Does Star Trek Beyond rip off a Futurama joke?

The two futuristic franchises might have crossed paths again

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Matt Groening’s sci-fi cartoon Futurama owed a great debt to the original Star Trek TV series, from its futuristic setting (which was very Star Trek-like) and Captain Kirk-inspired character Zapp Brannigan to the plots of some entire episodes, which included reuniting the original Enterprise crew (such as Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols) to battle an evil Trek fan. 

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Now, however, it looks like the Star Trek franchise is returning the favour – because a joke in new movie Star Trek Beyond is almost identical to one seen in a 1999 episode of Futurama.

Look away now if you don’t want to know the gag…

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OK, we’ll keep this vague to avoid spoilers. For reasons we won’t go into, the song Sabotage by the Beastie Boys (which also featured prominently in Star Trek Beyond’s controversial first trailer) plays a crucial part in one of the film’s climactic scenes, leading one character to quizzically enquire if someone’s playing “classical music.”

Of course, it makes sense that music as old as Sabotage is, from Star Trek Beyond’s futuristic perspective, described as classical – we sort music from more recently in our own past into that genre – so the joke is a fun twist of logic.

But it’s also an idea that Futurama came up with 17 years ago, when lead character Fry (Billy West) came into some money and decided to recreate his late 20th-century life in the year 3000. Starting with some Sir Mix-A-Lot cassettes…

Fun homage, accidental copying or coincidence? Whatever the reason, this time Star Trek went where one show definitely HAD been before.

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Star Trek Beyond is in UK cinemas from Friday 22 July