Futurama’s Darkest Sci-Fi Joke Becomes Reality

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

They say life imitates art—and they’re often right. No more than in a recent, exceedingly dark twist, one in which Futurama’s razor-sharp comedy took a macabre, real-world turn. Fans of the show will recall the “suicide booths” featured in the episode “Space Pilot 3000,” where Fry and Bender attempt to avail themselves of the dark device, abandoning it when the “slow and horrible” death option fails. Well, these booths are now very much real. 

Futurama’s Suicide Booths Are Now A Real Thing

In a development closely mirroring the animated series, a device for assisted suicide, known as the “Sarco,” has been introduced to the world. The technology sparked heated discussion, alongside comparisons to the pods Fry and Bender made famous in Futurama.

In the fictional world of the series, the suicide machines cost users a meager 25 cents per use. They offer a choice: a “quick and painless” demise or the “slow and horrible” option mentioned above.

Devotees of the show will recall how Fry and Bender actually met while waiting in line for the device. 

The Sarco Pod

The real-life assistant suicide machine, the Sarco pod, which you can see above, derived its name from the sarcophagi of ancient Egypt and Greece. The device, fashioned with 3D-printing technology, was allegedly legally reviewed in 2021. While more traditional methods of legal assisted suicide employ liquid sodium pentobarbital, the Sarco operates differently.

Far from mimicking the options of the pods in Futurama, the Sarco floods its chamber with nitrogen while reducing oxygen levels—all of which induces death in about 10 minutes. While this method is allegedly more humane and painless than others, it nonetheless stirred enormous controversy and heated debate.

Just Like The Simpsons, Futurama Nailed The Prediction

Of course, many on X–formerly Twitter–inadvertently spread Sarco’s fame, comparing the scary pieces of technology to Futurama’s (at the time) fictional suicide booths. While many voiced shock at how the once outwardly far-fetched concept legitimately presaged a very concrete reality, others expressed surprise at Futurama’s spot-on, predictive natureMany even speculated the show might reference Sarco in its upcoming season. 

Are The Sarco Pods Legal?

Sarco’s actual implementation remains disputed and its feasibility is somewhat unclear. Some widely shared reports alleged the Swiss government had approved the device, while others maintained that no formal green light had been given. That said, an independent legal review reportedly concluded that the introduction and operation of such machines, theoretically, could be legal in the European country otherwise known for their scenic beauty and chocolate.

For their part, Sarco positions their device as a technology offering dignified, autonomous options for those seeking assisted suicide—assisted suicide, furthermore, free from psychiatric evaluations. The machine’s inventor, Philip Nitschke, underscored the relevance of personal choice in the device. 

Futurama Is Streaming On Hulu

Created by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, Futurama is no stranger in such predictions (neither is Groening’s other animated institution, The Simpsons). The most famous forecast by the futuristic comedy, by far, would be foreseeing that Donald Trump would one day be president. 

In the (seemingly unreal) real world, the Sarco pod reflects a society increasingly grappling with, and challenged by, the ethics surrounding technology and the right to die. 

Hopefully, Futurama’s next prediction that comes true will be a little more cheerful.

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