The Day the Earth Stood Stupid
|Navigation in production order
|Season 3 episode
|The Day the Earth Stood Stupid
|80% Entertainment by volume
|First air date
|18 February, 2001
|The Day the Earth Stood Still
|Art for Art's Sake (1934)
"The Day the Earth Stood Stupid" is the thirty-ninth episode of Futurama, the seventh of the third production season and the seventh of the third broadcast season. It aired on 18 February, 2001, on Fox. A mystic fleet of brains travels the universe, draining people's intelligence along the way. However, Fry may hold the key to defeating them.
Act I: "All glory to the Hypnotoad!"
Meanwhile, on Earth, Leela enters Nibbler in a pet competition. She hopes to win since she put Nibbler through strict training, but it is apparent she has just been spoiling him because his half-hearted attempts are so adorable. After learning the prize is five hundred dollars and a year's supply of dogfood, Bender and Zoidberg decide to enter themselves. During the sheep-herding competition, the Hypnotoad displays his amazing abilities (both on the sheep and the judges). On Nibbler's attempt, he simply devours the sheep.
Bender enters Zoidberg into the contest, claiming him to be a "Hard-Shelled Whooping Terrier". Bender forces Zoidberg through the obstacle course, then through a talent competition, by whipping him. Leela tries to get Nibbler to perform, but is unable. Nibbler sees a pig-shaped balloon and attacks. The balloon pops and launches Nibbler high into the air, after which he lands in a bowl of milk, splashing people with the milk and causing them to be attacked by dozens of cats.
Bender and Zoidberg get second place, losing to the Hypnotoad, whose win was most likely illegitimate (though no-one notices, thanks to its powers). Leela and Nibbler are awarded "Dumbest Pet in Show".
Act II: "I guess I'll have to eat this raw, dripping ham by myself!"
Back at Planet Express, Leela accepts that Nibbler may be dumb, but Fry sticks up for him. The Professor enters with "good news" about the destruction of Tweenis 12. Hermes points out that there have been a string of such planetary destructions, and Fry (with the help of Leela) points out that Earth is next. Nibbler gets anxious and runs away.
Leela attempts to track him down in an alley, luring him with a ham. She encounters a dumpster emitting an ominous light from within. As Leela cautiously approaches, a giant floating brain emerges. Leela is chased through the alleys by several brains, where she sees Nibbler donned in a mysterious body suit and pulling a small spacecraft from a shed. He takes off and waves goodbye, but Leela begs for him to come back as she tries to hold off the floating brains. Nibbler decides to return to Leela, and she jumps into the extremely cramped little ship where they escape.
Act III: "I thought you were a furry little moron!"
The floating brains continue their attack on the Earth, engulfing entire buildings in a blue glow, including the Planet Express building. Bender is concerned that his heart has stopped beating and that his skin is hard and clanky, but Fry points out that he doesn't have a heart and that he's made of metal. The Professor and Zoidberg are acting equally stupid.
Nibbler and Leela are flying through space, and Nibbler transmits his thoughts directly to Leela's brain to communicate. Nibbler explains the situation to Leela, and informs her that they're going to his home planet. Then he tells her how the universe began, and Leela realizes that every religion is wrong.
Hermes is standing with his mouth open in the shower. Fry turns on the news and finds that the news anchors are acting stupid as well. The PE crew then expresses a desire to play the lottery, buy internet stock (on margin), and join the Reform Party. Fry finally understands that they aren't just acting strange, but have indeed become idiots.
Nibbler and Leela finally arrive on Planet Eternium, at the exact center of the universe, and land at the Hall of Eternity, which is ten miles west of the exact center of the universe. After this point, we hear Nibbler speak not in mindless garbled chattering, but with a deep and dignified voice in English. Other creatures that look like Nibbler are waiting inside, and greet Nibbler as "Lord Nibbler, Ambassador to Earth". However Nibbler points out that the name "Lord Nibbler" is for Leela's sake. His own name would be impossible (and time-consuming) to pronounce. One millisecond after the universe was created, a terrible enemy known as the Brain Spawn came into existence. This explanation is interrupted by "the Feast of a Thousand Hams."
Nibbler explains that the Brain Spawn are attacking all intelligent life, as they hate all consciousness; the thoughts of others are unpleasant to them. They travel from world to world, making everyone stupid to wipe out all thought in the universe. Nibbler then indicates that Fry is the hope of the universe, as he is immune to the Brain Spawn's attack. Fry, meanwhile, tries to help the people of New New York, but foils himself because though he is smarter than everyone else on Earth at this point, he is still pretty stupid...
Act IV: "Time to re-educate you duncebags!"
The Nibblonian fleet approaches Earth. It is explained why Fry is immune to the Brain Spawn's attack: Fry's immunity is due to his lack of the Delta brainwave, due to other events which have not happened yet. Leela is sent to instruct Fry to locate and attack the Big Brain, but she cannot be trusted to complete this task, since she'll be affected by the Brain Spawn's stupifaction rays once she lands on Earth. The Nibblonians pin a note to Leela's shirt and send her off.
Fry is attempting to re-educate the PE crew, but even George Washington's head forgets who was the first president of the United States. Leela suddenly crashes through the window, and attempts to communicate with Fry, but she's been turned dumb. She hands him the note, but he misunderstands and blows his nose on it. Then he throws it in the fire, and Leela tries to retrieve it, only to discover that fire is hot. The Professor confirms her conclusion by setting his arm on fire, forcing Fry to use Chester A. Arthur's head to put it out. Fortunately, Leela still vaguely remembers what she's supposed to tell Fry and she tries again to communicate, pointing out the flying brains outside the window. Leela tells Fry to find the biggest brain, and Fry concludes that he might find it at the library.
Fry and Leela run to the New New York Public Library, and Fry confronts the Big Brain in the Ancient Literature room, where it is absorbing the knowledge of the human race. The Big Brain attempts to stupefy Fry, only to find him immune. Fry throws a book at the it, but the Big Brain is impervious to physical attack. Fry tries to think of another plan, and finds that his thoughts cause pain for the Big Brain. Fry frantically searches through a pile of books to find a book to make himself think. He reads the book, which causes the smaller brains outside to fall from the air. The Nibblonians prepare to land in order to clean up the mess.
The Big Brain then uses his abilities to take Fry and Leela into the world of Moby Dick. Fry almost attacks the Big Brain, but Queequeg stops him, on the grounds that it's not a white whale, but a grey thinky whale. The Big Brain escapes, and Fry, Leela, Queequeg, and Captain Ahab follow. They end up in Tom Sawyer, where they meet the eponymous character, who has tricked the Big Brain into whitewashing the fence. The Big Brain tries again to escape, and pulls everyone into Pride and Prejudice. Fry throws Tom Sawyer's whitewash onto the Big Brain, and Captain Ahab proclaims him to be white now, and he and Queequeg begin assaulting him. Fry gets an idea and jumps out the window.
Act V: "The big brain am winning again!"
Fry escapes from the Brain's field, and climbs a bookshelf. He attempts to electrocute the Big Brain with a broken chandelier, but crashes into the wall. A bookshelf then falls on top of him, breaking his neck. Leela tries to help, but Fry dies. The Big Brain laughs in triumph, but the Fry on the floor disappears, revealing that Fry is writing a book of his own. The Big Brain is trapped in this new book (filled with plot holes and spelling errors), in which Fry causes the Big Brain to leave Earth for no reason(raisin)?. The Big Brain falls for the trick, and flies off.
Outside, the Nibblonians "clean up" by consuming the fallen Brain Spawn. The population of Earth is returned to their normal levels of intelligence, but the process forces them to forget the entire incident. Only Fry remembers, but nobody believes him, nor do they really care. Nibbler returns to Leela to remain in disguise until the next time he is needed to protect the universe...
- The plot of this episode draws heavily from Star Trek episode #29, "Operation: Annihilate!" in which a string of planets are destroyed by space-bound brain cells that cause their victims to act suicidal, and from the 1957 "B"-movie The Brain from Planet Arous, which involves an alien brain from Arous possessing a human in an attempt to take over the world.
- The final act of the story is reminiscent of the last episode of The Mind Robber, a 1968 Doctor Who story where the Doctor defeats the Master Brain and escapes the Land of Fiction by writing his own story where fictional heroes help his companions escape.
- The planet Tweenis 12 is a reference to "tweens" (children between the ages of 10 and 12 who are not children anymore, but not yet teenagers). According to the commentary, the word "tweenis" is also a synonym for a part of human anatomy sometimes called the "taint".
- Madison Cube Garden's sign reads "Champion Pet Show Today" "Kids: See Toucan Sam's Death Mask". Toucan Sam is the mascot for Froot Loops, making another cereal reference.
- One booth at the pet show is for "Soylent Chow"; The picture shows a dog surrounded by the recycling symbol. The reference could either be for the butchering of humans as pet food or cannibalism of canines.
- Frank Welker plays both Nibbler's animal voice and his speaking voice.
- Bender's line "Hey, let's all join the Reform Party!" was changed to "Hey, let's all join the Tea Party!" on Comedy Central's cut of the show and the re-released DVD set. The original DVDs, the Fox version, the Adult Swim version, most English-dubbed international versions, and the Netflix version have the original "Reform Party" line.
- The first book Fry and Leela are trapped in is "Moby Dick". A later episode, "Möbius Dick" would draw from it.
- The second book Fry and Leela are trapped in is "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". The song "Tom Sawyer" by Rush would appear in "Anthology of Interest II".
- The episode presents the ruling council of the Nibblonians. They are seated in a manner similar to The Grey Council from the television show Babylon 5.
- According to the DVD commentary, the Hypnotoad's now-famous noise was actually a placeholder that wasn't meant to be used, but the crew found it so funny that they didn't reject it.
- The title of the episode is a reference to the 1951 classic sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still.
- While listing the planets the Brainspawn have destroyed, Hermes says "First the civilization of Space Rome collapsed, then Don Martin III went "kerflooie"..." The first is a reference to the empire of Ancient Rome, and its infamous collapse (the term almost always used to refer to its deterioration and eventual fall). The second refers to cartoonist Don Martin, whose comic strips heavily features onomatopoeic sound effects, like "kerflooie".
- At one point, Hermes walks into the lounge wearing a towel and holding a board in front of his face, and exclaims with delight, "Lookee me! I'm invisible!" This is a reference to how infants and very young children enjoy games like Peek-a-Boo, wherein if they can't see someone or something, they believe that person can't see them either, or that the object no longer exists ("out of sight, out of mind"). This is due to the fact that they have not yet developed the ability to imagine looking at things from a perspective or mindset other than their own, called the Theory of Mind in developmental psychology.
- When the Nibblonians send Leela to Earth to tell Fry about the Brains, they write the message down and pin it to her shirt, as well as preparing a pair of mittens and a bagged lunch. This is a reference to a stereotypical practice of mothers in the earlier half of the 20th century, when moms would send their young children to pick something up from, e.g., a corner drugstore, but they would not be confident that their little kids would remember what they were sent to buy, so their moms would pin the money and a note stating what they wanted on their shirt or coat, intended for the shopkeeper. The same goes for the mittens; mothers would not trust their kids to not lose them, so they would pin the mittens to their child's coat.
- Fry's last line, "And it was all thanks to the books at my local library", is from an old commercial promoting the fun and adventures one can have by reading books, available at one's local library.
- Planet Eternium is visited again in "The Why of Fry", where Nibbler again displays his ability to speak.
- The booths at the pet show seem to move around in order; Kibbles & Snouts starts next to the Soylent Chow booth, then an information booth is placed where K & S should be, and then the Cream booth ends up between K & S and Soylent Chow. This could be explained by multiple booths in different places.
- When Nibbler is jumping out of the window after hearing about Earth's potential annihilation, he is animated with wing flaps underneath his arms. He is never shown with these wing flaps at any other point in this episode, much less any other episode.
- Nibbler's wing flaps are meant to be shown. This is not a mistake.
- When Fry holds the head of George Washington, the letters spelling his name shift from upper to lower case.
- In one scene in the Planet Express employee lounge, Bender is cross-eyed.
- After the bookshelf collapses on Fry, the purple ray from the Brain to Leela has disappeared.
- Fry's writing does not appear in his book, Fry Tricks The Brain.
- When Nibbler is waving goodbye to Leela as the brains are starting their attack, he only has two fingers and a thumb, rather than three and a thumb.
The Big Brain: The Big Brain am winning again! I am the greetest! Muahahaha! Now I am leaving Earth for no raeson?!
Pet-show judge: [normal voice] And the grand prize winner... [monotonous] The Hypnotoad!
[The Hypnotoad, which was glaring at the judge, turns its gaze on the crowd. They all clap in unison.]
Pet-show judge: [monotonous] All glory to the Hypnotoad!
Leela: [Attempting to retrieve the note from the fire.] Ow! Fire hot!
Professor Farnsworth: The professie will help. [Catches on fire.] Uwahh! Fire indeed hot!
Leela: So your name is Lord Nibbler, that's a coincidence.
Nibbler: That is for your sake, in the time it would take to pronounce one letter of my true name, a trillion cosmoses would flare up and then sink into eternal night.
Leela: You can count on me.
Fiona: No, we can't. Once on Earth, you will be too stupid to remember the message.
Nibbler: That's why we wrote it down for you.
Ken: We've also prepared a bag lunch and some mittens.
The Big Brain: What do you want?
Fry: I'm here to kick your ass!
The Big Brain: Wishful thinking! We have long since evolved beyond the need for asses!
- Chester A. Arthur's head
- Debut: The Big Brain
- Debut: Fiona
- Dave Spiegel and Fluffers
- Debut: Hypnotoad
- Debut: Ken
- Debut: Pet-show judge
- Professor Farnsworth
- Rover and Pepper
- Debut: Captain Ahab
- Debut: Queequeg
- Debut: Tom Sawyer
- Debut: Elizabeth Bennet
- George Washington's head
- Voice Actors