Mystery of the three seashells solved! Kinda

PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content Moderatora 10000+ points - Super Pooperb 9000+ pointsc 8000+ pointsd 7000+ pointse 6000+ pointsf 5000+ pointsg 4000+ pointsh 3000+ pointsi 2000+ pointsj 1000+ pointsk 500+ pointsl 100+ pointsm 1+ points - Newb

About a year ago, PoopReport tackled a question that has vexed moviegoers for years: how does one actually wipe their butt using the three seashells in Sylvester Stallone's Demolition Man?

Here's the background, as reported in PoopReport's Movie Poop-Scene Archive:

Entry #1: Sylvester Stallone plays a cop who is cryogenically frozen for some crime, then thawed out in the future to track down his nemesis, who has escaped. At one point Stallone goes for a crap and finds that they don't use toilet paper in the future. One smart-ass comments, "Maybe we should tell him what the seashells are for."

Entry #2: The previous poster forgot to mention that after the smart-ass's "three seashells" remark, Stallone gets in front of the credit fine machine and starts cussing, producing several fine credits because of violation of the verbal morality act. He uses these pieces of paper to relieve himself of trying to figure out the three seashells.

And here's a screenshot of the apparatus in question:

Despite the best efforts of the members of this site, we've found no reasonable answer to this question. But in an interview on Ain't It Cool News (question 9), Stallone himself shed some light on the issue:

Q: For the love of all that is good and Holy. How do you use the 3 seashells?!

A: OK, this may be bordering on the grotesque, but the way it was explained to me by the writer is you hold two seashells like chopsticks, pull gently and scrape what's left with the third. You asked for it... Be careful what you ask for, sorry.

There you hav-- hmm. I'm thinking about it. I'm using my imagination. I'm pantomiming it here in my desk chair. No... nope. I still don't get it.

And I'm not alone. Ignoring the bizarre physical contortions this would require, and the pain such scraping would engender, there are these concerns as outlined by an AICN commentator: "Aside from saving paper, what's the futuristic benefit? Who washes the seashells? If you don't get a perfect swipe the first time, what the hell do you do in your stall with feces-covered seashells?"

Indeed. The future is still a mystery. According to, story credit for Demolition Man go to Peter M. Lenkov and Robert Reneau, with Daniel Waters sharing screenplay credit. Some intrepid PoopReporter needs to track one of them down and ask them directly.

93 Comments on "Mystery of the three seashells solved! Kinda"

ChiefThunderbutt's picture
PoopReport of the Year AwardComment Content ModeratorComment Quality Moderatorf 5000+ points

I am an old person and I understand iPads. I have one in my undies right now to absorb leakage from my incontinent bladder. So there!!

How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you're on!

The Phantom Pooper's picture
m 1+ points - Newb

There is no explanation. The fact that it's completely, ridiculously incomprehensible is the entire point of the three seashells. It's a plot device intended to convey to the viewer that this is the fuh-yeewwww-cherrrrr and there are some things we're just not supposed to understand, the way old people just don't understand iPads and cloud computing.

Smell the wrath of the Phantom Pooper!

Anonymous's picture

With all these silly websites, such a great page keeps my iternnet hope alive.

Anonymous's picture

Best answer I've heard.

Anonymous's picture

The law in the movie forbids any food that is not good for you, spicy etc. I'm guessing everybody will eat a lot of fiber and other healthy stuff.
Maybe everybody has a clean wipe every time, seashells are for emergency use only!

Anonymous's picture

Fun theories :) Well, I've given this a lot of thought over the years (!) and I think there are a couple of things we can be sure about here...

1) A recurring theme in the film is the total avoidance of body-contact, fluid-exchange, touching anything unclean, etc, so I think we can safely assume it DOESN'T involve any kind of hands-on scooping or scraping. The button-operated bidet theory is probably the best one (vaccuum / wash / dry) as it involves zero risk of hand-contact with poop.

2) It's never explained because we, the viewers, are supposed to relate to Spartan's dilemma and be every bit as clueless about the Brave New World that Spartan finds himself in as he is. In other words: we're not supposed to know how it works, because the joke's on us too.

Presumably Cocteau remembered to give Phoenix instructions on using the 3 seashells along with all that other cryo-training - quite thoughtful of him, really :)

Anonymous's picture

Yeah? Well, I don't know about all that, but I do know that there is nothing more fun`NY than a pseudo - intellectual gloating over his victorious, self-proclaimed, "bonus point" when all the while it was eminently funnier that someone found a way to use "that utter gibberish" as an excuse to use the word "clambshelled"! LMAO !

Anonymous's picture

In a world where everything you eat is Taco Bell, all poops are perfect poops. The seashells are for scooping the poop out of the bowls to make condiments for the rat burgers.

Anonymous's picture

I believe they based this on the shell that is often found in asian bathrooms, which has never been looked into just humored. I found that in india they use mugs to spray the unclean area until clean which when you find a place with running water you use a spray hose. But the use of sea shells was more than likely similar to the mug, to forcfully splatter the water toward the unclean area until clean. Now why there are three of them? More than likely to exagerate the fact that there are shells in the bathroom. Or for the "Holy Trinity" as so thoughtfully pointed out.

Anonymous's picture

This seems to be the most logical answer to a question I have pondered for some time. After all nobody in the movie mentioned they were movable or defined what "use" meant.

Anonymous's picture

Basically the 3 seashells are seashell shaped buttons to the left of the "user". After placing your behind on the seal of the seat, You press the first sea shell button...This activates a vacuum around your arse and seat and you just let rip...When that is over and you are all empty you press the second button...Hey presto an instant spraywash and rinse. Then your arse, your genitals and the bowl are instantly rinsed...Finally the third seashell button when pressed flushes all and activates the drying process, which gently sets you up for the rest of the day...SIMPLE...

Shmaded one's picture

I would imagine that the seashells are not used at
all and that the director didnt know where to go with it once the idea started. This being because the buhday (excuse spelling, never used word in a sentance ever) presently exsists and was not advanced enough for that script. They left it to imagination and it seems to be a subject that continues to remain a topic for discussion. Im pretty sure the director really didnt think that is what the majority of people would take away from that film. Then again that could be the whole idea, leaving the public wondering.

Jimlad's picture

Once you're done squirting out turds. Clam shells open to reveal what can best be described as like a powered shoe-shine wheels that you wedge into your intimate cracky parts. Wheel one to mop, wheel two to dry, and wheel three to polish. Simples.

Butt of the Joke's picture
l 100+ points

That is an excellent point you have there, Julie. Maybe use one shell as a bowl and the other two for...uh, anybody want to help?
More people flush than they do wash their hands.

More people flush than they do wash their hands.

Julie Swain's picture

What the f**k do you do if you've got the squits??? also wouldn't you need more than 3??

Butt of the Joke's picture
l 100+ points

Pablo Varando,it is "bidet" and there are many logical explanations.Just take 10 or 15 minutes to read the comments on the thread.
More people flush than they do wash their hands.

More people flush than they do wash their hands.

Pablo Varando's picture

I think they are buttons; no one said you pick them up. It's just buttons that will make the toiler spray you (like a boddet; or however you call it).... Only logical explanation :)


Anonymous Me's picture

It seems as though that may be more unsanitary than tp. Plus, if you have a flood of people using it one after another, it would be reeeally bad.I had thought it was some weird thing about one seashell being a type of water spurt to wash the front, another to wash the back, and the third for a drying mechanism similar to a blow drier. No touch cleaning, no mess, nothing.

professer skid marks's picture

after the deed is done, a shell is selected from the shelf and used as a sort of bung to prevent the watery faeceous waste from escaping during a typical busy futuristic day eating at taco bell.

once the 'plug' is removed it's all over very quickly leaving no residue on the ring-piece.

The fact that there are three shells is to prevent the need to constantly replace them every time someone drops a deuce, because it would stink and you'd need someone hanging around the bogs all the time.

Anonymous Coward's picture

did anyone notice there is a seashell imprinted on the swear fine machine, which he eventually uses to wipe his ass?

Bobby Joe Moore 's picture

Scrape, squirt, suck! That's what I think!

demofan's picture

ok... theory: the sea shells work in 3 stages. 1st shell is a bidet (sp? it's that thing that shoots water at your privates) the 2nd shell has some other cleaning or perfuming function, and the last shell air dries. Crazy but since this is a concept that is about as graspable as the meaning of life, who knows for sure? haha.

Ryannn's picture

I've just got off the toilet from having a sh*t and while I was sitting on the toilet the thought of three sea shells came into mind. so, I decided to come on the internet and see what I could find and figure out how this futuristic arse wiping invention would work. I found this site with instructions LMAO.

the poop scoop's picture

The shells can't cover buttons that activate shooting water up the go green so they don't use water to flush their"A-hole in the future.If you remember the portion nuggets the served at Taco Hell is the same size of the 3 shells.So in the future everyone craps rabbit pellets,because they baned real food.Its like society is selling it right back at ya.Come to think about it;what do they put in the beef any way,looks the same either way you see it.Was it part of the cocktou plan to recycle it underground,flavor it and no one knows the difference.Guess with the right seasoning you can make a turd tast like chicken.Does each person have their own shells or share their crustys.Greetings,salutations and have a joy toy day Stalone:)Ps.Remember to recycle your unused pets,Taco Hell depends on it.

JJLuke77's picture

I think that ... people would clean their ass with their fingers and then scrape their hands with the seashells! XD :#

FrostyToasty's picture

Nooo noo NOOOO You take two shells to hold the cheeks out of the middle and the rest you wipe with the third. And thats the best way to use the shells.:p

Shelly moop's picture

i use 4 shells myself..... 3 was never enough..

always a clingy bit.. uhhum ^^

I'm a stupid whore's picture

I'm going to buy some.

The Pope... From TV's picture

I always thought one shell was for scraping off the bulk of the matter (look how gentle those shells look!), the next one was like an efficient futuristic bar soap you swipe along the region, and the third would be like a softer shell that would clean up the soap and extras.

Powersoak's picture

Wonderpance: The would not need wires if they were wireless remote controls.

Purveyor of Fine Turds Since 1971's picture

Well I always imagined a more futuristic sonic sounds emitted from the shells get rid of the remaining gribbins...or perhaps one secreted a fluid to clean, second one dried, and the third leaves the ol' brown starfish smelling of summer meadows or pine forests...that kind of thing. And I certainly like my explanation more than Stallone's.

Anonymous Coward's picture

"Maybe they all have perfect poops. After all, in such an enlightened society there would be no million wipers or diareah, etc. Imagine, a world united by perfect, firm, nine inch logs. Ahh, to live in that day and age."
All they eat is Taco Bell, pretty sure they get nothing but diarrhea.

Anonymous Coward's picture

The first time I saw Demolition Man, and the 3 Seashells came up, I was reminded of this joke:

A man on a plane asked the stewardess if he could use the restroom. She told him the men's room was broken, so he had to use the women's room.
Then she said, ''But don't push the W.W. button, or the P.B. button, and DO NOT push the A.T.R. button."

But of course he had to push the W.W. button, which he discovered stood for warm water (sprayed on your butt). Then he pushed the P.B. button, which stood for powder your butt. And since those two things had been so pleasant, he pushed the A.T.R. button.

He later woke up in a bright room and doctors were all around him. When he asked why he was there, they asked him if he hit the A.T.R. - automatic tampon remover - button.

The guy said, "Yes... what happened?"

The doctor said, "Your penis is on your pillow."

Anonymous Coward's picture

It would seem that the idea of a solid-stool utopia is contradictory to a future where 'all restaurants are Taco Bell.'

Bilgepump's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorh 3000+ points

Mr. Cowturd...normally, I would be horribly offended by your post, misspelling my name, among other mistakes, but you seem to have something going for you, so I'm going to let you in a not so well kept secret: I'm always right.


The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

Anomalous Cowturd's picture

Poopergirl, in congunction with Bildgepump, had it correct a few years ago. The tre shell's are merely decorativly "shells", they are buttons to control the bidet, 1-for a cleansing water jet, two for a cleansing waterjet to the... female region, the third blow dries the orifaces! Or ya take it like a man and wipe it with ya hand!

ChiliKahKah's picture
j 1000+ points

You hold one shell to your ear to hear the ocean and wish you were near the water to do the actual clean up.

Mrs. Mad Crapper's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points

Such a noble sacrafic!
I'll eat bacon to get the shits so bad I think I'm dying and declare it was in the name of research for PR!
Earth, insane asylum for the universe.

Earth, insane asylum for the universe.

Bilgepump's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorh 3000+ points

Demolition Man is on tonight on American Movie Classics (AMC) I'm going to study this intently, once again.

I hate Sly Stallone, and Wesley "Tax Evader" Snipes isn't one of my favorites either...but, for PR...I'll do it.


The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

Mrs. Mad Crapper's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points

Especially us. You should register spinster, we could always use a few more ladies on here.
Earth, insane asylum for the universe.

Earth, insane asylum for the universe.

Bilgepump's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorh 3000+ points

Welcome to you...enjoy yourself, and remember, don't take any of this, or us, too seriously.


The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

"One of the founding members of the Front Page Hyena Pack, and runs as its alpha male when the urge strikes him, which is often." Daphne (one perceptive chick)

Anonymous Coward's picture

I haven't laughed so hard in years....and I'm a 64 year old spinster who just happened upon this page....

Bring on the bidets!

It floated past me's picture

Some of these comments are funny, some are a little disgusting, and some are just plain scary.

Seems to me like it would be that the shells are 3 buttons.
1st button-Flush
2nd button-Water Jet
3rd button-Air Jet

Doesn't deem like it should be all that complicated of an idea.

Filecabi's picture

I think the shells are used to scrape the remains out of your underpants

I think on the bog too's picture

The most sanitary solution would obviously not include using the shells to manually remove excreta from anywhere, esp from sensitive bits of ones anatomy, that "pinching the roid" comment gave me leg cramps!!!

So, that said, the "buttons to control the perfect bidet" theory?

Hell yes!! We'd be more regular if that was available but we're all pretty full of it... or we would be if the thing malfunctioned and sprayed contentents of bowel upwards instead of flushing away before commencing with the bidet function.


El Scumbag's picture
k 500+ points

Not many people know this, but I have it on good authority that there was a section of the story deleted from the film, after the happy ending when Sly and Bullock kiss and he asks her about the sea shells.

She tells him that the shells are hinged and if he lifts the edges there will be labelled buttons underneath which will make it self-explanatory.

Sly sits down, empties his arse noisily and lifts up the first shell. Sure enough there is a button labelled "WW". He presses it and a jet of warm water squirts against his beshitted hoop, washing away the detritus in a very pleasant manner. He lifts the second shell and the button is labelled "WA". He presses it and a blast of warm air dries his anus very pleasantly. Under the next shell is a button labelled "ATR" which he presses, and the scene then cuts to 3 days later when Sly wakes up in a hospital bed, with Sandra beside him looking very apologetic.
"How are you feeling John Spartan?" she croaks. "What do you remember?"
"Duh...I'm not sure...I feel numb from the waist down..." he replies. "I remember pressing the WW button and it washed my butt with warm water, then the WA button, and I got warm air..."
"Then you pressed ATR?" she enquired, horrified. "John Sparton, did nobody tell you that the toilets in the 21st century are unisex?"
"ATR stands for Automatic Tampon Removal. By the way, your penis is in the jar next to your bed."

Anonymous Coward's picture

They talked about this on some dvd commentary I heard a few years ago. The shells are actually buttons, pressing the first shell removes surface level poo from the ass, pressing the second shell washes your ass skin and pressing the final shell sanitizes and dries the ass. It's all built into the toilet itself and the entire room is self sanitizing. Also the shells detect how you touch them, so you feel like you are in control of the sensations your ass is experiencing, instead of being defiled by a robot.

The only other thing they said about it on the commentary was that besides the three sea shells nothing else had changed with the plumbing or basic mechanics of the bathrooms in the future.

Oh, and it wasn't the Demolition Man commentary, it was for some other cheesy movie, one of the writers of that movie worked on Demolition Man as one of their first jobs.

Ag 2011's picture

according to john the anonymous coward, it sounds like we've got a schrodinger's cat theory on our hands.

Mrs. Mad Crapper's picture
Comment Quality Moderatorj 1000+ points

as I was reading ole Sly's comment I thought of his garbled voice trying to explain it. Habandn fansnd mamidns Adrian!
Oops I did it again, I shit when I fart, I crapped in my pants.

Earth, insane asylum for the universe.

Cydonos's picture

It's simple: Seashell 1 disintegrates the fecal matter using force field technology, seashell 2 heat-sanitizes, seashell 3 deodorizes. Just wave each one across your messy ass (in the correct order, for the love of god!)