Futurama is an animated comedy sitcom created by Matt Groening (the mastermind behind The Simpsons) and writer David X. Cohen (the chief nerd in The Simpsons writing room), following the life of Phillip J. Fry, a pizza delivery boy accidentally frozen on New Year's Eve in 1999. He wakes up 1000 years into the future, shocked to see a retro-futuristic New New York, and finds a job at Planet Express, an interplanetary delivery company (just without the pizza).
Groening has said that the 31st century setting has given him "a lot of leeway" on the show's creative process. And as such, Futurama has set the Guinness World Record for "Current Most Critically Acclaimed Animated Series." It is also the only television series to feature its own mathematical theorem.
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The Planet Express crew
- Phillip J. Fry - The main protagonist. A lazy, yet lovable everyman, his relationship with Leela is one of the primary story arcs in the series. He is the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great uncle of Professor Farnsworth, and can do the Hustle.
- Turanga Leela - The one-eyed, stubborn space pilot that everyone who has ever watched the show has wanted to have sex with.
- Bender Bending Rodríguez - A violent, booze-fueled robot who often commands people to "Bite [his] shiny metal ass!"
- Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth - Fry's senile, elderly nephew, and a cheerfully amoral Mad scientist who prefaces all declarations - be they good, bad, neutral, or completely irrelevant - with "Good news, everyone!"
- Dr. John A. Zoidberg - Incompetent doctor (for humans). Also an extraterrestrial lobster.
- Hermes Conrad - The token Jamaican. Sweet three-toed sloth of ice planet Hoth!
- Amy Wong - Planet Express's promiscuous resident intern. Originally portrayed as a stereotypical "dumb blonde," she is later revealed to be highly intelligent, eventually receiving a doctorate in Applied Physics. Hails from Mars and is Kif Kroker's wife/fonfon ru/whatever.
- Scruffy - The janitor, who only pops into episodes occasionally and is seen reading endless amounts of porn in his spare time. Was once intimate with a wash bucket.
- Lord Nibbler - Leela's cat-like pet, later revealed to be a high-ranking member of the Nibblonians, a hyper-intelligent ancient species which witnessed the Big Bang and has since sought to protect the universe from harm. Poops dark matter.
- Cubert Farnsworth - The Professor's pompous and annoying cloned son, he often points out logical fallacies made by the rest of the crew. The writers deliberately created him to be as annoying as humanly possible.
- Planet Express Ship-The ship used by Planet Express to make deliveries. It does not move through space; instead, its engines move the universe around it. The ship was named "Bessie" in the year 3013.
Other notable characters
- Zapp Brannigan - The hilariously incompetent Shatner-esque general of the Democratic Order of Planets, Brannigan continues to try and seduce Leela to no avail.
- Kif - Zapp's second in command. He may have the worst job on primetime television.
- Mom - CEO of the dreaded MomCorp, a multi-billion dollar industrial complex that competes with Planet Express on package delivery. Reminiscent of the Iron Bitch, but with a prodigious smoking habit and without a British accent.
- Dr. Ogden Wernstrom - Farnsworth's nemesis in the field of science. Wernstrom!
- Lrrr - Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8. Has really bad cable service. See also Morbo
- The Donbot and Clamps - Combine 'don' and 'bot'.
- Tricky Dick's head - Since Season 2, has been President of Earth (the Vice-President
iswas the headless body of Spiro Agnew; was just recently replaced by Tricky Dick No. 2No wait, Agnew's still alive) His first rule by decree was to attach himself onto a giant death robot and rampage across Washington D.C., destroying part of the White House in the process. Nixon's baaaaaaack.
- The Hypnotoad - Wait, why the hell is this even he-ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD
Contributions to humanity
As with most animated comedy today, Futurama parodies pop culture to supplement its main plot. However, it is especially notable for giving viewers constant nerdgasms, poking fun at:
- Organized religion
- His noodly appendage
- Deals with various deities
- The awesomeness of evolution
- Differential equations
- Schrödinger's cat
- Quantum mechanics
- The Periodic Table
- Old Mentos experiments
- Symbiotic parasites
- Fox News
- Anti-piracy legislation
- The Twilight Zone
- The Roman Empire
- Nazi Germany
- Correct definitions of irony (That's not ironic, it's just coincidental!)
- Neutral point of view
- The Chamber of Understanding
- The actual benefits of coffee
...and many more.
Entire episodes have been devoted to topics such as feminism ("Amazon Women in the Mood," and eco-feminism in Into the Wild Green Yonder), environmentalism ("A Big Piece of Garbage," "The Problem with Popplers," "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz"), global warming ("Crimes of the Hot", featuring Al Gore), gay marriage ("Proposition Infinity"), the Trekkie phenomenon ("Where No Fan Has Gone Before"), intelligent design ("A Clockwork Origin"), the birther movement ("Decision 3012"), parallel universes ("The Farnsworth Parabox"), time travel and its resulting paradoxes ("The Late Philip J. Fry", "Time Keeps on Slippin'," "Roswell that Ends Well," Bender's Big Score, etc.), Möbius strips ("Möbius Dick"), and brilliant philosophical tales on God's existence ("Godfellas"), politics ("A Head in the Polls"), and war ("War is the H-Word").
Many in Futurama's production staff have top-notch academic credentials (Cohen, in particular, has a BSc in physics and a MS in computer science), while intellectuals like MC Hawking make frequent guest appearances.
renewal more cancellation
In 2003, the brainless drones at Fox cancelled the series after only four seasons, complaining about poor ratings (in reality, Mr. News of the World's kiddies were playing around with the timeslots, making it difficult to see any of the new episodes anyway. This is also why Family Guy had poor ratings.) Reruns were played on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block while the show's online fanbase continued to spike, and in 2006, Comedy Central announced the production of four straight-to-DVD fil-Shut up and take my money!
By June 2010, Futurama was beginning its 6th season and second official run on the new network. Critics were mixed to generally positive, praising specific episodes while comparing others to the quality of Season 1. However, in 2013 it was placed on the chopping block yet again. With an even larger cult following and the cast and crew willing to stay on for as long as biologically possible, who knows where it will go next?
"We're back, baby!" Yet another revival emerged in July 2023, courtesy of Hulu, though the voice actor who plays Bender initially refused to join unless he and his colleagues got better pay. They bent to his will.
Futurama has been known to cause fully grown men to cry in the following episodes (ordered by date of airing):
- "Parasites Lost"
- "Luck of the Fryrish"
- "Time Keeps On Slippin'"
- "Leela's Homeworld"
- "Love and Rocket"
- "Jurassic Bark"
- "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings"
- Bender's Big Score
- "Lethal Inspection"
- "The Late Philip J. Fry"
- "Game of Tones"
RationalWiki suggests keeping a box of tissues nearby. We are not kidding.
- Zapp Brannigan quotes Trump — Nixon's back! Aroo!
- Got Futurama?
- The Infosphere, for anything you need to know about the series
- The amazing Billy West
- I'm gonna go make my own world record, with blackjack! And hookers!
- Excluding the black hair.
- Still a better love story than Twilight.
- "When Aliens Attack," Season 1.
- When you have writers that haven't written 30-minute episodes for over six years, what do you expect?