Despite being a robot (and, for that matter, a Jerkass), Bender is not immune to this. He's been known to save his friends on several occasions (even in the absence of a cash prize), and remains doggedly loyal to Fry to the point of mutilating his antennae (robot equivalent to genitalia) just to remain his roommate.
Seeing the little subtitles on the theme song's title card again. It's like coming home...
[adult swim] honored Futurama with an In Memoriam bumper after its second cancellation. Clearly, the folks over on that block remember how the show helped them get off to a great start.
Fry being renamed Phillip and Billy West's performance as Zapp Brannigan being one large tribute to the late Phil Hartman.
From the pilot:
Fry: Wait, you're the only friend I have!
Bender: You really want a robot for a friend?
Fry: Sure. Ever since I was six.
A minor one from "I, Roommate". What was the one thing from Fry's bigger apartment that he took with him when moving back to Bender's place? The mini-fruit tree Leela gave him. A bigger one is Bender's line, "You know, Fry, of all the friends I've had, you're the first."
The entirety of "Fear of a Bot Planet". Bender becomes disgruntled when he perceives the unequal treatment of robots in society, and when he gets apprehended by a society of human-hating/fearing robots on a delivery, he joins them instead. Fry and Leela, despite the aggravation of Bender's jerkishness, still go out to rescue him, not knowing he'd joined the robot society. When Fry and Leela catch up to him, he begs for them to go away, but when all three are discovered by the robots, Fry and Leela are apprehended. Bender manages to save them, and on the return trip, the three of them throw the Robanukah party Fry and Leela had been preparing while Bender was gone to make the delivery; they do this despite Fry and Leela knowing that Bender made the holiday up to get out of working. Perhaps due to Early Installment Weirdness, the characters still don't display all of the quirks they'd exhibit in later episodes, but there was no doubt that Fry, Leela, and Bender were close friends from a very early point in the show, and this episode really cemented it.
A small one from "A Flight to Remember" after the Countess falls into the black hole, Fry comforts Bender by telling him that no-one knows what happens within a black hole, and it's possible that she survived.
He even asks Professor Farnsworth for his thoughts on the matter, who agrees with Fry that it is possible the Countess survived. He then turns to Zoidberg and mutters "Not a chance" but the fact he was willing to lie to spare Bender's feelings was pretty sweet.
There was also the scene where Bender was telling Fry he was going back for her. (Note that Fry hadn't even been part of that plot, so Bender had just been telling Fry simply because they were best friends) At Bender's request, Fry agrees to tell the others that Bender died looting should he not make it. Bender hugs Fry and says "I love you, buddy!"
This small exchange from "My Three Suns"
Bender: Look, I don't like you, and you don't like me—
Leela: I like you.
Bender: You do?
"How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back"
Grade 19 Morgan Proctor: He was a bad robot.
Fry: No, he was a bad friend. I demand that you give Bender back right now!
The Professor's random idea to breed "some sort of albino shouting gorilla" to shout his love for Mom from rooftops turns into one of these moments when he actually does, at the end of "Mother's Day".
In "Why Must I be A Crustacean In Love", a Not What It Looks Like situation results in Fry and Zoidberg fighting to the death. When he's about to issue the killing blow, Fry stops, and tells the Decapodians that while he doesn't have the right to criticize their stupid traditions, he can't kill Zoidberg because he's his friend, and nothing can stop that. Later on, after the usual Mood Whiplash occurs, Zoidberg thanks Fry for the chance to feel human emotions, such as love, jealously, and the thrill of disembowling people.
In "Parasites Lost", Fry is transformed by beneficial worms into a paragon, being so talented he's even able to play the holophonor (which only a few people were previously able to do...and they did that badly), using his new abilities to win Leela's heart. After the Reset Button is pushed (for a very understandable reason), as the strength, wisdom, intelligence, and creativity leaves him, he nonetheless manages to play it one last time, for himself, creating an image of Leela along with an almost worshipful chord.
The ending of "Luck of the Fryrish", where Fry, after spending the episode thinking his brother Yancy hated him his whole life and stole his name after he was frozen, attempts to steal back his rare seven-leaf clover from what he assumes is Yancy's grave. As it turns out, Yancy gave his son the name Philip J. Fry out of love for and in memory of his brother. Cue tears. And awesomely appropriate music.
Some Fridge-Heartwarming, when you realise that the real reason Yancy always copied everything Fry did wasn't because he was jealous, but because he absolutely hero-worshipped his little brother.
Another very subtle one: Fry's parents seem pretty apathetic about his disappearance. However, on Yancy's wedding day it is revealed that they kept all his stuff exactly as he left it. Even though his mother speaks of it in a somewhat dismissive tone ("your brother may be missing, but his crap sure isn't"), the fact that they left everything exactly as it was before Fry got frozen indicates that they were more distraught about his disappearance than they let on.
Fry in "Time Keeps on Slippin'", moving the stars themselves as a romantic gesture, and Leela never knows.
"Godfellas": "Sure wish I had Bender back...wish I had Bender back...wish I had Bender back..."
In "The Cyber House Rules", Bender adopts twelve orphans hoping to sell them to make a profit. At the end, he returns them to the Orphanarium, and they give him a picture of him smoking a candy cane as a reminder. Bender acts disgusted, but when he thinks no one's looking, frames the picture on the inside of his door. Cue twelve overjoyed orphans.
Surprisingly, despite his role as the resident Butt Monkey, even Zoidberg gets one in "That's Lobstertainment!". After making a disastrous attempt at a film with his uncle, silent hologram star Harold Zoid (each of them under the impression that the other one is their ticket out of despair), Calculon (the film's benefactor & co-star) forces them to rig the Oscars so he can win under threat of death. Just as Zoidberg is about to announce Calculon as the winner, he looks over at his uncle and announces him as the winner. Then his uncle gives his acceptance speech:
Harold Zoid: "What really matters in life is that people care about you. Whether it's a whole crowd —"
(looks at Zoidberg)
Harold Zoid: "— or just one die-hard fan."
In "Leela's Homeworld", where Leela meets her biological parents who turn out to be mutant humans living in the sewers, there's a flashback montage at the end of the episode showing how they've anonymously helped her and watched over her all along. Even Bender is touched.
Leela's father: We didn't want you to know the truth.
Leela's mother: You must despise us.
Leela: How could you say that? You're my parents! (group hug and tearful reunion ensues)
Earlier in the episode, Fry comes across Leela sobbing alone in the locker room.
Fry: If those aren't tears of joy, please stop crying.
He may be an idiot, but he's one of the most genuinely nice characters on the show.
A blink-and-you-miss-it one, when Leela's about to kill her then in-disguise parents (she thinks they were evil mutants who killed her parents and they let her think that because they didn't want her to learn that she was a mutant), the two of them can be seen holding hands as they await their impending death.
The end of "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", the show's original final episode: Fry sits dejectedly, alone in the theatre after the opera he tried to perform is ruined and with the knowledge that he'll never be able to perform one ever again. He looks up and sees Leela, the one he did it all for, still in her seat:
"Please don't stop playing, Fry. I want to hear how it ends."
And the way it ends? Fry summons up the skill to play one little coda - a crude and less accomplished, but clearly heartfelt, image of Leela and Fry. They kiss and, holding hands, walk into the sunset together. Awww.
Bender actually managed one earlier in the episode, when taking Fry to his recital.
"You know, sometimes I wish your real parents were still alive. (hugs Fry) Not often though."
Which, in a way only Futurama can do, manages to be both heartwarming, and completely hilarious.
And in a tragic, but simultaneously heartwarming bit, the reason Fry loses his ability to finish the opera was because if he didn't give up the Robot Devil's hands, Leela would be forced to marry the Devil. And the reason Leela made the deal at all? She was ashamed that Fry went to the trouble to write such a wonderful opera for her, and she couldn't even hear it for him.
The ending of "Jurassic Bark". If it takes forever, I will wait for you... It's sweet that Fry remembers him and that his dog remembers him, so it does feel heart-warming, but it's also devastatingly sad.
The ending when Fry was watching over Leela who was at the hospital, fighting for her life. She appreciated it. Aww.
The part of "The Sting" where Bender says "All those times I'd say 'Kill all humans,' I'd always whisper '...except one.' Fry was that one, and I never told him so!" is both hilarious and heartwarming (although it technically didn't happen).
If one takes it as how Leela believes Bender would react to Fry's death, it's still heartwarming because for all of Bender's Jerkass tendencies, he still shows a demonstrable amount of affection for Fry.
Fry: "You've got to be more careful Leela. I don't want anything to happen to you." Leela: "That's so sweet Fry, but don't worry, nothing's going to happen to me."
In the episode "Love and Rocket", when Leela learns that Fry had connected his oxygen supply to Leela's mask after hers ran out, she tries to resuscitate him. He coughs and spits out a candy heart, which sticks to her cheek. She takes it off and reads, "You leave me breathless." Cue awwwww.
Zoidberg gets a quick, minor one at the end of the episode. He humorously narrates the effect of the candy-causing radiation and the romantic side effects of couples on Earth, then obliviously interrupts Fry's and Leela's own romantic moment with a big hug. After a second of hesitation, both hug him back.
In the episode "The Why of Fry", Leela is still a bit irritated with her former date (the mayor's aide), but softens up when Fry brings her a simple flower.
Leela: You know what, Fry? I don't care if you're not the most important person in the universe; it really makes me happy to see you right now.
Fry(smiling): Then I am the most important person in the universe.
What makes this even better is the way he says it. It's the same tone someone would use for something like, "Of course. Didn't you know?"
In "Three Hundred Big Boys", Zoidberg spends the whole episode trying to find something emotionally satisfying to spend his money on. What does he ultimately decide to do with it? Spend it on a turkey dog feast for a group of homeless people.
Hell, you know it's heartwarming when even Mom decides to join in with them.
Judge Whitey: You're never too rich for a free turkey dog!
(The rest of the group comments happily and joins them)
Mom: Awww, what the hell! (joins the table)
It was reminiscent of Pogo - the wacky adventures of the day end with everybody sitting down to a meal.
Amy reaffirming her feelings for Kif as he gives birth to their babies towards the end of "Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch". Even though she feels she's too young to take on the responsibilities as a mother of a dozen or so of little alien tadpole-like children, it's her love for Kif that allows her to complete the birth rites with him.
There's also something subtly heartwarming about the fact that everyone helps Kif get to his ancestral spawning grounds. Even Zapp picks up a machete and chops a path through the swamp.
"Crimes of the Hot" Bender's love for the turtles. Upon finding out that the pollution created by robots is causing global warming, which is endangering the turtles, Bender goes to what he knows is a trap, because, as he puts if, after being willing to kill for so many things, he's finally found something he's willing to die for.
Season 5 (Movies)
Watch "Bender's Big Score". Fry went to the past, and through a series of events, he made a time-parodox copy of himself while he went back to the future. The copy went on living in the past, including spending time with his dog Seymour...until Bender blew up the pizza parlor, fossilizing him instantly.
The ending of Into the Wild Green Yonder: "Fry, maybe I waited too long to say this, but...I love you too." Just before that: Paraphrased: "I don't need a reason, you're you."
According to Fry's mind-reading powers, Hermes finds Zoidberg "pathetic, but lovable". Considering his usual treatment of Zoidberg, that's saying something.
Getting ready to search for Bender. "Everyone take a shovel, and one sixth of the planet! We'll meet back here in 50 years, our bodies broken and our lives wasted." Now that's commitment.
The history of Lars in "Bender's Big Score".
"Wait for me, Leela! I'll be there in a thousand years!"
Consider that Bender was forced to kill Fry in "Bender's Big Score" and thought he succeeded in 2012, and was still mourning about it 998 years later.
Not to mention Fry reminding him of their friendship was the one time Bender tried to resist the obedience virus.
The scene in "The Beast with a Billion Backs" where Bender begs Fry to take him into "Heaven" qualifies, as does "Humans like cabbage ... Right?"
The fact that Bender was willing to lead an army to take on Heaven itself, just because he didn't want to lose Fry.
Hell, the movie ends with Bender hugging Fry and Leela and saying "I love you meatbags!"
Igner and Professor Farnsworth have a sweet moment at the end of "Bender's Game".
Farnsworth: Can I give my boy a hug?
Not to mention the genuine caring in the Professor's voice earlier in the movie when he said "well you can always talk to me about anything, Fry".
A rather unexpected one in the episode "The Duh-Vinci Code".
Fry: I may not be clever, but I have a good heart. That's what my mom used to say.
Farnsworth: She was a wise woman.
Even moreso when you realize that Fry's mother is also Farnsworth's great-great(+1)... great grandmother. And then spins straight into Crowning Moment of Funny.
Fry: She also said I wasn't much to look at.
Farnsworth: A wise woman indeed.
Hermes Conrad, bureaucrat, gets one in "Lethal Inspection". He gave Bender a chance at life. And that episode gets even better when you realize that when Bender said #5 looked at him with (good) tears in his eyes, he was right. And, of course, yet another musical montage.
Fridge Brilliance when you realize it makes "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back" the second time Hermes has saved Bender's life. When Bender says Hermes is now part of his "Do-Not-Kill List". This is a strange compliment, but it still makes Hermes smile.
Hermes has made several comments over the series to really hating Bender. (Which makes sense, he's a super anal want everything in their place kind of guy and Bender LOVES messing shit up and being generally useless.)
"The Late Philip J. Fry", specifically the Fry/Leela angle. Much of the episode has small crowning moments of heartwarming, but the whole episode builds up to a colossal one when Leela finds out that it wasn't Fry's fault that he disappeared, and she carves a message for him to find telling him that their time was short, but it was the best time of her life. The message Fry leaves for Leela in her birthday card is equally sweet, particularly the "I love you." And when Fry finds the message, he decides that he's had a full life, and suggests that he, Bender and Farnsworth should just sit back with a sixpack and watch the universe end. And subsequently restart again.
It might have ended with Bender being a huge jerk as usual, but you have to admit that while it lasted, the interactions between Amy and Bender in "Proposition Infinity" were really sweet. Seriously, the only deal-breaker for Bender was that their marriage was going to be monogamous! If not for that, Bender would have probably really committed!
"The Mutants Are Revolting": Leela, who loved Fry when he was in Zoidberg's body, can't get over what he looks like after he dove into the mutating sewer muck, but admits this:
Leela: Fry, this is the sweetest, stupidest thing you've ever done.
From that same episode; the revelation that Mr. Astor, seeing that one of the mutant labourers had a child, wordlessly gives up his seat on the escape pod for the two of them, and waves them off with a tip of his hat and a smile. It turned out to be Leela's grandmother and her great grandmother that survived.
Mrs. Astor, who had spent the whole episode being antagonistic towards mutants, is so overjoyed to see her heavily mutated husband alive that she unhesitatingly embraces him.
The Mayor of NNYC going "sure, why not" to the idea of letting mutants live on the surface.
In "Rebirth," this moment between Fry and Leela is among the heartwarming-est of them all...
Fry: I love Leela, always and forever. And if I loved Robot Leela, too...well, it's only 'cause she had so much of real Leela in her. I thought she loved me, too, but obviously I was wrong as usual.
Leela: Wrong again. You were right.
In the episode where the alien giant is engulfed in the Bender clones. In his first appearance, he is mocked for being ugly, and went berserk when Fry accidentally insulted his mother, and seeing him get this one moment of being gorgeous was breathtaking.
Giant: At last I'm beautiful...
A reused one but poignant nonetheless, in "Ghost in the Machines" Bender as a ghost, after realizing that Fry is the only entity to ever praise Bender or hold affection towards him, follows him around, tries to help him in his endeavors, (in spite of his non-corporeal form) praises Fry's shoddy baking and even tries to hug him. Let's restate that for candidacy. Bender tries to hugFry.
And let us not forget Bender's dramatic "I LOVE YOU" as he's saving Fry from imminent death.
Bender lying at the foot of Fry's bed like a contented dog. Too sweet.◊
"It's on me, Johnny."
Followed by Zoidberg and the Professor sandcrabbing out of the Planet Express headquarters, doing their best "Woop woop woop!"
Before there, there was Mom's respectful treatment of Zoidberg. Apparently he's the only one she treats nicely.
Zoidberg giving up literally everything of worth that he owned in order to save the Professor's life. That goes beyond friendship. Who wouldn't want to have a friend like Zoidberg?
A smaller one from the same episode: Zoidberg's reaction to Farnsworth calling him a loyal friend for the first time.
The whole end of "Cold Warriors".
Yancy Sr: "You still haven't thanked me for pullin' you outta the lake, soldier."
Fry: "I could'a flip-flopped out."
Yancy Sr.: "I know that. ...Look, son. I know I give you the business sometimes, but if I'm hard on you; It's only 'cause I want you to grow up strong, and resilient. Someday, you may face adversities so preposterous, I can't even conceive of them. But I know you'll pull through and make me proud. ...I love you, son."
The ending of "Overclockwise". While Bender was still super-intelligent, he wrote down how Fry and Leela's on-and-off relationship would end. Although we don't see or hear any of it while they silently read it, they go through a range of emotions. And when they reach the end, their happy smiles as they look into each others' eyes/eye says it all.
All other lists that Bender made could have been used for entirely selfish reasons (like when ceiling lights are going to fall) except for this one gesture of which he asked nothing in return.
Bender's relationship with Ben in "The Bots And The Bees".
When Ben says he'll never be able to bend, Bender's response, "You need something bended you come to me," just says it all.
Not to mention Leela continually telling Bender what a good father he is.
In "A Farewell to Arms" Leela states that while Fry fails at noble gestures of love, he's the only person in her life who cares enough to make them. Then we cut to their severed arms in space, somehow now floating off hand in hand.
A minor one from "The Thief of Baghead" is the Professor rushing to save Zoidberg from having his life force removed, taking into account their history in "The Tip of the Zoidberg".
Another example of Zoidberg's incredible loyalty comes in "The Six Million Dollar Mon", where Hermes is having himself upgraded with mechanical parts so he can be more efficient. Zoidberg asks for the "leftover parts", which he turns into a ventriloquist dummy he calls "Little Hermes". At the end of the episode, Hermes wants to replace his brain and go full robot, but nobody will do the surgery. Zoidberg steps up and volunteers... but then puts Hermes' brain back into his human body so he doesn't lose his wife and son. Afterwards, LaBarbara orders Hermes to thank Zoidberg.
As well as the ending as everyone celebrating Ocktoberfest, the chicken dance song starts up. Leela, who was initially opposed to the dance and had earlier chastised Fry for doing it, gets up on the table to perform it. Inviting Fry to join her.
Fry: No Leela, this time it's my turn to be embarrassed. (Leela smiles and does the dance while Fry watches)
From "Zapp Dingbat" after Leela's parents split up:
Leela: It's time to get on with your life.
Morris: But she was my life.
(Everyone stares at him)
From the same episode, after Fry comforts Leela that maybe her mom marrying Zapp is actually what's best for them and Leela realizes he's right.
Fry: Maybe he's not the only one that's marriage material.
Leela:(Kisses Fry on the cheek) You're getting there.
The ending of "Near Death Wish". The Professor reprograms his parents' virtual reality home so it looks like the old farm they lived on, them to look like younger versions of themselves, and himself to look like a child again all so they could play together one last time.
There's also Fry legitimately bonding with the Professor's parents, who think of him as a grandson. Fry, not wanting to confuse them, goes along with it, and they have a blast throughout the whole episode.
The ending of "Game of Tones". For saving the Earth from Digby's earth rattling car locking noise, Nibbler gives Fry a very special reward. Letting him visit his mother's dream. Turns out she dreamed about him a lot after he vanished.
Fry taking advantage of his dream to let Seymour tag along by shrinking him into something pocket-sized is this when one remembers what happened the first time.
The episode "Leela and the Genestalk" has Leela ending up mutating into a hideous tentacle monster. Fry decides he doesn't care and still loves her regardless.
The episode "Stench and Stenchibility," where Dr. Zoidberg meets and dates a woman who cannot smell. He then learns that he can perform a surgery to give her the ability, and decides to do it anyway even though he stinks and she'll dump him. Surprisingly, the show does not Yank the Dog's Chain. Instead, since she never learned a good smell from a bad smell, she likes how Zoidberg smells because she likes him.
ALL of the finale. Fry and Leela are frozen in time together. They make the most of it, deciding to get married and travel the world. The episode ends with them having been Happily Married for several decades.
Leela: I was never lonely. Not even for a minute.
Even better is the ending the professor manages to find them and repairs the time button so that all of them can go back to the instant before the device was created, allowing Fry And Leela to relive their lives all over again.
Even even better is during the original broadcast, Comedy Central immediately followed the finale with the very first episode, with no commercial skips in between.
Fry and Leela's wedding. They go and collect their frozen-in-time loved ones, propping them up in the church pews so they can be present (though the fact that Bender is mid-drink and Leela's father is brushing his teeth crosses it over with CMOF.
When Fry wakes up Bender to tell him of his intention to propose to Leela, Bender acts like his usual jerky self. When Fry leaves, however, Bender actually sheds a tear.