The Planet Express crew gathers to watch a star go supernova, which releases huge amounts of energy. At the same time, Fry places a metal popcorn dish in the microwave, covering the ship with microwave radiation. As a result, the ship is hurtled throughout space, eventually crashing somewhere on Earth. During the crash, Bender is flung from the ship and Zoidberg is ordered to pick up the pieces. At night, he is captured by soldiers and brought to Roswell, New Mexico, circa 1947.
Realizing that they have traveled backward in time, Leela and the Professor attempt to find a microwave with no luck. Meanwhile Fry goes on the base to find Zoidberg and to visit his grandfather Enis, despite the Professor warning him about changing history
. Due to his paranoia about Enis getting killed or neutered, Fry drives him out to the desert to stay safe. Unfortunately, he chooses a nuclear testing site and Enis dies.
The night of Enis' death, Fry comforts his fiancee Mildred, who comes on to him. Fry resists initially, but then accepts, thinking that she can't be his grandmother as his supposed grandfather just died. The next morning, the Professor tells Fry that he just became his own grandfather; Fry is understandably upset
. The crew then decide to steal a microwave dish from the base and rescue Zoidberg without regard for consequences
. They do so, though Bender's head falls into the desert, remaining buried for a thousand years until his friends find him in the future.
This was the only Futurama episode from the original run to win an Emmy.
- Alien Autopsy: Dr. Zoidberg, however, is still alive and conscious and does things, like re-eating the deviled egg they take out of his stomach and making remarks like, "Take, I've got four of them" when when his heart is removed.
"Don't touch that! I need that to speak!" (Surgeon saws even faster)
- The Alleged Car: "I've never seen a supernova blow up, but if it's anything like my old Chevy Nova, it'll light up the night sky!"
- Ambiguously Gay: Enis questions why he has to go out with girls, and just before he dies, he's examining the male model in the pin-up calendar.
- Lampshaded in the commentary, when they wonder who would buy such a calendar.
- Been There, Shaped History
- Body Paint: Fry uses a can of spray paint that actually creates a army uniform.
- Butterfly of Doom: The Professor gives Fry the classic advice for people going back in time: "Don't do anything that will change history. Unless, you're supposed to do it, in which case for the love of God don't not do it."
- Catchphrase Interruptus: Bender's head falls off the ship as he says, "1947 can bite my shiny metal AAAAAAHHHHH!"
- Distant Reaction Shot and Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The nuclear test going off and obliterating Enis. The scene then cuts to a diner where Professor Farnsworth and Leela are sitting down to eat as the mushroom cloud from the explosion appears in the window. Neither they nor the residents of the town seem to pay it much mind. Believe it or not, that was a realistic reaction. During the 1950s, atomic tests in the deserts of the U.S. Southwest (that would be the states of Arizona and New Mexico for those who don't live there) were so commonplace that people eventually stopped paying them much attention.
- Dramatic Curtain Toss:
General, in all my years of covering top secret discoveries with sheets, I've never dramatically revealed anything as shocking as this. DUN-DUN-DUUUNNNN
- Exploding Calendar: Does in reverse. As the Planet Express crew travel back in time, the ship's digital chronometer ticks backwards, eventually turning into a 1947 pinup calendar.
- Fashions Never Change: in an attempt to fit in in 1947 New Mexico, Leela dons a poodle skirt and beehive hairdo, and Professor Farnsworth wears a zoot suit and fedora while swinging a pocketwatch on a chain. Leela also tries to fit in using Fry's 1990s slang, with similar success.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: The Professor in a 1947 diner orders "a croque monsieur, the paella, two mutton pills and a stein of mead!"
- Get Back to the Future: The Planet Express crew need a microwave oven in order to go back through the wormhole before it closes in, oh, say... EXACTLY 24 HOURS!
- Historical-Domain Character: Harry Truman.
[interrogating a captured Zoidberg] If you come in peace, surrender or be destroyed! If you come to make war, we surrender!
- Historical In-Joke: When Truman is shown Zoidberg and the remains of Bender recovered from Roswell:
Whistling Dixie! I want this taken this to Area 51
for analysis. Soldier:
But sir, that's where we're building the fake moon landing set
. President Truman:
Then we'll have to really land on the Moon! Invent NASA and tell them to get off their fannies!
- My Own Grandpa: Fry, after doing you-know-what with Mildred. It's the only reason he doesn't die after Enis is killed.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Enis is based on Gomer Pyle, and his commanding officer spoofs Sgt. Carter from the same show.
- No Seatbelts: The crew of the Planet Express ship sits down and buckles their seatbelts in preparation for a crash landing except Bender, who smugly insists, "Those things kill more lives than they save." In accordance with the laws of Tempting Fate, Bender is the only one sent flying when the ship touches ground.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: radiation from a supernova combined with radiation from Fry putting aluminum in a microwave oven to create a wormhole that sends the Planet Express crew back in time.
- Pass the Popcorn: Actually works as a plot point that caused the Planet Express to be sent back to 1947.
- Proportional Article Importance: When Leela shows the crew a newspaper with the Roswell crash as the main article, Bender instead focuses on the headline underneath. "Gym renovations on schedule? What a load!"
- Romancing the Widow
- Roswell That Ends Well: The trope namer.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Fry becomes his own grandfather, Professor decides that history is already screwed and storms the air base to get the microwave.
Professor: "Let's get the hell out of here already! Screw history!"
- The Slow Path: In a direct parody of the TNG episode, Bender's head is dropped in the New Mexico desert in the 1940s, and has to be recovered a thousand years later. Not only does Bender not mind being buried in the dirt for a millennium, he actually complains upon being rescued that his peace and quiet are being disturbed.
- Southern-Fried Private: Fry's would-have-been grandfather is a mild parody of this.
- Sweetheart Sipping: The diner in the 1940's has a sign reading "ONE TEEN TO A MALT."
- Tastes Like Purple: "Hey, what smells like blue?"
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Fry and his suppose-to-be-Grandfather order a coffee and meal respectively from Fry's will-be-Grandma, but after panicking over the potential hazards inherent in the diner Fry and co. run out before ever receiving their order. Notable for showing the will-be-Grandma's upset reaction to this.
- The Web Always Existed: Averted. The Planet Express ship crashes because the satellite network that it relies on around Earth to navigate doesn't exist yet.