Origin for one of the oddest sci-fi movie ideas revealed: Demolition Man's 3 seashells

Contributed by
Dec 9, 2014

Demolition Man is a weird movie for many reasons. But the one thing people are still talking about is from a scene that is centered around the toilet. FOR GOOD REASON.

Let's set the stage for a second, because it is entirely possible that you, dear reader, are entirely unfamiliar with the two-decades-old sci-fi actioner Demolition Man.

It's 1993, and Sylvester Stallone is still carrying some action cred from his Rocky/Rambo days, but he's suffering from the diminishing returns of movies like Cliffhanger and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Stallone's still a theatrical draw, so he's cast as the lead, but Demolition Man needs an up-and-comer to play the villain. Enter Wesley Snipes, who  is, as of 1993, very popular with action movie audiences.

Also, as it happens, the film's producers cast a relative unknown, Sandra Bullock, as the ingenue/cop sidekick. Remember, Speed is still a year away, so the only thing people know Bullock from is Love Potion No. 9, and even then that's only because that movie was being broadcast on local TV stations on the cheap.

Did I mention Denis Leary is also in this movie? Because he is, playing the unwilling savior of mankind. Really. 

So you might think that any of these facts would be the most memorable thing about Demolition Man. But no. Not even close.

It must be the plot then, right? The story of a cop, Stallone, who accidentally aids a lifelong criminal, Snipes, in killing a number of innocents, thus causing both of them to be placed into cryo-stasis until the year 2032. Certainly a story about two men out of time fighting to the death in the midst of a false utopia where Stallone has been programmed to be good at knitting and Snipes is blond would be why a lot of people remember Demolition Man, right?


Here's the scene everyone remembers:

That's right -- in the future, everyone uses three seashells instead of TP to, ya know, clean up back there. What? How?

Now, in the time since Demolition Man's release, many people have offered up theories on how the seashells work. I can't link the most popular theory because it's gross, but Google at your leisure. It's pretty much exactly what you think it is.

The real question, though, is where did the idea come from? Screenwriter Daniel Waters was asked this very question at a screening for The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, which is celebrating its own 25th anniversary. According to reddit user uncleluke2 this is what Waters had to say:

I won't tell you the actual secret, but I'll tell you where it came from. There's a scene where Stallone has to use a restroom. I'm trying to come up with futuristic things you'd find in there. I was having trouble, so I called my buddy, another screenwriter across town, asked him if he had any ideas. Ironically enough that guy was taking a dump when he answered the phone, looked around his bathroom and said 'I have a bag of seashells on my toilet as a decoration?' I said 'Ok, I'll make something out of that.'

And now you know the truth. The arbitrary, ridiculous truth. Do you regret it, or was this the burning question that you've needed the answer to for the last two decades?

(via Comic Book Movie)

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