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The Classic Sci-Fi Joke In Futurama That Fans Agree Is One Of The Best

"Futurama," the beloved animated comedy about a far-future world, has always found one of its biggest strengths in its ability to deliver jokes that strike the perfect balance of high and low-brow comedy. The show famously hired people with doctorates in STEM fields to its writing team to help develop some of its more heady and conceptual plots, including some of Professor Farnsworth's more elaborate inventions. Luckily, those smarts often trickle down into the dialog of the series as well. Indeed, plenty of off-the-cuff quips in "Futurama" are brainy enough to make viewers pause and think before laughing.

The animated sitcom is also full of references to the classic science fiction entertainment that it both honors and lampoons. For instance, multiple episodes have referenced "Star Trek." In fact, "Futurama" Season 4, Episode 11 ("Where No Fan Has Gone Before") reunites the bulk of the original "Star Trek" cast, including the vocal talents of original series alumni like William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and "Star Trek: The Next Generation" star Jonathan Frakes.

Needless to say, "Futurama" is never afraid to use a visual gag or a line of dialogue to toss off an allusion to some beloved bit of pop culture for a quick laugh. Like any other property that originates in the past ("Futurama" premiered in 1999), some jokes have aged better than others. However, the vast majority of the show's humor holds up surprisingly well all these years later, and there's one great "Futurama" zinger fans still agree hasn't lost any of its punch.

A dark Soylent Green reference has Futurama fans dying of laughter

In "Futurama" Season 2, Episode 4 ("Fry and the Slurm Factory"), Fry (Billy West) wins a tour of the factory that manufactures his favorite soda, Slurm. The trip begins as a parody of "Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory," but Fry and Leela (Katey Sagal) soon become determined to figure out the secret ingredient that makes Slurm so addictive. Rather unsurprisingly, the factory owner (also voiced by Billy West) seems determined to prevent them from discovering the secret. 

At one point, Fry begins to wonder whether the secret ingredient could actually be people. Leela replies that it can't be, since there's already a soda like that called Soylent Soda. "How is it?" Fry asks, and Leela replies, "It varies from person to person."

This joke references the 1973 dystopian movie "Soylent Green," in which the Earth is suffering from overpopulation and all of humanity's food supply comes from the Soylent Corporation. The film's gruesome twist comes when it is discovered that Soylent is not manufactured from plankton, as the company claims, but rather from human flesh.

Fans on Reddit seem to agree that Leela's clever cannibalism joke is peak "Futurama," with u/hughbiffingmock writing, "This will always be one of my favorite jokes from the original run. It's just perfection." Others say the punchline is lodged in their brains permanently. As u/ShermyTheCat put it, "I think about this joke probably once a week." For u/Krombopulos-Savage, one specific word seemed to link this one joke to the rest of the series: "Great joke, great reference, great show."