Good news, everyone. I’ve decided to share my top fifteen favorite episodes of Futurama, thanks to Sci-Fi November.
This starts with a very telling story about how much I love this damn show. On Saturday morning I planned to complete this post about my favorite episodes. To get some inspiration, I turned Futurama on Netflix and ended up binge watching the newer seasons for the rest of the day with my husband. I was so into the re-watch that I neglected to write the post. It is almost like I was doing homework to make this more accurate (I had only seen the newest seasons once each), which I’m glad I did because it reminded me of all the great episodes toward the end.
If you’ve never heard of Futurama, I’m going to put it down quickly for you. Fry, a pizza delivery boy from the year 2000, accidentally becomes cryogenically frozen for a thousand years and upon waking takes a job as — you guessed it — a delivery boy for the intergalactic Planet Express delivery company. The series follows Fry and his fellow Planet Express cohorts on adventures through the universe.
This show combines everything I love (sci-fi, comedy, satire, fully developed characters, etc. etc.) and is so clever at it. There’s equal parts laughter and tears with this show, and I cannot recommend it enough. And similar to Firefly (which I plan to blog about next), this show was treated poorly by Fox and was cancelled. Thankfully, it was later revived by Comedy Central, though three “films” were made in the meantime, and were later broken down into episodes. I’ve tried to keep my favorites down to a minimum, but still end up with a lot. What can I say, this may be my most cherished series.
Season 4, ep. 2
Opening subtitle: It’s like “Hee Haw” with lasers
One of the show’s early mysteries is the origins of the Planet Express ship’s space captain, Taranga Leela. We’re led to believe Leela is the last alien of her kind, with one eye and purple hair. This episode goes into what really transpired the day Leela was left at the Cookieville Minimum-Security Orphanarium with a note left in Alienese. In traditional Futurama spirit, this one might eek a tear or two out of you.
The Day the Earth Stood Stupid
Season 3, ep. 7
Opening subtitle: 80% Entertainment by volume
An alien race of flying brains threaten to take over earth by making everyone idiots. It turns out that Fry is the key to saving the world this time, as well as Leela’s voracious alien pet Nibbler. I did not expect the twist to this one when I first saw it, and I must say I love Nibbler even more for this episode. And yes, that is a giant brain conversing with Lizzie Bennet. You want to watch now, don’t you?
The Farnsworth Parabox
Season 5, ep. 10
Opening subtitle: Beats a Hard Kick in the Face
Professor Farnsworth creates a parallel universe box, to which he will not let anyone look inside. Finally tempted, Leela peers into the box only to fall into another universe. What makes this episode great is the different outcomes in the two universes (see the picture above). This is a simple storyline without any other subplots, but it is a great standalone.
Fun on a Bun
Season 9, ep. 8
Opening subtitle: 50% More Colors Than Bargain-Brand Cartoons
The Planet Express crew go to Oktoberfest in Germany, which is now a classy elitist affair instead of a drink-a-thon, much to Fry’s dismay. Through a zany turn of events (as usual) Fry and Leela both lose their memories of each other. I love memory stories in sci-fi, and this is a great love story for Fry and Leela. Plus, a chicken hat plays a sweet role.
Stood up by Professor Farnsworth at the Delivery Boy Awards, Fry yearns to find other relatives. The professor’s parents are indeed alive, and live on the Near-Death Star. There’s so many great aspects to this episode, such as Farnsworth’s origin story, and a great rant about The Matrix (Farnsworth’s parents are plugged into the machines as their “retirement home”). Another oddly touching story from this series. I defy you not to be overcome at the end.
I Dated a Robot
Season 3, ep. 15
Opening subtitle: No humans were probed in the making of this episode
Fry and Leela enter the internet in order to visit nappster.com and download a Lucy Liu Bot for Fry to date. As rediculous as it sounds, this episode is a clever riff on artist’s rights in the downloadable age. One of my FAVORITE one-liners is used in this episode: View Spoiler »As the Lucy Liu Bot dies, she grabs onto Fry: “I’ll always remember you. [robotic voice] MEMORY DELETED.” « Hide Spoiler
I don’t use the term feels often. But this episode will take everything in you and destroy it. I have only watched this once, and never will again. I love it, as it is a tale about Fry and his dog Seymour from the 20th Century. I’m not going to write any more about it. Just know this, I was just reading the ending synopsis and started getting tears in my eyes. And then I tried to remind my husband what it was about and started almost crying. GUYS this is the most heart-wrenching of all Futurama episodes. Well done, Futurama. Well done. I’m off to ugly cry now.
The Problem with Popplers
Season 2, ep. 15
Opening subtitle: For External Use Only
Ugh, let’s get back to something less tearful. The crew lands on a planet looking for food and find something addicting and delicious that they name Popplers. Seeing it as a cash cow, because they are so good, they begin to sell Popplers on Earth, with a disastrous outcome. This episode features the aliens Lrrr and Ndnd from Omicron Persei 8, who are two of my favorite side cast members.
A Pharaoh to Remember
Season 4, ep. 7
Opening subtitle: Psst… Big party at your house after the show!
Bender becomes a pharaoh of an alien planet, and forces Fry and Leela to become slaves with the rest of the populace in order to build him a statue a billion cubits high. The reason this episode sticks with me is because of the stupid, funny dialogue.
Leela, Fry and Bender travel to collect honey from space bees. Leela, as usual, takes interest in the baby queen, wanting to start a hive back on Earth. The bee ends up impaling Fry and nicking Leela with its poisonous stinger. This episode is fantastically trippy, as the space honey produces hallucinations, and Leela keeps seeing Fry after his death. View Spoiler »In the end, you find out Leela was in the hospital the entire time in a deep coma, and Fry was by her side pleading for her to “wake up.” That’s why she kept seeing him in her dreams. « Hide Spoiler Good for the emotion and the insane trip.
The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings
Season 4, ep. 18
Opening subtitle: See you on some other channel
Originally created as the series finale, this episode centers around Fry exchanging his hands with the devil so he can play an instrument called the holophoner (produces holograms through music) in order to impress Leela. The beauty of this episode is that Fry really is a great composer, his hands are what keep him from making beautiful music. Happily, this was not the last episode of Futurama, but it could have been a great ending.
Three Hundred Big Boys
Season 5, ep. 11
Opening subtitle: Voted “Best”
Earth President Nixon (yes, tricky Dick) gives everyone on the planet $300. Each of the crew members use thier money in different ways, with Fry attempting to buy and drink 100 cups of coffee. The delight of this episode is the little coffee cup counter that appears in the corner whenever Fry drinks a cup. And of course, what happens when Fry is able to drink that final 100th cup.
The Late Philip J. Fry
Season 6, ep. 7
Opening subtitle: If you don’t watch it, someone else will
Professor Farnsworth creates a time machine that can only go forward in time. Fry, Professor and Bender get stuck going forward in time, while Leela gets stood up by Fry for the second time in one day, despite him fully intending to meet her (but getting stuck in the time machine). The time travel science in this one, plus the saddening side story about a forever missed Fry and Leela connection, make this one of the penultimate episodes in my opinion. It has the science, it has the humor, it has the sadness that makes Futurama wonderful.
Bender’s Big Score
Full length film
Caption: It just won’t stay dead!
There’s a whole lot going on here since this is 90-minute movie instead of a 20-minute episode, but it answers many questions you didn’t even realize were unanswered in the series. The entire plot revolves around time travel paradoxes brought on by the binary code within a tattoo of Bender on Fry’s ass. There’s also Lars, the man who steals Leela from Fry, and Leelu, the narwhal that Fry goes on to care for. This is my favorite of the feature-length films, and like The Late Phillip J. Fry, everything is at its best here.
Season 4, ep. 8
Opening subtitle: Please turn off all cell phones and tricorders
Bender gets shot off into space on accident and after being struck by an asteroid, a mini civilization begins to form on him. They naturally see Bender as their god, and worship him and produce beer for him. Eventually civilization forms on his ass too, and the two nations begin to war. Bender ends up meeting the God Entity in deep space, and back on Earth, Leela and Fry try to find a way to find Bender. Hands down, my favorite episode for its perfect dilemma and execution.
There you have it. If you want to watch this series, which I hope you do, go on to Netflix and just binge them all. I’ve probably laughed at least once during every episode, and there are so many other classics that I could have included here. And as you can probably tell, I ship (har har) Leela and Fry, and with all of the cancellations this wonderful show endured there was plenty of drama to build around their relationship for fear it would be the last word. Do yourself a favor, and just start watching this show.