Thursday, August 4, 2011

Futurama: The Dung Beetle Phenomenon

"What's with the 17 dung beetles?" Fry asks in this season's episode All The Presidents' Heads.  Due to apparently popular demand, I have decided to dedicate this post in an attempt to de-mystify the Dung Beetle Phenomenon.  What is the Dung Beetle Phenomenon?... Well, you see i've got word from Google that the phrase "futurama 17 dung beetles" has brought flocks of viewers onto my blog. Thank you for visiting by the way.  Amazed, I looked into the Dung Beetle Phenomenon (DBP) myself and did some of my own research and analysis: 

What is a dung beetle? According to Wikipedia, in Ancient Egypt Mythology, dung beetles (known as "scarabs") were linked to Khepri, the Sun "God".  And i quote:

"The ancients believed that the dung beetle was only male in gender, and reproduced by depositing semen into a dung ball. The supposed self-creation of the beetle resembles that of Khepri, who creates himself out of nothing. Moreover, the dung ball rolled by a dung beetle resembles the sun."

...Yeah. So back to Futurama.  Thanks to the comments section below, we have figured out that Fry in "Roswell that Ends Well" is also a supposed self-creation (like Khepri), being his own Grand Pa and all.  The dung beetles or scarabs perhaps make a reference to that quality of his.  See also Season 1, episode 7 "My Three Suns" where Fry became the emperor of Trisol, the planet of the three suns.  In essence, Fry was a Sun "God", just like Khepri... profound! The dung beetles in Professor Farnsworth's family tree were in fact refer to Fry's pseudo-divinity.  Why were there seventeen dung beetles? Could it be that Fry is 17 generations away from Professor Farnsworth???  Let's find out.  If you take the time difference from Fry's origin and divide it by 17 (minus the Professor's age) it looks something like this:
Fry as Emperor of Trisol

3000 yrs - 2000 yrs = 1000 years - 170 years = 830 years (divided 17 beetles) =
48.823 yr/beetles

This doesn't make any sense. I'll be honest, i don't know where i'm going with this.  If any of you want to turn this into a meme or continue with this goofy analysis be my guest. My initial intention was just to post some pics of the scene and give some of my thoughts.  See the full size image below. Can YOU count the dung beetles? Turns out there are indeed seventeen of them! If you have ANY idea why all of you are so interested in searching for these dung beetles, please let me know in the comments section below.

UPDATE: Thanks to an anonymous follower and Javoec (see comment section below) we have figured out the answer to Fry's question: Like Khepri, Fry was also supposedly a self creation, he being his own Granpda and all ("Roswell that Ends Well").  The dung beetle correlation fits perfectly in this context. What's with the 17 dung beetles?  Season 1, Episode 7 or S01E07, that is 1-7 or 17, the number of beetles that fell on Fry's head. The irony of the dung beetles falling on Fry's head is actually ironic because it points to Fry's greatness as a previous Emperor ^_^. 

22 comments:

  1. So what happened to the idea that 17 is season 1 episode 7?

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  2. You figured it out! Thank you!!!!! Ding Ding Ding! I wonder what the writer of the episode has to say about this :) Is that you Josh? ^_^ ??

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  3. It seems that 17 is an important mathematical number: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/17_(number)

    According to Wikipedia: "17 is the first number that can be written as the sum of a positive cube and a positive square in two different ways; that is, the smallest n such that x3 + y2 = n has two different solutions for x and y positive integers"

    "17 is known as the Feller number, after the famous mathematician William Feller who taught at Princeton University for many years."

    Perhaps it is a mathematical joke or reference. I don't think 17 = to 01acv07 because is not scientific enough for the guys that write Futurama.

    About the dung beetles, at Wikipedia it says: "The supposed self-creation of the beetle resembles that of Khepri, who creates himself out of nothing"
    It could be a reference to Fry since he created himself in episode "Roswell that Ends Well"

    It could be anything really... like the binary number from Bender's Big Score that was just a sequence from 1 to 6 (in BIN) that was mirrored so it can be read with a mirror by Fry

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    1. Are you serious? 17 is no more important than any other random arbitrary number. Wikipedia has an article like that for almost every single number on the number line. And the only theory you dismiss about the 17 referring to the episode number is the only one proposed on this ridiculous thread of bullshit that even comes close to a coherent, plausible theory.

      Personally, I think it makes the most sense (albeit still kind of lame for the writers of Futurama, from whom I expect more) that it is just a random number, but they were trying to show that Fry is a rain-man-like savant by knowing exactly how many instantly as a jab at the professor calling him an idiot. Like you.

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  4. It seems to me that the insinuation is that Fry is an idiot savant, like the Dustin Hoffman/Rain Man character.

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    1. this is exactly what I was thinking

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    2. Agreed. I think they're implying that he has some form of aspergers.

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  5. Thanks for all the insightful comments! Javoec, I prescribe to your connection that Fry is his own GrandPa, in that way he is very much like a scarab. You guys rock. Thanks for helping me figure this out everyone, really ;)

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  6. Well, I can not say I'm 100% sure of all that, it could be a coincidence.

    Also, according to Futurama, "3acv17 - A Pharaoh to Remember".. so, it is the 17 episode of Production Season 3, and is the episode based on ancient Egypt. I saw the episode but there's nothing about beetles or 17..

    What I mean is that we could find many explanations for those, maybe one is true, and the others don't... but is difficult to say that that's the one..

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  7. What about in the "Luck of the Fryish" episode where Fry has a four-leaf clover (or was that Yancy?) The clover has the obvious connection to St. Patricks Day (March 17th)

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    1. It's a 7 leaf clover too

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    2. The seven leaves are in reference to the 7 core members of Planet Express. Fry, Leela, Bender, The Professor, Hermes, Amy, and Zoidberg. The only one not included is Scruffy. Right after the scene were Fry finds the clover, it fades back to the present and I randomly happened to pause it just right to see the clover transposed over the crew at the table. There was a leaf over each member there.

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  8. That's another good lead Shawn, will hafto
    Rewatch that episode again (for the 100th time) ;) Reference is still kinda vague, but this whole thing is, isn't it ;))

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  9. hermes said something about ,,its 6 o'clock"

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  10. They travel to april 17th 1775 later on in the episode

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  11. I also thought it could be that Fry is like some sort of Rainman. Like, he's extremely stupid, but when it comes to math he's a genius? Idk, just a thought.

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  12. It's funny you're focusing on the 17 dung beetles. I only became interested (and inadvertantly discovered this page) when Bender smashed one of them, and there were 16 dung beetles. I figured 16 must be the significant number.

    @Anonymous: Hermes said it's 7 o'clock, they'll deliver the heart tomorrow. Funny but unrelated.

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    1. Re-watch it. He says 6 o'clock, retard.

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  13. I think it goes deeper, I watch futurama non stop and there there is a few episodes where they unexplainabley say a specific number for no apparent reason

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  14. What is the signification of bender smashing one dung beetle?

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  16. hate to revive this, but fry is the *30 uncle and the *32 grandfather of the professor right? I believe that showing that small spark of intelligence is a hint at fry being the first in that bloodline to show the hyper intelligence that the professor and qubert have. IDK, I'm not a huge futurama buff. just my two cents.

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Comments welcome.