central brought it back (with plenty of jokes aimed at poking FOX).

Basically, it is a pretty awesome show. And if you have ever seen it (or seen every episode probably 15 times like myself) then you know that the show basically lives off sci-fi references. But you might not know that many of those references are actually based on novels as well.

It’s a good thing we were able to put a list together for you! So here you go, 6 sci-fi references from “Futurama” that you didn’t know where based on book. (I also included a few honorable mentions as well.)

 

I, Robot

This classic book of short stories by Isaac Asimov has been the fuel for many many science fiction stories. And many aspects of “Futurama” are in reference to the stories. Even the third episode on the series is called, “I, Roommate” which is a direct reference to Asimov. But here are two that many people miss.

In the episode “The Cyber House Rules” (season 3 episode 9) Leela gets her eye fixed and she gets a second eye grafted on to make her look normal. In the montage that follows she stops at a store called, “Eye Robot”.  It is pretty easy to miss but puns are one of my favorite things. They also use this same pun humor is used in the season 3 episode, “Anthology of Interest II” in the minisode “I, Meatbag”.

 

Soylent Green

This is definitely one of the greatest sci-fi films from its time. And it is referenced and parodied all over the entertainment world. However, you might not know that the movie was actually loosely based upon the 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison. Soylent green is so well known that in “Futurama” it’s a part of the world they live in. In both “Fry and the Slurm Factory” and “Roswell That Ends Well” they drink a soda called Soylent Cola.  Which if you want to know what Soylent Cola tastes like, well, it varies from person to person. Lets not forget the main cooking ingredient in “The 30% Iron Chef” is Soylent Green

 

2001 – A Space Odyssey

This film often lands on top ten best movie lists. I mean it IS directed by Stanley Kubrick which basically means its gold. It is also one of the go to films for science fiction. It makes sense that in turn “Futurama” references this film more than any other. But this film is also originally based on the book written by Arthur C. Clarke. But seriously, there are a ton of references in “Futurama” to this movie, It is reasonable to believe the creators of this show liked the movie just as much as the rest of the world. First we have the episode  “Put Your Head On my Shoulder” when there is a Out of order Monolith as they are flying through space. This show also uses the music  “Also Sprach Zarasthura” several times such as in  “A Bicyclops Built for Two” and “Godfellas.” Then in the episode, “ Insane in the Main Frame” the name of the mental hospital Fry and Bender stay at is The HAL Institute for criminally insane robots. Then again in “Roswell That Ends Well” we see a vortex very similar to that in the film and described in the book. “Love and a Rocket” is an obvious one because of the intellegence function the Planet Express Ship takes on is basically HAL. We see another vortex similar scene in “The Sting” as well.

It kind of feels like you can’t go a season without a reference to 2001: A Space Oddyssey.

Planet of the Apes

We recently had a guest post featuring this film as its subject, and thats because there is almost no one in the world who hasn’t seen this film. (I also don’t think you can watch one “geeky” show without one character using the most popular quote…. yes I mean the damn dirty ape quote). But it is also a film based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. It is one of the most popular (and lucrative) sci-fi series in the world. So of course “Futurama” is no different when it comes to loving it. First we have the episode “Raging Bender” in which one of the scenes in the background you can see a poster that replicates the famous one from the movie. The poster reads, “Planet of the Clams”; it is just for a second but an obvious reference to the movie. Then in one of my favorite episodes, “Future Stock,” Calculon says a variation on the famous quote we all love, “Get your filthy tricycle off me, you damn dirty ape!” My favorite reference to the film and book is in “The Late Philip J. Fry.” We see the five different apocalypses Earth goes through all reminiscent of the famous scene with the Statue of Liberty.

The Time Machine

I think this one is pretty obvious. There are two movies based on the book written by H.G. Wells and both included the iconic time machine design. Which in turn is the same time machine that the professor uses in two separate episodes. In “A Clone of My Own” and also “The Late Philip J. Fry.” But who doesn’t love The Time Machine? Totally worth mentioning.

Starship Troopers

Ok, seriously, this is one my favorite movies ever, and when I read the novel it was based on, I loved it even more (although the movie took some HEAVY liberties). The book was written by Robert A. Heinlein, and “Futurama” took the model of the soldiers and used it in their army scenes in episodes “War is the H-Word” and “Three Hundred Big Boys.” (It is also interesting to note that the Alliance soldiers in Firefly are the same uniforms from Starship Troopers. But that doesn’t apply here soooo…..)

Honorable Mentions:

Here are a few honorable mentions for sci-fi references in “Futurama” that I wasn’t able to add to the main list.

Craterface

Future-Reference: A Trip To The Moon
   Episode: “The Series Has Landed,” and Into the Wild Green Yonder

In one of the more obscure science fiction references, Craterface pays tribute to the French 1902 silent film A Trip To The Moon, most famous for its image of the moon’s face being stuck in the eye with a rocket ship.

Or a beer bottle, in this case.

Alcazar’s Yithian Form

Future-Reference: H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out Of Time”      Episode: “A Bicyclops Built For Two”

Another very obscure reference that unless you know already, a viewer is likely to miss, is that of Alcazar’s alternate forms is that of a Yithian, or “Great Race of Yith” from H.P. Lovecraft’s short story from the Cthulhu mythos.

Ice-9

Future-Reference: Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle       Episode: “War Is The H-Word”

Easily one of my favorite references. Vonnegut’s amazing novel Cat’s Cradle is referenced with the ability to buy ice-9 and a six pack of beer in the future. (at a 7-11 as a matter of fact)

Jurassic Kiddie Park

Future-Reference: Jurassic Park      Episode: “I Dated A Robot”

Remember that phrase from all Jurassic Park movies? “Life will find a way.” Apparently it did find a way and that occurs sometime before 3000. But be careful feeding them at the kiddie park because they might bite your hands off.

 

Sandworm

Future-Reference: Dune        Episode: Into the Wild Green Yonder

Who wouldn’t want to use giant sand-worms from Dune as an above ground transportation tram?

Just stand clear of the closing jaws.

About Sarah Sommer

Sarah is a journalist and an artist who lives in the city. She loves movies and television. She reads early and often. Sarah also helps out over at BSCkids.com and our other sites!

2 Comments

  1. Emmm

    January 16, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Fine research! Thank you!But what about F. K. Dick?

  2. palealien

    March 17, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Somewhat more obscure, the Holophoner used in an episode or two seems to have been based on a very similar instrument created by Isaac Asimov in the “Foundation” series he called the “Visi-sonor”

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