Futurama: Why You Should Be Watching


Recently, quite a few animated comedies have been going through a bit of a resurgence. This is mostly due to stupid people on social media making incredibly low-effort videos on things like TikTok or Youtube Shorts. You know the ones; the ones with terrible gameplay of an awful game that was probably made in less than thirty minutes on top of a 720-pixel clip of some random show. This phenomenon had made its way through several series, such as The Simpsons, South Park, and most notably, Family Guy, which ended up becoming the most popular animated TV show of 2022 mostly because of this trend. All of these series have a few things in common, outside of sharing the same genre: all have excellent comedy, make occasional edgy jokes, and have famous phrases and/or characters that are immediately noticeable and recognizable. These shows also sometimes have the occasional unfunny joke or two, as do most comedies. One show that doesn’t have these comedic failures, while also possessing every good quality you could ask for in an animated comedy to a much larger extent than all the others, with amazing characters, writing, storylines, ingenuity, and an absolutely perfect ending, the epitome of comedy done right, is Futurama.

One of the best aspects of Futurama is how the pilot episode sets up the next ten years worth of episodes in only about twenty minutes. Without spoiling too much, the main character, Philip J. Fry (more commonly referred to as just “Fry”), was a pizza delivery boy in New York. On New Year’s Eve of 1999, he receives a prank order for someone named “I.C. Weiner” at the local cryogenics lab. Fry figures out when he arrives that it was a prank, but as it’s very late at night and almost the start of a new millennium, he decides to take a seat and down a beer while watching the countdown through a window. However, as he goes to take a drink from his can, he leans too far back and lands in a cryogenic freezing chamber, where he would remain for a thousand years. Once awoken, Fry, after a small sequence of events in which he meets the Love Interest™ (a cyclops named Leela) and the mascot/additional comic relief (an alcoholic robot named Bender), discovers that, after a thousand years, he only has one relative: his nephew, an old decrepit genius of a scientist, Dr. Hubert Farnsworth. Dr. Farnsworth runs a space delivery company and is looking for some new crew, which he mentions when he and Fry meet. Fry, Leela, and Bender agree, joining a crew made up of a Jamaican bureaucrat named Hermes, the daughter of one of the richest couples in the universe named Amy Wong, and a human-sized lobster that also happens to be a terrible surgeon named Zoidberg. Thus starts an incredibly long line of trolling and tomfoolery ranging from going to college on Mars and rooming with a genius monkey with a bowler hat just to drop out because by current standards a college dropout only knows as much as a high school dropout, to helping their resident bureaucrat “requisition his groove back,” to attempting to save the future from an apocalypse brought on by Richard Nixon being elected president of Earth, and everything in between. Just from watching this one episode, the vast majority of the rest of the show can be fully understood and their plot lines comprehended with no need to guess who certain characters are.

The setting also allows for near-infinite possibilities for episodes. The main cast is incredibly diverse and all have somewhat loosely-written backstories that allow for more elaboration during future episodes. For example, there is an entire episode centered around Fry wanting to revive his dog that has been dead for a thousand years, an episode that’s basically a massive fetch quest to find the inspector that allowed Bender to live even though he has a massive defect, and even an episode about a machine that shows what would happen in an alternate universe where a user’s “what-if” question comes true. All of this can be simply explained by the fact that humanity has progressed a thousand years past what we as watchers think is possible or impossible. This also allows for countless jokes, like a murderous robot Santa Claus that comes every X-Mas (yes, that is what Christmas is referred to as a thousand years in the future), words like “yeesh” being said as “gleesh” and “ask” being pronounced “axe,” or the fact that global warming has been warded off each year by dropping a massive ice cube into the ocean. The voice acting also makes the jokes land even harder; Dr. Farnsworth genuinely sounds like an 80-year-old senile great-grandfather, Zoidberg actually sounds like what a personified lobster would sound like, Bender sounds like an actual jerk (as he is intended to be), and Hermes’ vernacular, accent, and particular method of articulation really make him sound like the character he is portrayed as.

Finally, every show has to have a great ending that brings closure to the story as a whole while also not dragging out the overall series with too many seasons and episodes. Some TV shows have failed to do this, most notably and relevantly The Simpsons, which has been going on for 34 years and has already been renewed for at least two more seasons. Futurama, unlike other shows like South Park or Family Guy, didn’t have a stupidly long runtime. Futurama aired for ten seasons, a comparatively small number, but when it did end, it ended in the best way it could. The whole series, Fry has been in love with Leela, a plot point that never really got fully resolved until the very last episode. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, but the creators of Futurama truly went above and beyond in creating a true, actual ending. No Futurama 2: Electric Boogaloo, no Futurama: This Time It’s Personal, nothing like that. The writers for Futurama created an ending so concrete, nothing more about Futurama with the same characters or universe could exist after the final episode happened. (Scroll down if you want to know, but be warned: major spoilers ahead.)

Like many other things these days, Futurama has been overlooked and underrated for almost a decade now. The writing is excellent, the animation fits the series and its mood perfectly, the characters are endearing and perfectly voiced, every episode is funny, and the ending is perfection. Plus, with it coming out with twenty new episodes this year, you might as well understand the goings-on of peak comedy when it comes to Hulu this summer. [Ed. Note—Wait. I thought the fact that it ended was part of the good thing!] The only question left is, why aren’t you watching it right now? 

I am fully aware that you are most likely not currently watching any kind of TV while reading this. It was a joke. Not as good as anything in Futurama, but it’s something.





What other writers can you think of that would think of creating a time loop to end their series?