During its nine-season run, the writers of Futurama dropped in as many pop culture references as humanly possible. The show was full of quips, jokes, and observations that related to everything from Doctor Who to obscure science fiction references. It didn't hurt that the writing room was filled with PhDs and sci-fi nerds.
While many of the pop culture references shown throughout the series are obvious, far more are considerably more obscure. You'll only understand a few of these pop culture references if you grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons, reading Isaac Asimov, and watching Space: 1999. Even if you did all of that, there are likely a few obscure references you missed along the way.
Find your favorite obscure pop culture reference below, and vote up the ones that are particularly clever. Check back to see which of Futurama's obscure pop culture references made it to the top of the list!
Reference: Fry's wolf-like movements and appearance somewhat mirror those of San.
Episode: 8, "Fun on a Bun"
Details: In "Fun on a Bun," Fry gets wonked on the noodle and trapped in ice, where he's rescued by a band of Neanderthals. Because his head is so banged up and he has lost his memories, they assume he's one of their own. In many ways, Fry's movements and behavior are reminiscent of San, the titular hero from Princess Mononoke, who is also called the "Wolf Girl."
Reference: Many of the most famous ships from science fiction make an appearance as derelict versions.
Episode: 21, "Möbius Dick"
Details: In "Möbius Dick," Leela undertakes an adventure that proves too perilous for the crew, and when they arrive at a spaceship graveyard, the Planet Express ship flies by a bunch of derelict crafts. The ships include vessels from other science fiction works and album covers, as well as a real lunar lander. The visible ships consist of the following:
- Discovery One (2001)
- Event Horizon (Event Horizon)
- Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 (Lost)
- The Satellite of Love (Mystery Science Theater 3000)
- The Jupiter 2 (Lost in Space)
- The spaceship from Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
- An Apollo Lunar Module
- Spaceships from the album covers of ELO, Journey, and Boston
Reference: There are numerous references throughout the series to Soylent food products.
Episode: 4, "Fry and the Slurm Factory"
Details: Soylent Green is a 1973 dystopian film starring Charlton Heston, who plays a detective who discovers something terrible going on in the massively overcrowded world he lives in. SPOILER: He discovers that the people who volunteer to end their lives end up being processed into a delicious ration the government has labeled Soylent Green. Hence, Soylent Green is people... it's people! In the episode, Leela tells Fry that there's a soda called Soylent Cola. When Fry asks her if it's any good, she replies, "It varies from person to person."
Reference: The Doctor from Doctor Who's fourth regeneration is seen entering a TARDIS with his iconic scarf.
Episode: 20, "All the Presidents' Heads"
Details: Doctor Who is the longest-running science fiction series of all time, and the main character has been referenced in tons of works, including Futurama. The fourth Doctor makes a brief appearance in "All the Presidents' Heads" when the crew screws up the timeline and sets history askew due to the failure of Paul Revere. This results in the British continuing to hold the Colonies in their sway, and the Doctor's appearance is an extension of that British influence on America. He can be seen exiting a bus for his TARDIS, which is odd, seeing as the TARDIS can travel anywhere in time and space.