Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason Futurama Had Owl Exterminators

Despite its cancellation in September of 2013, Matt Groening's Futurama remains a cult classic. Fans across the globe still praise the show's clever dialogue, its colorful cast of characters, and the world — or rather, worlds — that the Planet Express crew inhabited, because while many cartoons create a fictional history to flesh out their timeline, Futurama as always known for going a step further. One of the program's hallmarks is its ability to take modern societal staples, and reshape them in a futuristic context, taking on everything from fast food crazes to popular amusement parks. Among the series creators' most clever additions were their interpretation of owls, which is quite different than those found in the real world.

In current times, owls are cute and a welcome sight in the wild, as their place in the environment is very important. However, this couldn't be further from the case in Futurama, as indicated by the presence of the exterminators tasked with keeping them out of people's hair in urban centers. There's actually a very interesting history between them and their flying adversaries that makes sense of this background conflict.

Owls are pests in the Futurama universe

Though rarely at the forefront of Futurama's stories, owls are everywhere in 31st century New New York, just as rats and pigeons were in cities of the distant past. They're looked upon as a nuisance by most, and require some form of control and removal, hence the owl exterminators. Although this detail is incredibly insignificant, Futurama goes out of its way to explain why the owls are such a societal problem in the show's time — speaking volumes about the creators' commitment to their world-building.

The story goes that sometime before the events of Futurama, those in charge of New York City realized their rodent problem wasn't going to go away on its own. To counter the growing rat population, owls were introduced to the ecosystem, in an attempt to level these numbers off instead of allocating resources to large-scale extermination efforts. It worked, at first. Soon enough, though,  the plan backfired when owls began multiplying and eventually overtook their prey as the city's number one pest. 

Once again attempting to correct their course, NYC became a hotbed for the owl extermination business, which is a very lucrative line of work in the Futurama universe.