This week TV viewers said goodbye to the sci-fi comedy extravaganza Futurama. Cancelled by Fox in 2003 before being brought back by Comedy Central in 2008, fans of the show have the painful experience of saying farewell twice to a much beloved, yet underrated show. In the wake of the finale, let’s look back at the episodes that turned casual watchers into devout fans.
Over a decade after this episode aired for the first time, fans of the show are still reaching out for their tissue boxes. The episode tells the story of how Fry rediscovers the fossilized remains of his dog back when was still living in the 20th Century. The episode’s infamous ending, which is arguably one of the saddest conclusions to any TV episode ever, shows just how capable Futurama can be at tugging at your heartstrings. Even if you consider yourself the manliest of the manly men (or women), you will use every facial muscle to fight back those tears.
“Roswell That Ends Well”
Time travel, grandfather paradoxes, and doing the “nasty in the pasty” are central to the plot of this episode that essentially sets up a whole slew of other storylines that have become part of the Futurama mythology. The episode is a perfect showcase of how Futurama balances gut-wrenching humor, emotional content, scientific hodgepodge, and geeky topics in a paltry 21-minute episode.
“The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings”
While this week’s final episode marked a fitting and conclusive decrescendo to the series, Futurama would have left on a perfectly high note if it had originally ended with “The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings” back in 2003. Fry, Leela, and Bender strike a deal with the Robot Devil and it all ends with a well-orchestrated opera which has every major character singing their lines. The episode left with a bittersweet moment as Fry and Leela’s relationship took a step forward, leaving fans wondering what will happen next… until five years later.
“Luck of the Fryish”
How the writers of Futurama can pen episodes that can make grown men cry tears of laughter for most of the show, yet reduce them an emotional wreck by the ending is beyond comprehension. Watching Fry blindly embark on a quest to retrieve his lucky “seven-leafed” clover is cleverly conceived, switching between the past and the present to hilariously illustrate how badly Fry’s luck has turned for the worse. But it’s only until the very end when the truth is finally revealed that the show sucker punches you in the gut with a very emotional family moment.
“War Is the H-Word”
Where to begin with an episodes riddled with such comedic high points? First, the crew of the Planet Express go to war with the “Brain Balls” (aptly named because they have a lot of brains, and a lot of chutzpah). Second, the show deftly pays homage to M.A.S.H., Starship Troopers, and Stripes. Then, they play with Zapp Brannigan’s sexuality when he becomes attracted to a cross-dressing Leela. But the episode’s memorable moment has to be Zapp’s David Letterman-esque countdown of Bender’s Top 10 Most Utterly Used Words.
“Anthology of Interest II”
Futurama‘s second attempt of compiling a trio of short stories showed just how creative the writers can be with pop culture references. “I, Meatbag” is an obvious nod to Isaac Asimov and ponders what would life be like if Bender were human. The robot’s hedonistic tendencies is comedic gold, as well as his disturbingly glorious end. “Raiders of the Lost Arcade” taps into the video game culture of the ’80s as Fry imagines what life would be like if it were more like game of Space Invaders. Lastly, “Wizzin'” is a straight-up parody of The Wizard of Oz and shows what it would be like if Leela found her home.
“Amazon Women in the Mood”
It’s amazing how a simple half-hour show can have such a sprawling plot. The episode starts with Kif and Zapp Brannigan attempting to set a double date with Amy and Leela, and ends up with most of the Planet Express crew trapped in a planet inhabited by giant Amazon women who just need a little love. Zapp’s channeling William Shatner while singing karaoke, the guys laughing at the idea that women’s basketball is better than men’s basketball, and watching the simultaneous pained and ecstatic faces of Zapp and Fry at the prospect of death by “snu snu” are just a few highlights in an episode brimming with funny moments.