A Futurama Fan Theory Explains the Suicide Booths

WARNING: The following article discusses potentially triggering subject matter, including death and suicide.

futurama has had plenty of dark comic beats over the years, with the show repeatedly killing the main cast in non-canon episodes while wiping out the entire world multiple times over the course of seven seasons, but there’s one aspect of the show that eventually faded from the series because it was perhaps too dark—even though it might have an important secondary meaning. A fan theory about the Suicide Booths from futurama suggests the dark running gag is actually a more important aspect of 31st-century society than anyone realizes and that it might be one of the only true ways someone can experience death in this universe.

Introduced in the show’s premiere episode “Space Pilot 3000,” the Suicide Booths are some of the darkest gags in futurama. Looking to the common eye like a 20th-century phone box, the robotic booths allow patrons to step inside and deposit a small amount of money. Doing so will activate the machine, which will then execute whoever is inside the machine at the time before — as revealed in Season 6’s “Ghost in the Machine” — the body is prepared and delivered to the next of kin. It’s a grim gag that comes close to killing Fry in the debut episode and would reappear sporadically across the course of the show.

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As explained during the audio commentary of Season 1’s “I, Roommate,” the Fox Network was “freaked out” by elements like the Suicide Booths, likely explaining why they faded into the background of the show, but a fan theory from Reddit user Jacob_Wallace suggests the Suicide Booths actually have a firm purpose within the society of the series. The theory largely focuses on how in the world of futurama, it’s almost impossible to die. The futuristic technology and medicine of that era allow for medical miracles to be performed with relative ease.

Fry survives losing his hands in Season 3’s “I Dated a Robot,” only to have them replaced within an hour to no consequence. Hermes is beheaded and has his body crushed in Season 5’s “Bender’s Big Score,” only for his head to be preserved in a head jar while his body is repaired in a matter of days. Even old age is no longer a real threat, as the decrypt Farnsworth and his parents of him are able to live on in a virtual reality simulation in episodes like Season 7’s “Near-Death Wish.”

Even going through an apparently horrifying procedure under the claws of Doctor Zoidberg won’t kill someone, as Hermes is undisturbed when his body collapses into pieces in Season 6’s “The Tip of the Zoidberg.” There seems to be very few ways to genuinely die in the series despite the show’s overall high death count — with the theory citing how “complete disintegration” or being eaten alive seem to be the only truly fool-proof ways to kill someone in this universe .

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Instead, the theory suggests the Suicide Booths serve as one of the only truly effective ways to choose to die in this universe. Using one of the booths is an easy way to prove someone has made the conscious decision to end their existence, likely preventing scientists or doctors from trying to restore them. In a sense, it invites the audience to reconsider the purpose of the booths. Although they are blunt and brutal, it also serves a similar function to the more emotionally-driven final door from the conclusion of The Good Place.

In worlds where death is no longer truly the end, there has to come a degree of choice with ending things with a sense of finality. Humans can live for centuries in the world of futurama, but there still might be people who have lived the life they wanted, and don’t want to continue on. It speaks to one of the show’s ultimate throughlines—the importance of personal free will across the vastness of existence. While the delivery of the joke is potentially triggering, the suicide booths might quietly play an important part in Futurama’s society.

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