A Clockwork Origin

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Season 6 episode
Broadcast season 7 episode
A Clockwork Origin
Human Evolution.png
Professor Farnsworth and Dr. Banjo arguing about the human evolution.
Production number6ACV09
Written byDan Vebber
Directed byDwayne Carey-Hill
Title captionThis time, it's personal
First air date12 August, 2010
Broadcast numberS07E09
Title referenceA Clockwork Orange


Season 6
  1. Rebirth
  2. In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela
  3. Attack of the Killer App
  4. Proposition Infinity
  5. The Duh-Vinci Code
  6. Lethal Inspection
  7. The Late Philip J. Fry
  8. That Darn Katz!
  9. A Clockwork Origin
  10. The Prisoner of Benda
  11. Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences
  12. The Mutants Are Revolting
  13. The Futurama Holiday Spectacular
  14. The Silence of the Clamps
  15. Möbius Dick
  16. Law and Oracle
  17. Benderama
  18. The Tip of the Zoidberg
  19. Ghost in the Machines
  20. Neutopia
  21. Yo Leela Leela
  22. Fry Am the Egg Man
  23. All the Presidents' Heads
  24. Cold Warriors
  25. Overclockwise
  26. Reincarnation
← Season 5Season 7 →

"A Clockwork Origin" is the ninety-seventh episode of Futurama, the ninth of the sixth production season and the ninth of the seventh broadcast season. It aired on 12 August, 2010, on Comedy Central. Professor Farnsworth, fed up with Creationists in New New York, moves to a planetoid to escape the ignorance of humanity, only to inadvertently create mechanical life which evolved from small robots designed to clean tainted water on the rock. The crew goes with him, but leaves Zoidberg and Cubert on Earth.

The Story

The Professor travels to Wozniak Nerd Academy, where evolution is being questioned.

Act I: "I don't want to live on this planet anymore."

Professor Farnsworth finds out that his clone Cubert was unable to go to school due to the large mob of Creationist protesters outside. Outraged, he quickly takes the Planet Express Ship to Cubert's school, the Wozniak Nerd Academy. Once there, the Professor gets into a huge argument with the protesters and meets a talking orangutan called Dr. Banjo. The doctor claims that if evolution was possible, then there wouldn't be a "missing link," in the chain between the Great Apes and Homo Sapiens. The Professor aims to prove him wrong and has the crew fly to Olduvai Gorge in Africa to find the missing missing link. While in the gorge, Farnsworth finally finds the fossilized skull of a previous unknown hominid that fills in the gap. He names it Homo farnsworth (which is a misnomer, since the hominid was too far back in the chain to actually be from the genus Homo), and takes it back to display at a museum. However, at the museum, Dr. Banjo returns and convinces the patrons that the Homo Farnsworth actually disproves evolution. Upset at everybody's ignorance, he makes the crew (except Zoidberg who stayed on Earth to take care of Cubert) drop him off at a lifeless planetoid where he will spend the rest of his days with only an inflatable shack, four grand pianos, and some pizza. He pours some Nanobots he invented into a nearby pond to eat up all the toxic minerals and give him a fresh source of water. However, before the crew could leave, the nanobots evolve into land mobile Trilobots, which eat the entire Planet Express Ship, thus trapping all of them on the planetoid.

On the Robo-Planetoid, a micro-evolution sets off.

Act II: "Look out for the next thing!"

The crew run into a nearby cave to hide from the matter-eating Trilobots. Having no edible pizza (due to all the pizzas having pineapple on them), the only food they have left is some dehydrated steak that the Professor brought, but they need water. The crew run out of the cave to get to the pond, only to find that the Trilobots have gone and a huge robotic jungle is now growing. They eat some steak, but are then attacked by Robotic versions of Plesiosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, which the Trilobots evolved into, but a Tricycletops saves the crew. Fry is dragged off by a robotic pterodactyl, while the rest are ambushed by a robotic Dimetrodon and the same robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex. However, they are all saved by a magnetic solar flare, which destroys all the robot dinosaurs, but was harmless to any biological beings, as well as smaller robots, hiding in caves, such as Bender. The Professor manages to build a new spaceship out of the parts of the dinosaurs, but they must wait to the next day to use it since it is solar powered. However, Leela and Amy are kidnapped by Robo-Cavemen. Meanwhile on Earth, Zoidberg is trying to take over as a father figure for Cubert, but is constantly put down by him. Cubert feels bad about this, so he goes to Zoidberg's dumpster and apologizes, saying that he makes fun of people because he is always getting picked on by bullies. Brett Blob shows up and threatens to beat the two of them up, but Zoidberg protects them by pretending to be as pathetic as possible. In doing so, he gains Cubert's respect.

Ascent of Bot.png

Act III: "You're under arrest for crimes against science."

The next morning on the planetoid, the crew wake up to discover that Leela and Amy have been captured by robo-cavemen and forced to be their wives. Professor Farnsworth is able to make a slingshot but because it took him twelve hours to do so, they must spend another night on the planetoid before they can rescue the women. However, once they get up, they find that Amy and Leela were already free of their own means and that the cavemen dissappeared. They then meet a fully evolved, sentient, humanlike robot named Dr. Widnar who discovers them as the first carbon-based lifeforms that their society has ever seen. She takes to their Museum of Natural Robo-History, where the Professor gives a speech. However, when he reveals that he invented the nanobots in the first place, he is arrested for speaking against evolution and believing in creationism, and is put to a trial. At the trial in the Superior Gort, Bender replaces Leela as Farnsworth's lawyer and claims that Farnsworth is innocent by terms of insanity. It then all comes down to the jury's opinion, which they wouldn't have decided until the next day. The crew are forced to sleep in the Gort. The next day, the crew discovers that all the robots have further evolved into highly intelligent Robotic gas forms. The gas forms believe that all physical lifeforms are yokels compared to them and that the trial they had was pointless in the grand scheme of things. They allow them to leave the planetoid. Once they return to Earth on the ship made of dinosaur parts, Farnsworth talks to Dr. Banjo and show him holographic pictures he took of the evolution on the planetoid, to prove that it is possible for small lifeforms to evolve into more complex ones. Dr. Banjo counters in saying that evolution on the planetoid was in fact put into action by an intelligent creator: Professor Farnsworth. In the end, they compromise on the fact that both their theories are feasible.


The idea for the episode originated at the time around the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, the scientist who proposed the theory of evolution. At the time, Kirk Cameron, a creationist and evolution denier, was releasing altered versions of Darwin's book On the Origin of Species, containing false information on Darwin and his theory in a new introduction, and having removed several key chapters of the book. Dan Vebber decided to write "A Clockwork Origin" to "undo all the damage [he] did".[1]


In its original American broadcast, "A Clockwork Origin" was viewed by an estimated 1.926 million households nearly identical to "That Darn Katz!" [2]

Additional Info


  • We learn that Zoidberg is Cubert's godfather.
  • Professor Farnsworth's line, "I don't want to live on this planet anymore", has become a popular Internet meme, often used to show disappointment or disgust in others.
  • Cubert wears red oven gloves in the final scene, presumably to mimic Zoidberg's claws.
  • Professor Farnsworth indicates that his father wasn't actually his biological father. However, this does not help identify whether it is his mother or the milkman who is the descendant of Yancy. However, as it is later revealed in the episode "Near-Death Wish", Professor Farnsworth has a brother (Floyd Farnsworth) so it is possible that the milkman may be his brother's biological father instead.
  • The slogans on the human protesters' signs are:
  • The slogans on the robot protesters' signs are
    • "Evolution = True"
    • "Creationism" a la the Flying Spaghetti Monster's sign
    • "Creationist go home!"
    • "I believe in science"
    • "Create this!"
  • Professor Farnsworth's medicated steak dinner ratio is 4mg of steak per 1mg of fixin's.
  • Unlike other robot groups all the citizens of the planet retain the same basic physiological form, having common ancestors.
    • Hinged mouths is a robot feature seen only rarely outside the robot planetoid. Malfunctioning Eddie and the Robot Devil being the only significance examples of this.
  • "Free Will Hunting", which is also the ninth episode of its season, has a philosophical theme as well.
  • Bender says "robots do everything faster. Including evolving... and believing how quickly things spring up". In "Love and Rocket", which was also written by Dan Vebber, he says "with my mighty robot powers, I can get sick of things much quicker than you humans".
  • When the crew first discovers the robotic dinosaurs, the plesiosaur's roar is the same as Godzilla's and the T. rex's is the same as that of the T. rex from the Jurassic Park series.


  • The title of the episode is a reference to the Anthony Burgess book A Clockwork Orange, and the Stanley Kubrick film based upon it. Burgess had stated that the title came from "orang", which is Malay for "man".
  • The image of the 'missing link' riding a dinosaur is likely a reference to the famous 'Ica stones'. The images, which involve people interacting with dinosaurs, were used by some creationists as proof that Earth history occurred over a much shorter timespan than the science seems to suggest. They are widely regarded as a hoax.
  • The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a reference to the god of the Pastafarians. This is a double joke because the FSM and Pastafarianism started with a letter to the Kansas School Board parodying the idea of creationism being taught in schools.
  • Before finding the elusive missing missing link in the 'rich vein of missing links', the Professor finds Java Man (fossils of Homo erectus erectus), Piltdown Man (an anthropological hoax) and Manfred Mann (a musician). Only the first was actually a missing link, but it wasn't found in the Olduvai Gorge.
  • When Bender makes a "robot" from a bedspring with googly eyes to try to prove robot evolution, the sign says "I Hate Mondays," a reference to Garfield.
  • Fry says the Professor's water supply looks like diet Dr. Pepper, a 21st century soft drink.
  • Cubert tells Zoidberg he's "some kind of dumpster Jedi", after Zoidberg has showed him how to fend off bullies. This is a reference to the Jedi monastic organisation, from Star Wars.
  • The "NANDerthal Cave Painting" exhibit at the robot museum is a pun on the Neanderthal, an extinct hominid, and a NAND gate, a basic electronic logic gate.
  • The "Ascent of Bot" displayed in the robot museum includes an R2 unit, from Star Wars.
  • The iFad is a reference to Apple's iPad.
  • USB Today is a reference to USA Today. USB is a reference to the USB ports for computers. It is also the current USB logo in the heading of the paper.
  • The Superior Gort is a play on words, being a reference to both the Supreme Court and Gort, a robot in the science-fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still. Gort was designed as part of an interstellar police force created to maintain peace in the universe.
  • Fry's fan dance is a reference to Cdr. Uhura's fan dance in Star Trek.
  • Dr. Widnar's name is an anagram of "Darwin", a reference to Charles Darwin, who proposed the theory of evolution.
  • Much of the trial is a reference to the 1960 film Inherit the Wind. For example, Bender's suspenders are a reference to those of protagonist Spencer Tracy.
  • The idea of a manmade society evolving rapidly (eventually beyond current humanity) was explored in "The Genesis Tub", which borrowed from a Twilight Zone episode.
  • The way the crew's clothes are ripped references One Million Years B.C..
  • The evolution of nanomachines may have been inspired by prior science fiction:
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Evolution" (1989), Wesley Crusher creates nanobots called "nanites" which unexpectedly evolve to the point of sentience; initially, an astrophysicist on board expresses skepticism concerning the possibility for machines to evolve.
    • In the 2002 novel Prey, by Michael Crichton, nanobots evolve to other organisms in a short time. Whenever humans attempt to attack them, the robots have already evolved.
  • The evolution of the robots ends in a higher plane of existence which consists of pure energy is taken from Childhood's End.
  • The way Amy's clothes got ripped was a reference to Fantastic Voyage where Cora's clothes were ripped in the same fashion.
    • With that, Amy's clothes looked like a bikini.
  • The Steak Dinner pills are made by Bristol-Myers Squibb, a bio-pharmaceutical company.
  • One of the robots looks similar to Ms. Hoover from The Simpsons.
  • Farnsworth and Banjo's dismissal of Bender's idea of a robot Creator God is a reference to Bender having met a computerised God in "Godfellas".


    Farnsworth: As a scientist, I can assure you that we did in fact evolve from filthy monkey-men.

    [The Trilobots cannibalize the ship while the crew look on in shock.]
    Leela: Oh, no! My sunglasses were in there!

    Bender: [He walks up to the Professor, wearing an under-sized Tuxedo.] Hmm, my tux doesn't fit. Probably because I've grown so much since I last wore it, or evolved, one might say.
    Farnsworth: One might not say that! Your tux doesn't fit because you stole it from a boy!
    Bender: You mean a man! It was his Bar Mitzvah.

    [The robo-cavemen grunt at them and drop a broom in front of Amy and Leela.]
    Amy: I think they want wives, so just play along. If it doesn't work out, we'll still get half their rocks.
    Leela: I can earn my own rocks! Also, I don't want any rocks!



Bender is seen twice in the same frame
  • The "missing missing link", Homo farnsworth, fills the gap between "apes" and the Darwinius masillae, and would not fall under the genus Homo, which appeared much later.
    • While true, this isn't really a goof and more of an intentional joke. Homo Farnsworth is much funnier than Darwinius Farnsworth.
  • Recent anthropological research suggests that Homo habilis actually wasn't an ancestor of modern man, and instead is part of a sister group. Its place in the family tree is taken by Homo ergaster.
  • In the courtroom, when Bender tells the jury to find the Professor not guilty by reason of insanity, Bender can be seen twice when the court gasps. He can be seen both near the jury and between Fry and Leela.
    • When viewing the included picture in the context of the episode, namely while Bender is addressing the judge, it is very clear that the background and foreground were re-used, but they forgot to remove Bender from behind the defense table.
  • Despite what was established in the preceding episode, "That Darn Katz!", the Earth appears to be turning in the right direction again when the Planet Express Ship goes to the Wozniak Nerd Academy. See this for more information.
  • Since the Professor watched the Universe be created twice, he was there as animals started to evolve and become primates to humans, etc. Granted the forward-only time machine didn't seem to have recording devices, but the Professor neglects to mention to the protesters that he, along with Fry and Bender, observed evolution firsthand.
    • Although this could also just be because he has a very poor memory.
  • It's possible for the Professor to come with strong evidence of human evolution. To do so, he has to use his forward time machine from "The Late Philip J. Fry" to travel to the year 50 million. There, he can use the backwards time machine from the women of that era to go back in time when humans evolved from primates and record this.
    • Considering everything that went wrong, he probably didn't want to risk time travel again.
    • It may have not happened in that chronological order.
  • When trying to bond with Cubert, Dr. Zoidberg says that he boiled up a couple of baseball gloves for lunch. But in "Fear of a Bot Planet", Leela claimed that baseball was "as boring as mom and apple pie" and jazzed up with blernsball.
    • Maybe the only use for baseball equipment is food.
    • Or maybe he likes baseball and "normal" people (like Leela) think it's boring like how today not too many people like math and physics and it's considered boring by "normal" people.
  • When the trilobots try to get into the cave after the stone blocks their entrance, it seems like the stone doesn't block the entrance, as the trilobots just continue on and do not pile up when they reach the stone.
    • The scene cuts away just as the trilobot swarm reaches the boulder.
  • When the massive solar flare kills the robot dinosaurs, Fry can be seen falling with the robot pterodactyl, he even hits the ground right before the pterodactyl explodes. But when the fireball from the explosion goes away, Fry disappears from the wreckage and falls from the sky again.
  • After the solar flare, when Bender emerges from the cave, he states that he taught himself to knit, but in "The Route of All Evil" he can be seen knitting while fermenting.
  • Hermes is seen drinking coffee out of a skull that looks like a robot human skull. But mammal like creatures, neanderthal humans included, just evolved that night. There wouldn't have been any fossil evidence of robot humans yet.
    • Farnsworth did mention that only smaller mammal-like robots hiding in caves would have survived. The robot skull is small enough that it could be from a robot primate and not a robot caveman/human.
  • Professor Banjo's, inadvertent, joke playing on the self evident truth of evolution "Gravity is just a theory, like Gravity or the shape of the earth" is ironically false. The theory of universal gravitation is actually just a simplified model which was superseded by the theory of relativity, hence the that logic evolution isn't prima facie true.


(In alphabetic order)


  1. ^ DVD commentary.
  2. ^ [1]