The Futurama universe predicts a future that is equally exciting and terrifying. You can live forever as a head in a jar; suicide is easier and quicker than ever thanks to roadside suicide booths; giant carrots take over the world for a little while. In six seasons the crew has traveled to the end of time and back, a couple times. In their universe, we know pretty much everything that has ever happened and ever will happen (That’s ignoring alternate timelines, but that’s way to nerdy and messy to get into right now).
Aside from just painting a picture of the future, Futurama offers answers to many questions of history and science. It turns out time travel and aliens have had a pretty big effect on the world. Here are 6 mysteries of the Earth, and the universe at large, as answered by Futurama.
The Construction of the Pyramids
How did the ancient Egyptians build the pyramids? And why? And why did they love cats SO much? The Futurama writers created their own answer. The Egyptians built the Pyramids and revered cats because they were forced to. By cats.
In “That Darn Katz” it’s discovered that in 3,500 B.C. Earth was invaded by an alien race of cats, so cute that they could bring humans to their knees. The cats came to Earth after the rotation of their own planet slowed and made the planet unlivable. The cat aliens brainwashed the Egyptians and forced them to build the Great Pyramids of Giza, not as a tomb — or whatever you may have been taught in middle school — but as a giant antenna to channel Earth’s rotational energy in order to return their own planet’s rotation back to normal. Weirder aliens have come to Earth with weirder plans on Futurama.
Eventually the cats became over-adjusted to being pampered by the Egyptians and got too fat and lazy to actually pull of their plan, so they all just sort of settled on Earth. But they did get pretty close to destroying the planet forever!
The Extinction of Dinosaurs
Here’s another historical mystery neatly explained by Futurama: The dinosaurs, according to the Futurama universe, weren’t killed by a volcano or meteor or whatever dumb, logical explanation you may have heard. It was giant brains. Seconds after the Big Bang, the Brain Spawn, a race of gigantic flying brains, came into existence. They immediately began destroying all sentient beings, which they hated for some reason. The Brain Spawn’s master plan was to gather all the knowledge of the universe, then destroy the universe forever.
In their visit to Earth 65.5 or so million years ago, they wiped out all the Dinosaurs in one quick swoop. Luckily, Fry was immune to the Brains’ attacks (the Brain Spawn have the ability to make humans really, really stupid) because he lacks “normal” human brainwaves, and he was able to prevent the Brains from destroying the universe. Unfortunately, we lost the Dinosaurs long before Fry was born. Fortunately, even though all prehistoric life was once killed by the Brain Spawn, in the future, Dinosaurs (both actual dinosaurs and robot dinosaurs) exist again somehow, so don’t worry.
The Brilliance of Leonardo DaVinci
Leonardo DaVinci may be considered one of the brightest minds in human history, but in the Futurama universe he’s actually a really stupid alien. The artist is originally from the planet Vinci, where he was one of the stupidest and most looked down upon people on the planet. He came to Earth during the 15th century to escape the ridicule from his home. Luckily, he was a genius compared to the average Earthling and established himself as one of the brightest “human” minds of all time.
After a while, though, DaVinci couldn’t stand to hang out with the stupid people of Earth any longer and returned to his home planet to continue living as an idiot amongst geniuses. DaVinci was still alive in the 30th century, and planned to use one of his lost inventions, a doomsday machine (it also makes ice cream), to kill off everyone on his home planet who tormented him for being so stupid. However, the doomsday/ice cream machine only actually killed a few people– one of them being DaVinci, himself.
The Incident at Roswell, New Mexico
By real-world standards what happened in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico is one of the most significant UFO incidents of all time. In the scope of the Futurama universe, it’s barely a big deal. So what was it that crashed at Roswell in 1947? The Planet Express crew, of course. In 3002 or so, Fry makes popcorn on the Planet Express ship, generating “blue radiation,” which collides with the radiation of a nearby star. This is some kind of formula for time travel, apparently, and so the Planet Express crew is sent back in time to 1947 and crash lands in Roswell.
The Planet Express crew’s trip to 1947 goes bad pretty quick. Bender is taken in by the army and studied as a UFO, Zoidberg is mistaken for an evil alien (instead of a lovable, harmless one), and of course, Fry has sex with his own grandmother, thus making him his own grandfather. The crew makes it back to the year 3000 safely, minus Bender, who is left behind and has to wait 1,000 years to be reunited with the crew.
The Disappearance of Many Ancient Treasures
Once again, Egyptians are the victim in the Futurama universe. In “Bender’s Big Score,” the first of the Futurama films, Bender discovers the key to time travel– on Fry’s ass of all places. The “time code” allows Bender to travel freely through time. Nibbler warns this particular method of time travel (there seem to be plenty of different ways to travel through time on Futurama) can have devastating side effects on space and time and could potentially destroy the universe (which it does, partially).
Bender, of course, puts the time code to good use, anyway. He navigates back through time and visits early Earthican civilizations, not to witness them in person but rather to steal as many historical treasures as possible. Bender’s trip is a tremendous success. Among other things, Bender snatches the treasures of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III. The only consequence of Bender’s time travel was a gigantic rift in time and space, but that all worked out fine in the end.
The Creation of Life
And, finally, there’s biggest mystery of all: where did we come from? The Futurama writers take a predictably scientific approach to explaining the very beginnings of life. In the Futurama universe, the Big Bang is fact. Bender, Fry and Professor Farnsworth even witness it happen for themselves in “The Late Philip J. Fry.” After the Big Bang, the Futurama writers veer away from existing explanations and get creative.
Eons ago, a swirling green wave of light known as Chi (see below) formed in the Black Dwarf system. Chi had the power to create life and began doing so on Earth. For a little while, at least. Eventually, for reasons unknown, the Chi receded and from then on, it was survival of the fittest. Only the strongest lifeforms such as humans survived. Meanwhile, on a distant planet, a snakelike creature and a froglike creature competed in the “evolutionary arms race.” The evolutionary war was won by the snakelike creature, which eventually evolved into an evil and powerful race of beings known as The Dark Ones. While the Dark Ones roamed the universe destroying all other life, the lesser species (the Encyclopods) did their best to put an end to the Dark Ones and save other lifeforms from being destroyed.
Finally, in 3009 with the help of Fry (and The Number Nine Man), the Dark Ones were finally defeated. The course of life as explained by the Futurama universe: The Big Bang gives birth to the universe. Chi gives birth to life and the world as we know it. Fry saves it, again.