A Big Piece of Garbage

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Season 1 episode
A Big Piece of Garbage
A Big Piece of Garbage.jpg
Leela, Bender and Fry on the giant garbage ball
Production number1ACV08
Written byLewis Morton
Directed bySusan Dietter
Title captionMr. Bender's Wardrobe By Robotany 500
First air date11 May, 1999
Broadcast numberS01E08
Opening cartoon"A Corny Concerto"
Special guest(s)Ron Popeil as Ron Popeil's head
Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson
Nomination(s)Emmy Awards
Outstanding Animated Program, 1999


Season 1
  1. Space Pilot 3000
  2. The Series Has Landed
  3. I, Roommate
  4. Love's Labours Lost in Space
  5. Fear of a Bot Planet
  6. A Fishful of Dollars
  7. My Three Suns
  8. A Big Piece of Garbage
  9. Hell Is Other Robots
  10. A Flight to Remember
  11. Mars University
  12. When Aliens Attack
  13. Fry and the Slurm Factory
Season 2 →

"A Big Piece of Garbage" is the eighth episode of Futurama, the eighth of the first production season and the eighth of the first broadcast season. It aired on 11 May, 1999, on Fox. It guest-stars Ron Popeil as himself in a jar. After Farnsworth's development of the Smell-O-Scope, Fry discovers a giant ball of garbage heading directly for New New York, and it becomes a race against time to save the city.

The Story

Act I: "Tonight is a special night and I want all of you to be alive!"

Prof. Farnsworth tells the crew that they'll be making a delivery to Ebola 9, the Virus planet. He delays the delivery until the next day, so they will still be alive to attend the Academy of Inventors annual symposium and see him unveil his new invention, the Death Clock.

Act II: "The Smell-O-Scope is brilliant, I tell you!"

At the convention, Farnsworth is confronted by his old nemesis, Dr. Wernstrom. Wernstrom makes fun of Farnsworth's saying he will not be able to beat his invention. When he leaves, Farnsworth tells the crew that Wernstroom used to be one of his students and when he got an A minus from Farnsworth he vowed revenge, even if it takes a hundred years, but the professor now feels safe since 99 years have passed. Wernstrom presents his invention: the Reverse Scuba Suit, demonstrated by his pet fish Cinnamon. When it is Farnsworth's turn, he learns he had presented the Death Clock the past year, then he draws a prototype and presents his crude sketch of the Smell-O-Scope, a device that would allow you to smell distant objects, but the audience just laughs at him and Wernstrom wins the academy prize. The next day, he remembers that he already built a Smell-O-Scope last year, and with it Fry starts to smell at all directions. He discovers a bad smell which turns out to be a giant ball of garbage among the planets, headed straight for New New York. The crew watches a video that reveals that in the year 2052, Old New York launched a giant ball of garbage because of the accumulation in the city.

Act III: "New New York is going to be destroyed by a giant ball of garbage!"

Farnsworth runs to warn the Mayor of New New York about the ball of garbage. Wernstrom, acting as the Mayor's science advisor, denounces Farnsworth as a crackpot, until a report comes in from Neptune confirming Farnsworth's claims. A plan is prepared to send the Planet Express crew to plant explosives to destroy it. They fly to the ball but when they plant the bomb they discover the time goes very fast because Farnsworth installed the bomb's timer upside-down, then set it to to 52 seconds and not 25 minutes, and the crew has to dispose of the bomb so it won't blow them up, but this will doom the city.

Act IV: "Get that robot some more beer!"

Farnsworth is upset about his mistake. Wernstroom is called and claims to have a plan, but he is merely taking the chance to get some things he wants from the mayor. In desperation, they come up with an alternate plan: to deflect the garbage ball by hitting it with another garbage ball. Fry teaches them how to make trash and the people of New New York are called into action to start producing garbage. With guidance from Fry, they rise to the occasion and the new garbage ball is launched with a rocket. The plan goes off without a hitch, the original ball is deflected into the sun and Wernstrom's Academy prize is taken and awarded to Farnsworth instead. Leela comments that the second ball may come back to the Earth someday, but Fry remarks, "Who cares? That won't be for hundreds of years."


This episode was named #23 on IGN's list of top 25 Futurama episodes.

Additional Info


The man presumed to be Rudy Giuliani
Promo pic of this episode
  • In this episode, the professor reveals that the planet Uranus has been renamed "Urectum", which ironically, has a similar joke meaning to Uranus.
  • Bart Simpson dolls can be seen in this episode on the giant ball of garbage. They are voiced by his voice actor in The Simpsons, Nancy Cartwright.
  • For the garbage ball to reach Earth from Neptune in about two days, it would be traveling at about 25,462,962m/s or 56,959,028mph.
  • The person who kicks the barge full of Old New York's garbage out to sea appears to be then-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
  • During the end credits the song, "We'll Meet Again" made famous by Vera Lynn is played. The version used is by Kate Smith. (note to editor: Check it out before you change it back. It's neither the 1939 or 1953 Vera Lynn recordings. It sounds like Vera Lynn but it's not.)
  • On the Comedy Central airings of this episode, the cold opening where Farnsworth shows off his death predictor machine, Fry puts his finger in it to see how long he has to live, and everyone reacts with shock (while Bender says, "Dibs on his CD player") played after the opening rather than before.


Click here to see cultural mentions made in this episode.
  • The episode is a spoof of the film Armageddon.
  • The Professor's error with the bomb timer is a reference to a botched terrorist attack on the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center in Makati during early 1991. Like the Professor, the terrorists attached their timer upside down and consequently ended up setting it for two seconds instead of five minutes, resulting in the death of one would-be bomber and the second being severely injured.
  • The garbage barge is a reference to the Mobro 4000, a garbage barge of the late 1980s that also sailed from New York City.


  • Professor Farnsworth's doodle of himself as a cowboy could possibly be a doodle of his parallel self, seen in "I Dated a Robot".


July - 2002 Calendar

    Farnsworth: I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.
    Fry: Oh. What's it called now?
    Farnsworth: Urectum.

    Dr. Wernstrom: I give your invention the worst grade imaginable: An A-minus-minus.

    Fry: Wow, you got that off the Internet? In my day, the Internet was only used to download pornography.
    Farnsworth: Actually that's still true. [The two scientists on screen start to make out.]

    Bart Simpson doll: Eat my shorts!
    Bender: Okay! [Bender eats the doll's shorts.] Mmm, shorts.

    Bender: There's your problem. The professor put the counter on upside down!
    Leela: That idiot! It wasn't set for 25 minutes: it was set for 52 seconds!
    Fry: [screams in terror] We're gonna die! [normal voice] Right?
    Bender: Right! [Fry screams again.]

    Linda: All in all, this is one day Mittens the kitten won't soon forget [Gives an empty-headed laugh.]
    Morbo: [cackles malevolently] Kittens give Morbo gas! In lighter news, the city of New New York is doomed.

    Farnsworth: If my calculations are correct, this garbage ball will knock the other garbage ball directly into the sun!
    Wernstrom: And if my calculations are correct, we're all going to die horribly. [He laughs triumphantly, then, realizing what he said, falls silent.]

    Mayor Poopenmeyer: On behalf of the entire city, I thank you, Professor Farnsworth. I now present you with the Academy Prize, which we confiscated from Doctor Wernstrom after it became apparent that he was a jackass.


  • When the Professor is presenting his napkin, the projector wouldn't actually show the drawing on the paper, but would rather just project a black silhouette of the paper, since it wasn't translucent.
    • Recent technology, though, has evolved cameras to project images onto a screen. This invention could include a projection machine where the lenses are placed in older transparency projectors.
  • When Ron Popeil introduces Wernstrom, it shows Fry at the next table in his regular red jacket, but when it zooms in on him booing he is back in his tuxedo.
  • The Academy of Inventors logo contains a wheel, even though the wheel has become obsolete.
    • Perhaps the wheel has just been left on the logo since the academy was founded.
  • Professor Farnsworth shows them a video about the garbage on Earth that he got on the Internet, even though Planet Express doesn't get online until the episode "A Bicyclops Built for Two".
    • In "A Bicyclops Built for Two" the Professor says that a few years prior he had longed onto AOL and that it had just gone through. That does not mean that he could not have used something different.
  • In the scene where Fry is showing Mayor Poopenmeyer how to make garbage, there is one shot where we see the mayor lay his chair on the ground while in the next shot it's back up and finally in a third shot the chair is on the ground, but in a different location.
  • The Mr. Spock collector's plate wouldn't have shattered when it hit the garbage ball or dropped that quickly, because the garbage ball is too gooey and there wasn't a strong enough gravity.
  • The garbage balls wouldn't be the same density if made out of different materials, or different garbage.
  • Leela claims that the cotton gin was invented in the 19th century, but Eli Whitney invented the modern version of the cotton gin in 1793.
    • This may just be a reflection of Leela's poor knowledge of that era.
  • The Farnsworth in the picture of 100 years ago looks different from the Farnsworth in the flashback of 100 years ago.
  • During the scene where Farnsworth looks on a computer screen and says that a giant smelly object is headed directly toward Earth, the glow on his computer is green. However, the light on his face is blue.


(In alphabetic order)

Episode Credits