WARNING! This article contains spoilers for Futurama season 11, episode 4!
- “Futurama” season 11, episode 4 is a massive parody of “Dune,” incorporating 10 Easter eggs and references to the franchise.
- The episode features a substitution of glitter for the iconic spice element in “Dune,” used for transportation and gaining clairvoyance.
- The parody also includes orange eyes as a side-effect of glitter, a nod to the blue eyes associated with spice users in “Dune.”
Futurama season 11, episode 4 is a massive parody of Dune, and here are all 10 of the episode’s Easter eggs and references to the beloved franchise. Due to the deep lore and massive impact of Dune, Futurama has plenty of elements that it is able to homage in its parody episode. Some of these Dune jokes are obvious, while others are more subtle, only being picked up by fans of the franchise. So, here is every Dune nod in Futurama season 11, episode 4, including what they mean and how they connect to Dune.
Futurama is finally back, with season 11 giving the Planet Express crew a new batch of episodes for the first time since the show’s cancelation in 2013. Futurama is no stranger to making sci-fi jokes, with the entire series being a massive homage to classic sci-fi stories and franchises. Futurama has poked fun at Star Trek, Star Wars, and all kinds of beloved sci-fi properties. However, Futurama episode 11, episode 4 is the first episode-length parody of Frank Herbert’s Dune series, with it coming at the perfect time due to Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation. So, here is where to spot every Dune reference in Futurama season 11.
10 Glitter Is Spice
Spice Melange is one of the most important elements in the Dune franchise, with it being used for transportation, bartering, and even allowing its user to gain clairvoyance and gain memories from past ancestors. Due to the importance of spice, it’s no surprise that Futurama‘s Dune parody would include the iconic element, with glitter being subbed in for spice. The Futurama episode takes place in a vast desert located within Nibbler’s litter box, and the episode’s spice substitute is actually a scent-covering glitter.
9 Glitter’s Orange Eyes Side-Effect
One of the side-effects of spice in the Dune franchise is that it gives its users blue eyes, something prominently features in the marketing for the Dune movies. The Fremen are the group most commonly associated with blue eyes, and Futurama makes sure to parody this. Futurama season 11’s glitter also has a side-effect of changing eye color, but this time it turns the eyes of the Planet Express crew orange. An explanation isn’t given for why the Planet Express crew’s eyes turn orange instead of blue, but the side-effect is close enough that the reference is clear.
8 The Parasitic Sandworms
In the Dune franchise, massive sandworms populate the world of Arrakis, with them being a major threat throughout the franchise. With the sandworms being one of the most iconic aspects of Dune, it’s no surprise that they would pop up in Futurama‘s parody episode. This time, the sandworms are parasitic, with them being behind Nibbler’s illness. Because of this, the main plot of the episode follows the Planet Express crew as they attempt to hunt down and wipe out the parasitic sandworm. Like Dune‘s sandworms, Futurama‘s sandworms are ultra-sensitive to vibration from footsteps, although Futurama‘s sandworms are actually a huddled-together group of the parasites from season 3’s “Parasites Lost.”
7 The Ancient Prophecy
Ancient prophecies are a major element in the story of Dune, with tales and visions of great battles and messianic prophecies filling the pages of Frank Herbert’s beloved sci-fi series. Because of this, ancient prophecies also make their way into Futurama‘s parody episode, with the inhabitants of Nibbler’s sandbox believing in a prophecy that Nibbler would save them from the sandworms. Interestingly, though, Futurama isn’t critical of the use of prophecies, whereas much of Dune‘s thematic purpose has to do with rejecting the idea that prophetic thought is good.
6 “Dune” Beetles
The main inhabitants of Nibbler’s litter box in Futurama season 11 are a band of dung beetles, with the bugs having created their own society populated with beetle monarchs and soldiers. Although the beetles do roll up dung, they explain that their name is pronounced in an interesting way. According to the beetles, the “g” in “dung” is silent according to their pronunciation. This new pronunciation makes the name of the creature sound like “dune beetles,” with the grammatical gag being a clear reference to the franchise that Futurama is parodying.
5 The Roachthopter
While the Planet Express crew is looking for a means of transportation in Nibbler’s sandbox, the queen of the dung beetles mentions a vehicle that is another obvious Dune reference. The queen explains that the Planet Express crew can take the roachthopter, with the roachthopter being a helicopter-like flying ship that is shaped like a roach. The roachthopter is a joke on Dune‘s ornithopters, the spaceships that are designed to look exactly like dragonflies in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune films. The roachthopter gag is a funny Easter egg for fans of the Dune series, with it not overstaying its welcome.
4 Dune’s Disgusting Creatures
Futurama season 11 introduces several species of creatures that populate Nibbler’s litter box, and they’re all pretty disgusting. This is another joke at the expense of Dune, as much of Dune‘s alien wildlife is pretty gross. Dune‘s fleshy, gross-looking desert dwellers do work as uncanny alien species, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune from Futurama‘s satire.
3 All Of The Litter Box’s Inhabitants Use Melee Weapons
When Fry, Bender, Leela, and Zoidberg go into Nibbler’s litter box, they are all armed with guns, prepared to fight off the box’s inhabitants. However, all of the hostile enemies in the litter box only use swords and other melee weapons, making the Planet Express crew’s job a little easier. This is actually because armor exists in the Dune franchise that is immune to fast-moving projectiles like bullets, meaning that melee weapons are the only effective form of combat. Even this small detail was carried over into Futurama season 11, showing the series’ love for the franchise.
2 The God Emperor Of Dung
After the Planet Express crew encounters the parasitic sandworm, the worms disassemble, showing that they are an entire army of worms. While talking to the Planet Express crew, the king of the worms refers to himself as “the god emperor of dung,” which is another clever reference. This is obviously a nod to the fourth book God Emperor of Dune, but it also goes deeper than that. In God Emperor of Dune, the titular God Emperor is Leto II Atreides, who just so happens to be a giant sandworm.
1 Nibbler Is The True Messiah
The idea of a messiah is a huge part of the Dune books, with one of the novels even being called Dune Messiah. This aspect of Dune is referenced in Futurama season 11 as well, with the prophecy foretelling that Nibbler is the true messiah in the litter box. In this way, Nibbler fills Paul Atreides’ role in the books, with the Nibbler prophecy being a clever way to end Futurama season 11, episode 4’s Dune parody.
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