Trivia / Futurama

The show

  • Actor Allusion:
    • A Bicyclops Built for Two," in which Leela dates a male cyclops named Alcazar, has an entire sequence that plays out like an episode of Married... with Children (which Katey Sagal was famous for before her stint on Futurama), complete with Leela dressed in Peg's tacky housewife clothes and big red hair (which is dead on), Leela's whiny "Al...", and the barrage of Double Entendre met with the lewd hoots and hollers of Al's sleazy friends (similar to the way the Married... with Children studio audience reacted to those jokes).
    • In "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", Melllvar is handing out copies of his fan screenplay but he notes that he didn't print enough copies so 'George and Walter will have to share'. This is something that actually happened to both actors while working on the original Star Trek.
    • In a somewhat obscure example, "Future Stock" isn't the first occasion where Tress MacNeille voices a crotchety old lady who owns one share of a failing company going off on random tangents during a stockholders' meeting. She had an almost identical role in Dilbert three years priornote .
    • Mark Hamill voices Hanukkah Zombie, who flies around in a TIE Fighter with Stars of David on the solar panels. We see it when facing a bunch of solid gold Death Stars.
    • Another obscure example comes from Hermes, in which he said "I'm nothing but a brain" word-for-word, the same way Hector Con Carne said it. Both were voiced by Phil LaMarr.
    • Fry has a few personality traits similar to Billy West's previous character, Doug Funnie (though West has said that Fry was pretty much Billy West when he was in his 20s and trying to cope with the aftermath of having an abusive childhood). Not to mention Fry's brother's named Yancy, which is also Doug's middle name.
    • In "The Mutants are Revolting", Hermes is the one who reads the inscription of the green ring that shoots lasers.
    • When Fry visits the deserted remains of Old New York, he shouts, "Howard Stern is overrated!". Billy West was a member of The Howard Stern Show for several years.
    • From "The Silence of the Clamps," when Bender's friends are looking for him at a farm, and they find a Bending Unit whom they believe to be Bender:
    Fry: Bender, it's us, your friends. You can drop the hillbilly moron act.
    Bending Unit: Sorry mister, but I'm no Bender. I'm just a simple farmer. Name's Billy West!
    • In the segment of "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" that parodies Scooby-Doo, Fry is cast in the role of Shaggy. Billy West had previously provided Shaggy's voice for the film Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. Likewise, the sketch features George Takei playing himself as the criminal disguised as the monster; Takei had played a Scooby-Doo villain just a few years prior in an episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
    • Two in "Leela and the Genestalk": As Fry and Bender climb up Mom's tower, they see run into Adam West (with his head grafted onto a bat's body) and Burt Ward (whose robot body is colored red). They also mention gruesome torture, a riff on how they end up in booby traps. The second allusion comes when Fry, Leela and Bender are making an escape and pass by Finn and Jake who're chained and hanging from a wall.
    Jake: (Weakly) What time is it?
    Bender: Time for you to shut up!note 
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Though Zoidberg does say "Why not?" often, at no point does he or anyone in the series say, "Why not Zoidberg?"
  • Banned Episode: "A Tale of Two Santas", the third produced episode in season 3, was banned due to violence. The episode did eventually air in December 2001, but was never shown again, outside of the rare Comedy Central reruns and the DVD release.
  • The Cast Showoff:
  • Channel Hop: From FOX, to reruns on Cartoon Network, to made-for-DVD, to Comedy Central, and, as of 11/11/2017, to Syfy.
  • Colbert Bump: Those not up on classic punk rock were introduced to Black Flag when their song "TV Party" was featured in "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television".
  • Crossdressing Voices: Kath Soucie as Cubert and Tress MacNeille as Tinny Tim. For men voicing women, we have Phil Hendrie as Frida Waterfall (as per the tradition of Waterfall family members being voiced by him) and Maurice LaMarche as the Crushinator.
  • Defictionalization:
  • Development Gag: In "The Beast with a Billion Backs", Farnsworth and Wernstrom use a robot called the Pocket Pal for a demonstration. In the show's pre-production stages, the Pocket Pal was supposed to guide Fry by explaining several aspects of the 31st century to him, and thus function as a tool for the audience to understand the show's setting better.
  • Edited for Syndication: A few examples:
    • "Space Pilot 3000" had a part where Fry is traveling through the transport tubes to "JFK Jr. Airport." Because of JFK Jr.'s mysterious death involving a plane crash, the destination was changed to "Radio City Mutant Hall" (this was even done on the DVD release, except for the animatic seen on the special features; if you live in the UK or Australia, the "JFK, Jr. Airport" line is still used).
    • Most of the imported FOX episodes that now air on Comedy Central have parts cut for time reasons rather than content (much like The Simpsons), though there was one odd case: On the episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television", after Hermes asks him, Cubert, and Dwight where they got the things for their swinging party, Tinny Tim's line, "From Bender, my good jerkwad" was changed to "From Bender, my good meatbag."
    • The Comedy Central version of "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid" had Bender's line "Hey, let's all join the Reform Party!" changed to "Hey, let's all join the Tea Party!". The Netflix streaming cut and the DVD has the Reform Party line.
    • On two episodes ("The Deep South" and "Bender Gets Made"), the Professor twice yells "Holy (or Sweet) Zombie Jesus!" This line was heard when it aired on FOX (if any viewer managed to see it on that channel), on Comedy Central, on the DVDs, and on Netflix. However, the former reruns on TBS' short-lived "Too Funny to Sleep" cartoon block and Cartoon Network's [adult swim] line-up mutes out the "Jesus" in "Holy (or Sweet) Zombie Jesus!" due to that hypocritical BS&P rule stating that "Oh my God" and its variants (i.e. "Oh God" or "Oh, dear God!" or even "Oh, Lord" and "Good Lord!") are okay, but "Oh, Jesus!" "Christ!" or "Jesus Christ!" is taboo.
    • Following the Norway terrorist attacks in July of 2011, the scene in "The Cryonic Woman" where Bender has an arm that used to belong to the Prime Minister of Norway was changed (on most syndicated free-TV airings) to once belonging to a chainsaw juggler. The Netflix American feed once had the "Prime Minister of Norway" cut of the episode, but when they added the last season of the show and rearranged the episodes by broadcast order, the "Chainsaw Juggler" version was used instead. The DVDs have the original "Prime Minister of Norway" screen.
    • The Australian airing of the "The Cyber House Rules" cuts out the part where Bender stomps on a baby basket left outside Planet Express, thinking it's a real baby (it was actually a recorded invitation to the Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium Reunion).
    • PickTV in the UK and New Zealand edits out a lot of uses of the word "bastard", and the episode "A Clone of My Own" was edited to remove Bender's line "No we don't, you little bedwetter!" after Cubert tells Leela that robots are good at keeping secrets.
  • Executive Meddling: See "Uncanceled" below to learn of how badly this show has been screwed over.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In real life, Professor Philo Farnsworth was the inventor of cathode-ray video transmission, which brought us television, which brought us Futurama.
    • Leela was named after Olivier Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie, which is notable for a few reasons, the most-relevant being its featuring of an electronic instrument, the ondes Martenot (Martenot waves), which has provided distinctive sound effects and music in many sci-fi works.
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: Plenty, for instance the sliding doors use the same sound as the ones in Star Trek.
  • Life Imitates Art: Remember Amy's spray-on bikini? They're working on that.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: See also Talking to Himself. The vocal talents of most of the cast are astounding, in one of the DVD movies it actually shows the end credits according to the characters they played. Billy West fills the screen. Especially impressive as there are multiple episodes that have musical numbers or otherwise stretch the acting muscles in unusual ways. "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles" has the main cast slowly revert to child form, Billy West took Farnsworth from extremely old to adolescent and is vocally recognizable as Farnsworth the whole time.
  • Mutually Fictional: The Simpsons and Futurama play with this in the TV show, with Matt Groening's cameos on each being the creator of the other.
    • Also, in the Simpsons episode "Mayored to the Mob", Üter wears a Futurama shirt. In an episode of Futuramanote , Bender eats the shorts off a Bart Simpson doll (an early 1990s one that had a blue shirt instead of an orange-red one).
  • Name's the Same: Mike Rowe and Josh Weinstein are members of the production crew. However, they aren't that Mike Rowe or that Josh Weinstein.
  • Official Fan-Submitted Content: Suggestions for the episode titles for the German dub of season 2 were collected on And yes, several of them were actually used. They never did something like this again, however.
  • The Other Marty: A particularly tragic example: Zapp was originally meant to be voiced by Phil Hartman, but Hartman died after only recording a few lines, so the role went to Billy West.
  • Permanent Placeholder: The Hypnotoad's trademark droning sound was originally a placeholder, but it sounded so bizarrely wrong that they kept it in.
  • Recycled Script: "The Six Million Dollar Mon" had a plot very similar to the Bump in the Night episode "Farewell, 2 Arms"; both episodes involve a character obtaining a replacement for one of their body parts, then they begin replacing more of their body with new parts until eventually they attempt to complete their transformation by replacing their brain or their entire head. In the end, the character's consciousness is put into their reassembled old body while the body made with new parts becomes a separate entity and antagonizes them.
  • Science Marches On: While it's pretty clear that they really take a lot of Artistic License on science, they actually add tons of accuracy in there. One that was intended to be at least somewhat accurate at the time was when the crew went to Pluto, and it was shown as having only one moon. As of 2012, five moons have actually been detected around Pluto, but around the time when the episode was made, only Charon was known.
  • Screwed by the Network: Resulting in an extended Take That! in "Bender's Big Score" against the "Box Network".
    • Matt Groening unveils Futurella at Comic Con. Opening music starts, title appears, CANCELLED. Groening then comments on how Fox has streamlined the process.
  • Schedule Slip: The original run on Fox had a seriously erratic schedule, resulting in several episodes from season 3 airing in season 4.
  • Star-Making Role: John DiMaggio himself said that it wasn't until he started voicing Bender that his voice acting career really took off. Beforehand he was a stand up comic and bit tv actor.
  • Talking to Himself: Most of the main cast play multiple characters, though Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, and Tress MacNeille are the most frequent. In fact, the only one who plays a single character is Katey Sagal as Leela note .
  • Technology Marches On:
    • Bound to happen with any long-running show that makes joking comparisons to technology of the time. One of the most glaring examples would be in "When Aliens Attack" when the crew were unable to find a VHS of a show called 'Single Female Lawyer' (due to most VHS's being damaged during the second coming of Jesus). No more than a year after the episode aired, VHS's were pretty much overshadowed by the superior DVD format, and a decade after that, most TV shows can be easily found online in one format or another (legally or otherwise).
    • Doubly the case for the computer programming jokes, which are all in the BASIC language. It was popular when the writers were growing up, but had long since been eclipsed by languages like C, Java, and Python by 1999.
    • Also happens with cell phones. In one episode, Amy's phone is comically tiny, since in the real world at the time, cell phones had just become mainstream and were getting smaller each year. During The New '10s, however, touch screens on phones have become popular, and since bigger screens are easier to manage, cell phones have gotten larger.
  • Un-Canceled: Once upon a time in 1999, FOX had been giving the show an inconsistent airing time after season one, and the show was frequently pre-empted by football games. Once, they didn't even bother with the football game and just ran commercials for 10 minutes where the first act should have been. For obvious reasons, this led to disappointing viewer turnout and ratings, despite the pilot episode ("Space Pilot 3000") being the highest rated premiere in the history of the FOX Network. Soon, it was announced that FOX had cancelled the show after "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", which was written to serve as a potential Grand Finale.

    Reruns soon went to Cartoon Network's [adult swim] line-up note , and the episodes actually got more viewers than the first-run episodes on FOX now that the show had a consistent time slot and no pre-emptions. The season set DVDs added to Futurama's popularity, as people now got the chance to see what they were missing without the inconveniences of television (commercials, slot changes, and pre-emptions). Because of this, Matt Groening and his crew for Futurama created four direct-to-DVD movies (Bender's Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender's Game, and Into the Wild Green Yonder), which were again designed to serve as a potential Series Finale if no other channel wanted to pick up the show or if Matt Groening decided to quit (Into the Wild Green Yonder ended with everyone in the Planet Express Ship flying into a wormhole, with heavy implications that they're never going to come back to Earth). Comedy Central also starting airing the movies and the regular series episodes after Matt Groening turned down the chance to have the show renewed on Cartoon Network and Cartoon Network lost the syndication rights to the show in 2007. Comedy Central subsequently ordered new episodes of the show.

    Despite some complaints about the Comedy Central episodes being inferior to the FOX episodes for whatever reason the fanbase has, Futurama enjoyed a good four years on Comedy Central. However, the good times were not to last. In April of 2013, it was announced that Comedy Central was pulling the plug on the show, making the episodes in the second half of the show's seventh season (tenth, if you go by broadcast history) the final episodes ever aired (the final episode "Meanwhile" aired on September 4, 2013). Despite this, Matt Groening is looking to pitch the show to another channel and hopefully revive the series once again (or, at the very least, make a fifth movie [whether made for DVD or made for the movie theater] to end the series), and a Futurama-Simpsons crossover ("Simpsorama") in which Bender and the Planet Express Crew is sent back to the past to kill Bart for a future crime aired in the fall of 2014.
  • Unfinished Episode: There was supposed to be an Origins Episode for Scruffy the Janitor in the final season of the revival.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Despite the setting being in the future, a lot of the humor of the show comes from commenting on modern events and other pop culture trends of the time.
    • "When Aliens Attack" is built around a parody of Ally McBeal, which was topical at the time, but the show quickly fell out of public consciousness after going off the air.
    • "Decision 3012" is set around the premise of getting a qualified, passionate but young politician elected President of Earth, but his opponents start spreading rumors that he was not born on Earth and thereby cannot become president. The episode aired during the 2012 election campaign, featuring Barak Obama running for a second term and the exact thing became an issue in his first presidential bid.
    • "Proposition Infinity" is about the efforts to allow robosexual marriage as an analogy to same sex marriage. In 2016 in the United States, a federal ruling allowed same sex marriage across all the states, rendering the topical nature of the episode dated.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: There was a long-standing rumor that the opening sequence had to be changed after the September 11th attacks to remove the Planet Express ship crashing into the video billboard (as a lot of references to terrorism, buildings exploding, people panicking, and shots of the World Trade Center towers in comedic and dramatic movies and TV shows were subject to censorship during that time). This never happened.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Turanga Leela is named after the Turangalîla Symphonie — a piece of orchestral music by Olivier Messiaen. If you knew of the piece or of the composer without having to check Google, you are a devoted classical music fan and/or an academic.
    • Lots of jokes rely on the viewers being smart enough to understand it, especially the math, engineering, and science jokes, which most viewers wouldn't get unless they were in college or taking Advanced Placement high school classes.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Eric Rogers revealed that they considered making a claymation segment for "Reincarnation" but didn't due to time constraints and money issues.
    • Zapp Brannigan was intended to be played by Phil Hartman, but Hartman's death at the hands of his own wife destroyed any chance of that, so Billy West voiced the character with the same kind of smugness you'd expect from a jerkass Phil Hartman character.
    • Fry originally had "Curtis" as his given name, but was renamed "Phillip" in honor of Phil Hartman.
    • Fry and Leela were originally supposed to be played by Charlie Schlatter (from 18 Again!, Diagnosis: Murder, and Loonatics Unleashed) and Nicole Sullivan (Shego, Joan of Arc and best known as the Vancome Lady from MADtv) respectively.
    • According to Billy West, Ryan Stiles auditioned to be Dr. Zoidberg, and, in his interview with John DiMaggio, Rob Paulsen reveals that he auditioned for Fry. John DiMaggio originally auditioned for Farnsworth, and David X. Cohen considered doing Bender's voice by himself.
    • Bender was initially designed with antennae on each side of his head, which would have functioned as ears. Several episodes have referenced this unused idea via Development Gag.
    • Hermes was originally going to have the Brain Slug on his head for all of season two instead of just "Raging Bender"
    • According to Lauren Tom, Amy was initially written with a relatively masculine personality and job, which would have made her border on Ambiguously Lesbian. She was rewritten as a Girly Girl in order to provide a better contrast between her and Leela, who was already a Tomboy to begin with.
    • Hermes was originally going to be named Dexter.
    • Mom was originally intended to be the dictator of Earth in the setting, but as the concept developed, she was slowly pushed to the sides until she basically became an Advertised Extra.
    • In Zapp Brannigan's introductory episode, "Love's Labors Lost in Space", he was supposed to get fatter every time he reappeared on screen, but the animators were too disgusted by the results to do it.
    • "Roswell that Ends Well" was originally written as a What If? short for "Anthology of Interest II", but was cut after the story got long enough to be its own episode.
    • In "Jurassic Bark", Fry's mother was originally going to be the fossilized remnant from Fry's past that he tries to revive, only to stop at the last minute, but the writers and producers rejected it as being more depressing than the dog story, somehow. The writers did end up making an episode where Fry reunites with his mother again ("Game of Tones") and it's just as tearjerking as this episode.
    • Throughout the first two seasons, there are cameo appearances by an elderly man with the number 9 on his shirt. Initially, he was supposed to represent a fictional caste system in which a person's number determined their social status. However, this idea was abandoned and, when the same character got a major role in the fourth film, the number served as his given name instead.
    • Behold the early concept art for Fry.
  • The Wiki Rule: TheInfosphere.
  • Word of Gay: According to executive producer Bill Odenkirk in the commentary of the Season 3 DVD set, all of Robot Santa's elves are gay. Odenkirk said this in response to questions on why all of the elves were holding hands with others of the same sex.
  • Word of God:
    • Bender's Do-Anything Robot capabilities are due to accidentally getting electrocuted in the first episode. He never dreamed of doing anything but bending girders beforehand.
    • Other perpendicular universes are found, each with its own distinctive quirk—a world of hippies, Romans, bobbleheads, robots, people who never had eyes who nevertheless know what "seeing" is, etc.
    • Zoidberg's appetite, according to producers, includes there being only three things that Zoidberg dislikes: fluorescent light bulbs, brown crayons, and tofu.
  • Working Title: Several titles for this series were considered before Groening and Cohen settled on Futurama. Among these working titles were Aloha, Mars! and Doomsville.

The Comic

  • No Export for You: The UK version got cancelled at the end of 2013 due to catching up with the US originals. The next issue would've used content from the issue still on sale in the Us, and the following one would've overtaken the source! However, this means that the US issues 69 onwards will not be reprinted in the UK unless they get re-released as trade paperbacks.

Other stuff

  • The Movie Bender's Game practically canonizes Walt, Larry and Igner's ages when Nibbler says "It was 36 years ago... now" when Mom started drilling for Dark Matter with the intention of selling it. With their ages being only a couple of years apart and Igner being unborn and only just conceived at the time (Mom didn't appear pregnant in flashbacks)...
    • She had to have been pregnant (but not showing) in the scene where she leaves Farnsworth, because we know who Igner's father is.
    • Walt is approximately 39, Larry 37, and Igner 35.

Trope Namer for:

Image Source for: