I know that this was really just meant to be a joke in the movie, but that makes me wonder: why seashells, and how are they supposed to work?

Three Shells

Did the writers just pick out an absurd word at random, or did they actually have something in mind that got cut from the final version?

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    Haha, he doesn't know about the three seashells. – user1129682 Jan 7 '15 at 18:46
  • I always just assumed that they were noodle implements: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NoodleImplements – Paul Johnson Jun 30 '16 at 19:14
  • Hmm. I've edited this to reflect the answer the OP accepted (e.g. how did they work) but on closer inspection, no part of the answer actually addresses what was originally asked (e.g. why seashells and not some other object). Hmm. Possibly worthy of a new question. – Valorum Oct 23 '16 at 19:30
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    @Valorum well, the "why seashells" is explained here. TL;DR - the story writer himself revealed the source being one of his friends having "a bag of seashells on his toilet as a decoration". :-) – Shadow Wizard is Vaccinating Jan 22 '17 at 13:55

Any description here is going to border on the crude and will offend at least one person out there, so here it is, in spoiler notation (don't blame me if you mouse-over it!):

The original idea the writers had was you use two shells to pull and gently extract fecal matter from your body and use the third to scrape and remove what's left. Stallone explained it here (See question 9). If one really doesn't get it, there's a diagram.

I have to add that I was disappointed with this, since it didn't use any kind of future technology. Before I read this, I always thought it would have something to do with ionic charges and attracting/repelling anything in the area that wasn't attached (such as skin and hair).

A recent interview also revealed a (rather gross) origin of the idea out-of-universe: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/nailbiter111/news/?a=112133

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    Wow, this is a way more comprehensive answer than I imagined. – Frank Pierce Nov 4 '11 at 20:10
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    Also, at the risk of being even more crude, I feel that I have to add that I would certainly have no need of an implement to extract such matter if all of the restaurants in the world were Taco Bell. – Frank Pierce Nov 4 '11 at 20:17
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    They borrowed the idea from the Flintstones. Each one has a big ol' fly inside to keep it tidy. – Major Stackings May 15 '12 at 0:37
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    @MajorStackings: Uh, thanks....Brain bleach, please? – Tango May 15 '12 at 2:12
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    Reusable seashells?! Yuck. I thought the shells were controls. One for soap, one for rinse and one for air dry. – Kyle Jones Mar 29 '13 at 4:14

At December 2014, Daniel Waters (one of the screenplay writers of the movie) was asked about the seashells in Demolition Man and gave a decent reply: (warning: graphic language used!)

"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 'Okay, I'll make something out of that'".


So, to sum this up nicely: the reason why seashells are used, and not something else, has two levels:

  1. The writer has a friend who had (maybe still have) a bag of seashells on his toilet as a decoration.
  2. When the writer called that friend to ask for ideas about future things in toilets, he was just using the toilets, thus the seashells caught his attention and he mentioned them.

Without any of those, we would have most likely gotten some boring thing like fancy bidet, which would be the obvious choice and wouldn't have raised any questions or discussions. :)

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