In the beginning, there was Frinkiac, and it was good. Actually, it was pretty great. The Simpsons search engine, which launched in February, matches up your favorite quote with the right still image (or GIF) from the most cromulent animated series of all time. Now? There’s a matching Futurama version. Shut up and take my money.
Morbotron–named after Morbo, a human-hating alien news anchor from the Futurama universe–just launched this week. Like Frinkiac did for The Simpsons before it, Morbotron collects quotes from every single season of Futurama, and pairs them with the relevant screenshot. It has “almost a million” screen caps loaded into the system, so you won’t be lacking for options.
You can either search for a specific quote or gin up a random one, and there’s a one-click sharing option to get your favorite still on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit. You can also create a meme (in this case, just placing the quote in block text over the associated still), or a GIF up to eight seconds long. It really is, in all the best ways, exactly like Frinkiac. And that was always the plan.
“We’ve been planning to do another show since before we even launched Frinkiac to the public,” says Paul Kehrer, who created both search engines alongside Sean Schulte and Allie Young. “Futurama was the easy choice due to the nerdy humor and hilarious animation.”
That doesn’t mean it was necessarily easy. The team needed to adapt the original Frinkiac code to be more generic, Kehrer says, so that it could function as a platform rather than a specific site. And unlike many early seasons of The Simpsons, Futurama was created for 1080p widescreen televisions, which required some further retooling to accommodate.
“[It] wasn’t particularly hard, but had a few wrinkles along the way,” says Kehrer.
It’s hard to argue with the results, and with the platform’s overall progress. When Frinkiac first launched, there were limited sharing options and no GIF support. When GIFs did launch in May, they were limited to four seconds; now they can go twice as long. The sites today are decidedly faster and more feature-filled than Frinkiac was just a few months ago. Professor Farnsworth would be proud.
Morbotron’s off to a little bit of a slower start than Frinkiac, though; on launch day it peaked at around 600 concurrent visitors, while its Simpsons equivalent hit nearly eight times that at its zenith. Course, Futurama doesn’t occupy quite as high a spot in the pop culture firmament as The Simpsons. Still, it’s doing ample business; Kehrer says that Morbotron cranks out as many as 10 memes per second, just a few days in. The two sites combined currently have generated 850GB of GIFs, though traffic isn’t always predictable.
“Frinkiac sees big spikes associated with current events,” says Kehrer. “When Gordie Howe died our top searches for two or three days were all related to that. Trump has been persistently popular as a search term this year as well.” Popular Frinkiac searches outside of the news cycle include “everything’s coming up Milhouse” and “worst episode ever.” So far on Morbotron, Kehrer says, “good news” and “shut up and take my money” are leading the charge.
There are a few improvements left to make on both sites. Kehrer names better filtering and an episode browser as near-term features he’d like to add, with later goals including GIF maker improvements and more meme creation control. The sites could also still benefit from some sort of keyword search; there’s no way to search just for Zoidberg quotes, for instance. Instead, plugging “Zoidberg” into the text box returns quotes about everyone’s favorite lobster-like scientist. Not knowing exact quotes will also ding you; it pays to know that Zapp Brannigan’s pronunciation of “champagne” is technically spelled “cham-pa-gen.”
As before, though, these are just quibbles. Certainly nothing to keep you from going on an epic Morbotron bender.