“Space: it seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you.”
Futurama has it all: hilarious and clever slapstick, heartfelt sentiment, and nerdy references to Star Trek, Star Wars, 8-bit video games, and even the Twilight Zone. Too bad it’s being cancelled again. In remembrance of this quirky sci-fi cartoon, here are 10 favorites from the series. Trust me, this was a toughy.
1. Space Pilot 3000
No, it’s not because it’s the first episode. Well, maybe it is, but it also introduces the cleverness of the show and what to expect out of the series. We meet Fry in the year 1999. He’s stuck at a dead end job as a pizza delivery boy. He unwittingly gets himself frozen in a cryogenic chamber and stays frozen for a thousand years. What’s funny is how totally unfazed he is by this after he wakes up. The reigning theme of this particular episode is “You gotta do what you gotta do,” but of course, what they think they have to do is not what usually ends up happening (spluh!). Except if you’re Fry. As a side note, if you hadn’t paid attention before (like me), you actually see Nibbler’s shadow just before Fry falls into the cryo tube.
2. The Series Has Landed
Fry is still figuring out just how much has changed after a 1000 years. To his dismay, the moon had been turned into some kitschy, rundown theme park. Tell me that “Whalers on the Moon” song doesn’t get stuck in your head.
3. Love’s Labours Lost in Space
In this episode, we are introduced the highly decorated, Shatner-esque Zapp Brannigan. Though renowned for his accomplishments, we quickly find out that Zapp is nothing but a sexist dimwit who sends “wave after wave of his own men” until the army of kill bots have reached their programmed kill limit. Inexplicably, Leela ends up sleeping with him anyway. Tré Kirk. Plus, we meet the crew’s newest member, Nibbler.
4. Jurassic Bark
Possibly everyone’s favorite episode of all time. The crew discovers Fry’s fossilized dog at a museum. While Fry prepares for the return of his beloved dog, Bender gets jealous and starts acting out. This episode overall is very emotional and touching. It focuses on the drama rather than comedic gags, going back and forth between flashbacks with Fry and his dog and the present-future. The revelation at the end is rather depressing: we find out that the dog never stopped waiting for Fry to come back and ends up passing away in front of Panucci’s Pizza.
5. Anthology of Interest I and II
Both very funny episodes containing nothing but what-if shorts. In the first anthology, we find out what if Bender was 500ft. tall, what if Leela was more impulsive, and what would Fry’s life be like if he was never frozen? In the second, we see what happens when Bender turns into a human (utterly gross), then Leela asks what would happen if she found her true home — only to end up getting knocked unconscious and dreaming about her version of the Wizard of Oz. Finally, we see what life would be like if the world were like a video game. Possibly the best scene in this episode is Fry defending Earth like playing the game Space Invaders, only to lose because the last ship was moving too fast. We’ve all been there, right, fellas?
6. The Luck of the Fryish
Another touching episode featuring Fry’s past in the 20th century. This time we take a look at Fry’s relationship with his older brother, Yancy. When Fry finds out that Yancy took his coveted seven-leaf clover after his disappearance and has seemingly had stellar success, the crew decides to go grave robbing to retrieve the relic. What we find out about who’s actually buried in the grave is something quite surprising and special. As a result, Fry finally lays the memories of his brother to rest as well as the clover. I won’t lie, I kinda sorta cried at the end. Shaddap!
7. Roswell That Ends Well
This is one of the funniest episodes ever. The crew inadvertently get thrown back in time to 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. There, Fry runs into his grandparents, Zoidberg gets captured and dissected, Bender gets mistaken as a UFO, and Dr. Farnsworth and Leela try to fit in. This is also where Fry does “the nasty in the pasty” and becomes his own grandfather. Bam.
8. The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings
This is the last episode before the series was cancelled the first time. Fry makes a deal with the Robot Devil to give him new hands so he can play the holophone for Leela. In an unexpected turn of events, Fry wins Robot Devil’s hands and proceeds to compose an opera that expresses his love for Leela. This was a nice send-off if it were meant to be the series finale. The sweet ending leaves a small hint to long-time fans on what may happen in the future for Fry and Leela.
9. Amazon Women in the Mood
One of my all-time favorite episodes out of the entire series. Leela and Amy go on a “half date” with Zapp and Kif. Their restaurant crash lands on a primitive planet inhabited by giant Amazon women. Plenty of sexist jokes in this one, particularly one where the Amazons explain that it’s more fun watching basketball fundamentals rather than showy dunking. Also…”DEATH BY SNOO SNOO!”
10. A Bicyclops Built for Two
This episode starts with Farnsworth finally logging onto America Online. In a virtual video game, Leela runs into someone who may possibly be the only other living cyclops. This is possibly one of my favorites merely for the fact that that we get to see Leela dressed (and act) like Peggy Bundy in a Married with Children scene.
Notice that the above is all from the show’s original run. While Comedy Central has aired some pretty good episodes, they arguably weren’t as strong. However, here are some honorable mentions:
Zapp and Leela are sent to destroy a death sphere, V-Giny, that has been destroying planets deemed too inappropriate for viewers. Leela accidentally says “Holy cr–,” thus triggering an attack from V-Giny. They crash land into a Garden of Eden-like planet where Zapp uncharacteristically nurtures and takes care of a naked Leela, who is trapped underneath a tree limb. The roundabout scenario between Zapp and Leela is all worth it at the end when V-Giny appears just after the Planet Express crew find them. It is then that V-Giny offers to spare Earth if the “Eve” and “Adam” characters consummate their relationship. This causes Fry much grief and tries to reason V-Giny out of the bargain, but he is thwarted when V-Giny declares “Approved for all audiences!”
This episode features three different styles in animation: black and white “Steamboat Mickey” style, classic 8-bit video game, and Japanese animation. Of the new episodes released by Comedy Central, this is one of the funniest ones.
3. A Farewell to Arms
This episode plays on the Mayan Doomsday everybody was so worried about last year. To ensure Earth’s inhabitants’ survival, everyone must go through a screening process to enter a ship to Mars. Leela was rejected because there already was a “highly qualified” pilot on board: Zapp Brannigan. However, Fry is accepted because they needed a delivery boy. What made me choose this particular episode is when Fry forges his own ticket to make it look like Leela’s so she can get a safe passage off the planet.
4. Attack of the Killer App
This episode parodies our obsession with social media as well as our “need” for the latest gadget. It’s also the birth of our favorite meme: