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: This whole episode is an homage to Katey Sagal's work on Married... with Children.
Episode: 13, "A Bicyclops Built for Two"
Details: Katey Sagal provides the voice of Leela on Futurama, but from 1987 to 1997, she played Peggy Bundy on the hit series Married... with Children. The episode makes several references to the show, including her poofed-up hair, manner of walking, clothing, and the way she calls Alcazar "Al," which is also the name of Ed O'Neill's character on Married... with Children. Al is also reminiscent of his '80s namesake, from the way he sits on the couch (which is also taken from the show) to the way he speaks to Peggy... er, Leela.
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 series name is a reference to the 1939 World's Fair.
Details: The 1939 New York World's Fair was the second-most expensive event of its type, and it had more than 44 million visitors across its two seasons. The entire event was based on the future, and one of the centerpiece 36,000-square-foot halls held the Futurama exhibit, sponsored by General Motors. This included a massive diorama of a future version of the United States, which was built with miniature highways (modern highways didn't exist back then), towns with half a million individually designed homes, futuristic vehicles, and millions of trees. The whole affair was seen in the form of a ride with chairs situated overhead. Because it was essentially an exhibit of what the future United States might look like one day, the series name was applied as an homage.