The Problem with Popplers
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|Season 2 episode|
|The Problem with Popplers|
|Title caption||For external use only|
|First air date||7 May, 2000|
|Title reference||Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles|
|Opening cartoon||Up to Mars (1930)|
|Nomination(s)||Environmental Media Awards|
Comedy — TV Episodic, 2000 (won)
"The Problem with Popplers" is the twenty-eighth episode of Futurama, the fifteenth of the second production season and the eighteenth of the second broadcast season. It aired on 7 May, 2000, on Fox. After discovering on a distant planet a very tasty snack, which they name Popplers, the Planet Express company begins selling them to the citizens of New New York. Shortly after, they are becoming a big hit and the crew begins supplying them to Fishy Joe's, however the Popplers carry a terrible truth.
 Act I: "We taught a lion to eat tofu."
Returning from the Planet of the Moochers, the crew has no food. After some foraging they discover a delicious, bite size, motionless animal, and pack the ship full of them. the rest of the staff approve and Fry comes up with the name Popplers. Bender decides to sell them. Fishy Joe decides to sell them at his restaurant, paying the crew $1 a dozen. Soon over a million are sold. Hippies, led by Free Waterfall Jr., protest the eating of Popplers outside Planet Express. While getting things to throw at the protesters, Leela discovers a week-old Poppler. Before Leela can throw it out, the Poppler opens its eyes and calls her "mama".
 Act II: "Parrots talk and we eat them, right?"
Leela tries to stop people from eating Popplers, and has the rest of the crew join the protesting at Fishy Joe's. Joe, Free Waterfall Jr. and Leela appear on Datenight with Linda to debate eating Popplers, with the young Poppler joining in. The Omicronians invade Earth again and tell the world that the Popplers are Omicronian young and announce that, in revenge, they'll eat the people of Earth. Zapp and Kif begin negotiations with the invaders to reach a peaceful settlement. A deal is struck stating that only one Earthling will be eaten, the one that first ate one of Omicronian young, Leela.
 Act III: "Try our new, extreme walrus juice!"
The eating of Leela is broadcast on TV with a large audience. Zapp devises a plan to fool the Omicronians, Kif disguises an orangutan as Leela. Lrrr almost falls for it, but Free Waterfall Jr. interrupts and tells him the truth to save the orangutan. Ndnd eats it anyway. Leela is sent out to Lrrr, but the young Omicronian, now calling itself Jrrr, convinces him to stop. Lrrr, instead, eats Free Waterfall Jr., to the delight of the crowd, and becomes high. The Omicronians leave and Leela is safe. The staff has a feast of animals to celebrate, including a veal, a pig and a dolphin. The crew are disgusted by this and refuse to eat the dolphin because dolphins are intelligent. Bender assures them that this is different since this dolphin blew all his money on instant lottery tickets.
 Additional Info
 Poppler song lyrics
- This episode marks the tradition of killing off members of the Waterfall family.
- Over 198 billion Popplers were eaten before the end of the episode. The profit that Planet Express and staff would have received from the sales comes to $16.5 billion (before tax), but where the money went is unknown.
- This episode marks the first usage of Fry and Leela's given names (Philip and Turanga, respectively).
- Both the title and the plot of the episode refer to the Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles".
- Roddenberries and the term "Type M planet" refer to the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, and the way planets are designated within the franchise.
- Fry's says to Leela that "that's the second billboard you've crashed into this week!". This is a fourth-wall break which refers to the opening sequence's billboard crash.
- The necklace worn by Free Waterfall, Jr. looks very similar to the Esperanto jubilee symbol.
- Fry says "Parrots talk and we eat them, right?". In "Xmas Story", Fry's parrot was killed and ended up being served by Bender as Xmas dinner.
- "Fishy" Joseph Gilman states that the reason we don't eat people is because they taste lousy. But, in "Fry and the Slurm Factory", Leela reveals the existence of a soda called "Soylent Cola", whose taste apparently "varies from person to person".
- Exactly. They don't eat people because they taste lousy, but that doesn't stop them from processing them for beverages. Besides, they probably loaded Soylent Cola with a lot of sugar and artificial ingredients, like with real soda, so you can't even taste the human remains in Soylent Cola.
- Zapp's pronunciation of "guacamole" as "gwack-ah-mol" is a continuation of his problem pronouncing foreign loanwords, first revealed in "Love's Labours Lost in Space" ("champagne" as "sham-pag-in").
- When Leela first discovers that Popplers are intelligent creatures, she throws Jrrr away and licks her fingers. There are five "finger-licking" sounds, even though she only has four fingers. The fourth finger-licking sound is the one with no movement to it. The fourth being the transition between licking her last finger and going to lick her thumb.
- Although this is only speculation and unconfirmed, it is likely that whomever did the finger-licking sound effect simply licked their own hand, not thinking to skip a finger in order to match the four-fingered hands of the Futurama universe.
- When the first batch of Popplers is sold and the sign starts working, it should count by twelve, as Popplers are sold in batches of twelve and it reads "over # Popplers served" and not "over # batches of Popplers served".
- Fishy Joe claims that "The only reason we don't eat people is because it tastes lousy!" He seems to be unaware of the number of soylent products which exist in the 31st century.
Leela: Great, we're two days from Earth with no food!
Bender: [He gestures to Fry and Leela.] Problem solved: You two fight to the death and I'll cook the loser! [In an undertone to Leela.] Work his gut, I like it tender.
Leela: Well, it's a type M planet, so it should at least have Roddenberries.
Fry: I'm experienced at foraging. I used to find edible mushrooms on my bath mat!
Bender: I found some rocks! You guys eat rocks, right?
Bender: [Invitingly.] Not even if they're sautéed in a little mud?
Professor Farnsworth: Hey! Unless this is a nude love-in... get the hell off my property!
Free Waterfall Jr.: You can't own property, man.
Professor Farnsworth: I can. But that's because I'm not a penniless hippie.
Professor Farnsworth: Oh, God! They're back!
Amy: We're doomed.
Bender: [Breathes in.] Doooooooooooooooooooo...
Zapp: Hmm. A hundred and ninety eight billion babies in a few weeks. We'll need an army of super virile men scoring 'round the clock! I'll do my part. Kif, clear my schedule. [Kif takes out an Etch-A-Sketch and shakes it.]
Bender: Who wants dolphin? [The crew gasps.]
Leela: Dolphin? But dolphins are intelligent!
Bender: Not this one. He blew all his money on lottery tickets!
Fry: [Confused.] Turanga?
Amy: That's her name, Philip.
Leela: Well, this Poppler spoke to me.
Bender: Well, maybe it's just like a parrot and only learned to talk as a parlour trick. Like Fry.
Fry: Like Fry! Like Fry!
Bender: I'll miss you, Leela. I know you're just a carbon-based life form, but I'll always think of you as a big pile of titanium! [starts crying]
Fry: What Bender means is, you're really brave and smart and beautiful and a great friend.
Bender: [sobs] Just like titanium!
Leela: Thank you, Jrrr. I hope you'll always think of me as your mom.
Jrrr: When my speicies grows up, we eat our moms.
- Debut: Fishy Joe
- Debut: Free Waterfall Jr.
- Debut: Guy who delivers the rat droppings (mentioned in speech only)
- H. G. Blob
- Debut: Hot dog vendor
- Huge-assed woman
- Debut: Jrrr
- Kif Kroker
- Debut: M.E.A.T.'s Lion
- Nibbler (cameo, unknown moment)
- Prof. Farnsworth
- Zapp Brannigan