Death Clock Countdown, part 1
"DEATH CLOCK COUNTDOWN"
Oh why should the spirit of mortal be proud!
Like a swift, fleeting meteor-a fast-flying cloud-
A flash of the lightning-a break of the wave--
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave-Robert Knox
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?-W.B. Yeats
See, it used to be milk and, well, time makes fools of us
all.-Phillip J Fry
CAPTION: Expiration date: indefinite, like a Twinkie!
INT. PLANET EXPRESS - LOUNGE - DAY SCENE 1
FRY and BENDER are sitting at the conference table.
...so if your nose ends in your throat, why can't
you eat through your nose?
I don't know--it would save a lot of trouble
chewing, wouldn't it? Should we find out?
BENDER offers FRY an apple. FRY hesitates.
I did tell Leela I'd think more about the conse-,
the conse--, well to try to do fewer stupid things
and think about the future, anyway.
Another attempt to improve yourself, huh?
Something must have happened with Leela after
your opera crashed and burned.
It's really not what you might think. I'll tell
you someday soon, promise. So how about I start
with an olive instead?
Here ya' go! I was saving that for my martini,
but don't say I'm not one to sacrifice.
FRY shoves the olive up his left nostril, pinches the right shut,
and inhales. The olive lodges in his sinus with a slight "whud".
His eyes begin to water.
Oh wait, that was the jalapeno stuffed
one. Shouldn't make much of a difference
FRY doesn't reply, as he is too busy trying to shove a butter
knife up his nose to fish out the uncooperative olive. Just then
LEELA enters, humming to herself. Fry whips the knife out of his
nose and shoves it into his jacket pocket.
Hi guys. Early to the meeting for once!
Unusual --which usually means trouble.
Fry, what's wrong with you?
He just has a stuffy nose.
FRY smiles weakly. ZOIDBERG, FARNSWORTH, AMY, and HERMES
enter and seat themselves at the table.
Good news, everyone!
FRY, LEELA, and BENDER automatically turn to look at FARNSWORTH,
but check themselves, and look at HERMES.
I've just made some adjustments to your
health and retirement plans! It's
amazin'--we are now turning a profit!
Retirement fund? What's that?
Well, Fry, you don't have to worry about
it anymore, because as of today you no
longer have one --in fact
(handing Fry $100)
I've cashed out your account for you.
Don't worry, mon, be happy!
More money for no extra work?
He turns to LEELA patronizingly.
And you've been telling me all this time
that nothing in life comes free!
It doesn't. Hermes, why all these sudden
She grabs a piece of paper from HERMES.
And why is his health insurance being
cancelled? Are they worried about him
trying to run a marathon again?
Good news, everyone!
FRY gulps, and the olive shoots deeper into his nasal
PROF. FARNSWORTH (CONT'D)
Hermes can turn us profitable because of
my greatest and latest invention--
the death clock!
Gleech! Professor, didn't you already
invent a death clock at the inventor's
conference a while ago?
And didn't you already demonstrate it on
Yeah, and remember --his CD player is
No, no, no! This is no ordinary death
clock, like what I used on Fry! This one
What do you mean? What was wrong with
your old one?
That piece of junk! It wasn't adjusted
for the correct time zone, and because of
the chaotic nature of life, small
deviations in the present time
measurements propagated into huge errors
when computing your death day from the
worldline constrictions. The numbers
were off by at least 120 years!
So I'm actually going to live for ... 240
years! Wow, so much for worrying about
my future actions! See, it all works
Fry, mon, try subtraction, not addition.
I don't believe in negativity.
Fortunately, I only needed to cannibalize
parts from the Preventatron to adjust the
chronaton feedback, ensuring stability.
Too bad I blew into those Preventatron
plans when I had that bad head cold.
Well, anyway the Professor has generously
given me your death data to readjus' our
actuary tables, thus saving Planet
Express enormous sums of cash down the
road! Our cash reserves will be growing
faster than a zombie invasion!
But I don't remember putting my finger in
Yeah, I've kept my finger to myself
actually more like in myself...
Yes, instead of putting a dirty finger
into the clock, I can now use a camera to
make the measurement, like, say, the
hidden camera in the center of this table
He points to flowerpot at center of table.
In fact, that secret camera in there is
telling me all your life statistics right
So that means...
BENDER lifts up the flowerpot, revealing a small video
camera on a swivel.
Neat! What does it say about me? How
many centuries do I have?
Sadly, the device does not work on
...that if he is taking away my health
Um, Hermes? How's my retirement plan
Ah, Amy, we're going to have to increase
your contributions substantially, so you
can afford the all the cuteness
enhancement surgery you're going to need
for the centuries ahead.
(glances at Fry)
I mean, Oh no! What a terrible burden to
...it means he thinks I'm not gonna need
medical help in the future...
And Zoidberg? What destiny lies before
The reading here says that you will live
Yes, remember that Zoidberg's species
reproduces by budding. Thus there is
really no beginning or end to his
worldline, no pinches in the spacetime of
his ancestors to generate a temporal echo
that I could amplify.
Zoidberg is the culmination of millennia
of careful breeding by my valiant
ancestors, molded by the harsh forces of
He nibbles on a discarded boot.
(the little train reaching its
...that means that I'm never going to get
Well, yes, I suppose that's true in a
manner of speakin'...
Hermes, stop toying with him!
Fry, use your brai-- oh never mind!
Hermes is saying you're going to die!
FRY inhales sharply and the olive becomes lodged in his
throat. He makes no sound, but begins to turn blue.
LEELA, having turned toward PROF. FARNSWORTH and HERMES,
does not notice.
And you're exploiting our most personal
information, all for cutting costs!? Is
that even legal?
We've been using genetics for centuries
to predict lifespans and assign career
chips--why is this any different?
But these are our actual death dates that
Leela, you need to relax. In fact,
you've accumulated almost four days of
vacation time, and well, if I were you,
I'd use them starting today, you know
what I mean?
LEELA stares at HERMES in horror. Meanwhile, BENDER has
been watching Fry turn various shades of the rainbow, with
much amusement. HERMES looks at Fry, and the camera
swivels back toward the delivery boy.
Uh, Fry? Can I have that money back?
BENDER whacks Fry in the back, and FRY coughs, spitting out
Hurray! Manna from heaven!
Well, call me a voodoo economist!
He beams at a slowly recovering Fry.
I was wrong about you!
FRY looks hopeful.
Instead of today, you'll die instead
between Tuesday and Thursday. How
considerate of you! That's just enough
time to get your replacement!
INT. PETSHOP - DAY
LEELA, FRY, and BENDER are wandering through a pet shop, with
Leela wringing her hands, upset.
I still don't get why you want to do
Yeah, just picking a human to kill as a
test would be much quicker proof,
Fry, the death clock has just predicted
both our deaths within a week! Now
before we start overreacting...
...we need to test whether that machine
really is accurate. It's already been
wrong before. Maybe the Professor has
made another mistake.
Or why not just go to a hospital or ape
fight with the camera, find some poor
loser about to bite it, and follow him
until he drops?
Well...I did think of it, but it seems so
ghoulish. Also, I think the odds of
quickly finding someone who is dying so
soon are really small.
In the background, outside the store, a MAN can be seen
walking. Suddenly he falls down a manhole.
I hate to say this, but we're going to
have to test it on an animal.
Are you sure you want to go through with
this, Leela? This isn't like you,
wanting to hurt a harmless animal.
Don't make this harder than it is. The
professor said that almost any animal
with a limbic cortex would generate a
sufficient death signal --it's just a
matter of finding an animal I don't like.
BENDER lifts an adorable kitten out of a cage.
OK, then. How about a few of these?
INT. PET STORE - SOME TIME LATER
An exhausted LEELA stares at BENDER, who is now surrounded by
Titanese methane slug?
But the snowy white mucas makes it look
so vulnerable! And those fangs are so
tiny and cute! And there are only ten!
And they are so expensive! We need
around 300 animals to do a convincing
statistical test, and between us we only
A distant memory stirs FRY.
300 animals? 300 dollars? Why does
INT. PLANET EXPRESS LOUNGE--THAT EVENING
A circular barrier has been placed around the perimeter of
the round meeting table, on top of which 300 marked lizards
are running around, sleeping, napping, and generally doing
lizard-like things. In the middle of it all sits the
swiveled camera, like a god surrounded by worshippers. A
small platform is mounted in front of it. LEELA is typing
some commands into her wrist thingie.
OK, I've programmed my wrist thingmajig
to pick a random number between 1 and
300. The camera will scan all the
lizards, and one lizard should have a
shorter lifespan than the others. We'll
record that lizard's tag number, and only
then will we look at the random number.
And then..., and then....
And then we kill all lizards!
No, you will only take the lizard whose
number matches the random pick, and then
humanely and painlessly end its life with
dignity and respect. If the camera
works, the random number and the lizard's
tag number should be the same.
BENDER and FRY nod in agreement. LEELA scans the lizards
with the camera.
Strange..they all seem to have identical
death dates, only minutes into the
future. How is that ... wait! Here's
Only ten seconds left?
BENDER holds his "Grabby" hand over number 137 and shoots
100,000 volts of charge between his fingers. In an instant
a pile of ashes is all that remains of the unfortunate
Bender! You needed to wait for my random
I know. Just testing out my self
jackinator system. Pretty painless, huh?
First, I know you did not install that
system for humane execution. You be
careful, or you'll end up in Robot Hell
again. Second, this time I'll not say
what I see when I'm scanning, and you'll
read off the random number without me
BENDER and FRY nod in agreement.
OK, then both of you turn away. OK, not
that one.. Not that one.. Strange.. They
are all still giving identical death
Maybe this camera isn't accurate after
all. Wait! Here's one that is 30
seconds earlier than the rest.
She swivels the camera away from the animal in question,
and holds up her wrist thingie without looking at the
Bender, read off the random number.
BENDER glances at the number and lifts the appropriate
lizard onto the platform. LEELA turns away to not watch
the electrocution. PROF. FARNSWORTH enters.
Good news, everyone! You're going on a
mission to an exciting and unusual
The three experimenters leap up, startled, and whirl around
to face him.
PROF. FARNSWORTH (CONT'D)
We have been contracted to deliver a
large quantity of pillows and lettuce to
Plushton V, one of the softest celestial
bodies in existence that still bears
Unnoticed by all, DR. ZOIDBERG enters the room behind
PROF. FARNSWORTH (CONT'D)
The inhabitants of the planet have only
recently been contacted by the DOOP, in
strict compliance with Brannigan's Law.
A very healthy trade has sprouted between
us and them, but under very severe
DR. ZOIDBERG eyes the lizards on the table with disbelief.
What vision is caressing my eyes? A
throbbing feast to torment poor Zoidberg!
But perhaps Zoidberg is only dreaming of
them? Or perhaps they are only dreaming
The Plushtonians are unaware of anything
harder than a 2 on the Moh scale of
hardness--no plastic, no metal, not even
our true forms can be revealed directly
to them, or we will change their
ZOIDBERG eats the lizard on the platform.
Sweet turenger fills my sappic sac!
These are distant cousins to the
Decopodian's mortal enemies, the
Saurichians of Gamma Tau 12! Zoidberg
shall both sate his hunger and sate his
people's hunger for vengeance!
FRY, LEELA, and BENDER hear a sudden shrieking sound and
spin around to see the tail of the very last lizard
disappear into ZOIDBERG'S mouth.
INT-PLANET EXPRESS SHIP BRIDGE--NEXT MORNING
LEELA sits in the captain's chair while FRY, BENDER, and
AMY lounge around the cabin. The death clock is mounted by
the captain's chair, easily accessible by Leela.
I don't understand why I have to come
(peering into camera)
The death clock is showing your death
decades into the future. If it is
correct--and I'm not saying it is--then
this reading means that while you are on
the ship all of us are likely safe.
Isn't it possible that I escape any ship
malfunction that kills everyone else?
I thought about that, so I went ahead and
took your life support kit and spacesuit
off the ship before we left.
Chan-tow! Leela, don't take your anger
out on me just because I'm doomed to
struggle to be cute for decades to come..
Anyway, this gives us time to focus on
surviving Plushton V.
Leela, Plushton V is covered with a
surface so soft that the planet is one
big waterbed. How can it be dangerous?
Yeah, and didn't the professor say that
the inhabitants have been at peace for
over five million years? That this is
possibly the most boring mission I'll
have to suffer through?
True, but the possibility of cosmic irony
Anyway, I thought you didn't believe that
No, since Zoidberg destroyed our test we
can't absolutely be sure. But it did
predict the death times of those lizards,
so there is no reason to take a foolish
She aims the camera at Fry.
The camera is actually having a hard time
pinpointing your death--it keeps skipping
around... but it seems that today is the
first real significant chance for you to
die, although the peak probability is
three days from now. And as for myself,
my readings are also all over the place,
but it looks like my first dangerous day
is not until tomorrow.
That thing seems pretty worthless--can't
even get you down to the right day. How
can I even plan my mourning drinking
Although...the uncertainties around your
deaths opens up some interesting betting
(lost in thought)
I don't really understand this either.
The professor said that the precision of
this new clock is sensitive to all sorts
of factors. Getting close to the date
itself seems to narrow down the
uncertainty. A bunch of near-death
encounters right in a row might also blur
the answer. And the professor thinks that
Fry's being his own grandfather has tied
a knot in his four-dimensional worldline,
messing things up further.
(glares at Fry)
Not that messing up things is exactly
rare for you, is it?
I have been prone to a wacky misadventure
The only certainty is that Fry will
likely die before me, and that today is
his first truly probable day. That's why
Amy is here as well--to take over Fry's
job for the next few days.
AMY AND FRY
I've been thinking about it since
liftoff, and after careful consideration
it makes sense. Fry, as captain I'm
ordering you to stay in your cabin until
we are safely back off Plushton's
Why? Whadid I do?
It's not what you've done, but what you
are likely to do. Face it Fry, the odds
of you doing something stupid to kill us
both are much higher than my doing it.
Anyway, there are some diplomatic
delicacies to this mission that would be
much simpler to deal with if you weren't
Leela, you know I have no chance against
reason and logic. But please at least
let me stay on the bridge! I've already
counted all the rivets in my cabin twice,
and it's just not as exciting the third
time around! After all, I've been up
here countless times and nothing really
bad has happened.
FRY swivels in his chair, knocking his elbow against a
large red button.
Self-destruct sequence initiated. Dark
matter reaction will occur in 10, 9,
Fry flails around the console frantically. Sighing, LEELA
presses another button on her chair. The voice stops. Fry
turns around to see LEELA, AMY, and even BENDER looking
steadily at him.
OK. I'll stay below.