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The Small Detail That Fans Of Futurama Love

The beloved sci-fi comedy animated sitcom "Futurama" has become an enduring staple of adult TV animation. The series follows Philip J. Fry (Billy West), a pizza delivery boy who is accidentally cryogenically frozen in 1999 and awakens in the year 3000. From there, we follow the misadventures of Fry and his exploits with a planetary delivery crew. Running off and on various networks between 1999 and 2013, as well as a 2023 revival, the show would go on to receive six Primetime Emmy Awards among numerous other accolades (via IMDb).

As can be expected from Matt Groening, the same mind behind "The Simpsons," "Futurama" proved not only immensely funny on a surface level, but even funnier on a more laser-focused level. The series contains numerous background details and Easter eggs that add new layers of comedy to an already gut-busting premise. Thoughts about one scene, in particular, continue to prompt "Futurama" fans everywhere to jump into yet another rewatch of the series.

This math joke that's so complicated and simple

In "Futurama" Season 6, Episode 5 ("The Duh Vinci Code"), the crew goes on the hunt for a mysterious Leonardo da Vinci invention after Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) comes across some special blueprints. At one point in the episode, the crew travels to Rome to find the body of St. James, who they believe to be a robot after scanning da Vinci's "Last Supper." Upon their arrival, Farnsworth, Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) explore a series of caskets trying to find St. James'. Farnsworth comes across one that has an equation of roman numerals on its side. He takes out a copy of "The Da Vinci Code" and reasons that the roman numerals will equate to how many steps they need to take. They all take exactly one step forward and get to St. James' casket immediately.

While the moment might just seem like a comical means of diverting our expectations, fans who have picked apart the brief scene know that there is actually more to the joke. A thread started by Redditor u/ThatsSomeDopeCheese shows a few screenshots of the scene. Beneath these screenshots, the user shows a calculator that has the roman numerals typed out as normal numbers. It turns out that when the equation, which translates to (2^11) – (23*89), is solved, it does indeed equate to one. Don't believe it? Take your phone out and do it on your calculator right now. We'll wait.

Fans know there's more to this scene than meets the eye

Users responding to the aforementioned thread couldn't contain their amusement when they deciphered the joke. Notably, u/Totsnotbritneyspears commented on Farnsworth's superior intellect, writing, "[It] took him roughly the same amount of time to calculate the number as it did to take the step."

Many of the users also made mention of the fact that many of the "Futurama" writers actually have more knowledge on the subject than one might think. U/My_Ex_Got_Fat wrote, "They have dudes with PHDs in physics and mathematics on their writing team, def not surprising." A now-deleted user went on to say, "Well, it's not surprising considering that David X. Cohen [is] a nerd. A show created by a nerd for nerds." Indeed, a lot of the crew working on the show have science and math PhDs that grant the often scientifically focused series a level of credibility in its world-building while also making room for plenty of background jokes such as this.

Even if the joke flies over your head, u/Redtoasti explained why it works so well for anyone. They write, "It's more about the subtlety of it. It's one thing to know how something works, but an entirely different thing to apply it on a day to day basis. Yes, this little term isn't very complicated in [and] of itself, but yet you wouldn't have seen it from any other cartoonist team." It's moments like this that will continue to prove the love and effort it takes to craft "Futurama" into the iconic series it is.