Recap / Futurama S 2 E 16 Anthology Of Interest I

As the title suggests, this is a Three Shorts anthology episode of Futurama. The Professor uses his new invention, the "Fing-Longerer", to reveal his other new invention, the "What If" machine. This is a device that shows a video of a hypothetical scenario after someone asks it a "what-if" question.

  • Bender asks what it would be like if he had been a 500 foot tall robot. He is shown at first befriending Fry, but later destroys New New York. Bender is killed in a battle with an artificially enlarged Zoidberg.
  • Leela asks what she would be like if she were more impulsive. Her first impulse (to buy a pair of boots with an additional stripe) eventually leads to even more impulsive behaivor, causing her to kill everyone at Planet Express except Fry.
  • Fry wants to know what would have happened if he'd never been frozen. It turns out his absence from the future causes a series of time rift that threaten the universe. Former US vice president Al Gore and his "Vice Presidential Action Rangers" (Stephen Hawking, Nichelle Nichols (Uhura from Star Trek: The Original Series), Gary Gygax (creator of Dungeons & Dragons), and Deep Blue the chess playing robot) arrive to convince Fry that he has to be frozen. When Fry breaks the hibernation capsule instead of freezing himself, the entire universe is destroyed, leaving Fry and the Action Rangers floating in a white void.

At the end, it's revealed that the entire episode was the answer to the Professor's question, "What if I had invented the Fing-Longerer?"

Tropes present:

  • Abnormal Ammo: In the first short, things quickly devolved into a Kaiju battle between a 500-foot-tall Zoidberg and Bender. The weapons they decide to use? Zoidberg decides to use a section of a subway as nunchucks, while Bender takes a section of the highspeed onramp and uses the people in it and around him as blow-darts.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Parodied with the last words of 500-foot-tall Bender.
    Bender: I came here with a simple dream. A dream of killing all humans. And this is how it must end? Who's the real 7-billion-ton robot monster here? Not I. Not I.
    Fry: Good night, sweet prince.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • In the first segment, Zapp, Kiff and Bender die.
    • The second has Leela kill everyone at Planet Express but Fry.
    • And the third has the entire universe destroyed except Fry and the Action Rangers.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The first story is about Bender being 500 feet tall. Later, he battles a 500 foot Zoidberg.
  • Ax-Crazy: Impulsive Leela. Later episodes had this coming up much more often.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Leela asks to see what would happen if she was more impulsive, we get a scene of her having bought new, nearly identical boots. Then she starts killing everybody.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, Nichelle Nichols, Gary Gygax, and Deep Blue are revealed to have been part of a secret group tasked with defending the space-time continuum against temporal paradoxes.
  • Berserk Button: Al Gore doesn't like it when people forget his vice presidential duties include "protecting the space-time continuum". He's also not fond of Gary Gygax's incessant use of D&D dice.
  • Best of All Possible Worlds: All three of the shorts lead to the death of several main characters, the last one even destroying the universe with the only survivors being Fry, Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, Deep Blue the chess playing robot, Nichelle Nichols, and Gary Gygax.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Zoidberg wins his fight with Bender by cutting his feet off.
  • Big Little Man: Bender's story begins with what appears to be Giant Bender, but turns out to be a regular-sized Bender, seen from below, one of many robots building the real Giant Bender.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Bender prefers the term extortion. The X makes it sound cool.
  • Bowdlerization: The second story ("What if Leela were impulsive") was (pardon the pun) butchered in syndication:
    • Professor Farnsworth getting eaten by the anteaters after his line, "I just told you: You've killed me" was cut.
    • The entire scene of Leela chopping up Hermes was deleted.
    • The accusing parlor sequence no longer has Leela stabbing Cubert, Scruffy the janitor, and Nibbler in the dark.
  • Buffy Speak:
    Fry: What if I never fell into that freezer-doodle and came to the future-jiggy?
    Prof. Farnsworth: That question is less stupid, though you asked it in a profoundly stupid way.
  • Captain Oblivious: Fry and Zoidberg, in "Dial L for Leela". Zoidberg doesn't even realise Leela's the murderer as Leela violently hacks Hermes to pieces in the next room, or when Nibbler desperately points at Leela. Fry, meanwhile, doesn't even seem to care that much that his co-workers, last living relatives and best friend are all killed.
  • Correspondence Course: Zoidberg has mail-order degrees in murderology and murderonomy.
  • Continuity Nod: Bender uses "axe" instead of "ask", referring back to "Xmas Story" where Leela said that using "ask" instead of "axe" was archaic.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Zoidberg finds the "murdered body of Amy's dead, deceased corpse."
  • Did Not Think This Through: On seeing Giant Bender's rampage, the Planet Express team decide to make Zoidberg giant to fight him, except they don't tell him they want him to fight Bender, so Zoidberg starts lashing out at people and institutions who slighted him before.
  • Dwindling Party: The main plot element of "Dial L for Leela"
  • Easily Forgiven: The Action Rangers don't hold Fry destroying the universe against him very long.
  • Foreshadowing: The Reality-Breaking Paradox of the "Fry never gets frozen" scenario foreshadows both his importance to the universe, and an important revelation in "Roswell That Ends Well".
    • Related to the first point, we see no shadow from under the table as Fry topples.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Fry says this to 500 foot tall Bender after he is impaled by a skyscraper.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: After Fry tells Leela to be more impulsive:
    Leela: I can be really impulsive! It just takes me a while.
  • Jerkass: Nichelle Nichols and Professor Steven Hawking are portrayed as such, Nichols having no problem beating a person senseless with a tennis racket (and outright admitting the Action Rangers have committed murder before), and shoves Al Gore down when he suggests taking a different action, while Hawking is a rude, smug, egotistical, credit-stealing jerk.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Fry destroys the entire universe using a time paradox.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: The Action Rangers apparently default to murder as their usual solution. Unfortunately, with Fry, it doesn't work.
    Nichelle Nichols: Something's wrong! Murder isn't working and that's all we're good for!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Parodied.
    Farnsworth: You've killed me! You've killed me!
    Leela: Oh God! What have I done?!
    Farnsworth: I just told you, you've killed me!
  • Non Sequitur:
    Bender: As a robot living among humans, I've never really felt accepted at parties or nude beaches. So I've always secretly wondered, WHAT IF I WAS 500 FEET TALL?!
  • Recursive Reality: Turns out the whole episode was itself a what-if story from the What If machine.
  • Sex for Services: Leela has sex with Fry in order to make sure he won't tell anyone of the murders.
  • Ship Tease: An early hint at the Fry and Leela relationship. Leela kills everyone, implying this is her first solution to a problem but sleeps with Fry, being her first idea with him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Giant Bender's flying to Earth is accompanied by the riff from Black Sabbath's Iron Man.
    • Given Nichele Nichol's presence in the episode, they make sure to include a reference to Uhura, with her manning the Action Ranger's telephone, informing Al Gore about an incoming transmission.
    • Bender saying he's a big robot and he wants a big cereal is a reference to Honeycomb cereal ads.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: To battle a giant Bender, Professor Farnsworth turns Zoidberg into an "even more equally big monster."
  • Suspect Existence Failure: Parodied, where Zoidberg's summation is repeatedly interrupted by this. Further twisting it is that the new victims each figure out who the real killer is seconds before their deaths (which is why they get killed).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: When Steven Hawking learns about the "Fry Hole," he leaves the pizzeria and tells Mr. Panucci to toss the pizza in the garbage.
  • This Billboard Needs Some Salt: Giant Bender picks up the smoke stacks from a cigarette factory and smokes them.
  • Twist Ending: The entire episode was a "what if" that Farnsworth was looking at.
  • What If?: The whole point of the What-If Machine.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Leela murders Cubert to cover her tracks.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: Trope Namer.