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Recap / Futurama S 1 E 1 "Space Pilot 3000"

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"My God. It's the future. My parents. My coworkers. My girlfriend. I'll never see any of them again... YA-HOO!"

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The first episode of Matt Groening's on-again, off-again animated series, Futurama.

Pizza deliverer Philip J. Fry hates his life. He sucks at video games, has to deliver a pizza on New Year's Eve 1999, his girlfriend just dumped him for another person and threw him out of his apartment, and has his bike stolen without him knowing.

The pizza goes to someone named "I. C. Wiener" in a cryogenics lab, where Fry soon realizes that it was a prank call. He sits down and drinks one of the beers, toasting to "another lousy millennium." The bell tolls midnight and he unenthusiastically blows a noise maker when it knocks back in his face, causing him to fall backwards into a cryogenics tube. The tube sets itself for a thousand years and Fry is frozen. By the time Fry awakens, he sees that New York has become an extremely futuristic metropolis and immediately deduces that he is in the future. He realizes that he will never see his friends, family and girlfriend again (since they're all dead and gone)... and he couldn't be any happier (since they never really cared about Fry anywaynote ), but soon realizes that he has nowhere to go and doesn't know anyone in this new world — until he meets a one-eyed purple-haired cyclops career counselor named Leela, a drunk, suicidal robot named Bender, and an elderly Mad Scientist said to be his great-to-the-umpteenth-power nephew with an intergalactic delivery company.

This episode of Futurama provides examples of...

  • Aborted Arc: The idea of career chips premise was pretty much dropped after this episode.
  • Accidental Truth: As the New Year hits, Fry glumly says "here's to another lousy millennium" shortly before falling into a cryogenics tube and actually ending up frozen long enough to live through that lousy millennium.
  • As Himself: Leonard Nimoy and Dick Clark as their preserved heads, the show's first "modern" celebrity guests.
  • Automatic Door Malfunction: As part of the Running Gag of Fry being injured by doors, he gets hit several times by automatic doors, with one even slamming down on his head. These comedic failures also help to promote the idea that the future is not as great as one would think.
  • Bad Boss: Leela's boss, who points out that it's his job to make her do her job, while he sits back in his cozy office and does jack squat.
  • Bait-and-Switch: After the cops tell Leela “Keep your big nose out of this, Eyeball.”, she gets offended… over them insulting her nose.
  • Book Ends: The beginning and the end of the episode puts emphasis on the countdown to the new millennium.
  • Bowdlerise: The original line when Fry gets inside the transport tube is "JFK Jr. Airport," but after John F. Kennedy, Jr. died in a plane crash, the line was changed to "Radio City Mutant Hall" in reruns. The original line can be found on the season one DVD in the special features section that has a full-episode animatic of the pilot, and can also be found on Sky One and Channel 4's airings of this episode in the UK.
  • Bungled Suicide: Bender tries to use a suicide booth, but is thwarted when Fry ends up inside as well and forces them both away from the machine's blades.
  • But Thou Must!: The universe seems to want to make Fry a delivery boy.
  • Butt-Monkey: Fry is introduced as a complete loser. He fails at an arcade game, he's working as a delivery boy, his girlfriend breaks up with him while already dating someone else (on New Year's Eve), a thief steals his bike ("Happy New Year!"), and his delivery was a prank to I.C. Wiener at a cryogenics lab. Then he falls into a cryo tube and ends up a thousand years in the future.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Fry is having a beer with Bender and asks why a robot needs to drink. Bender replies, "I don't need to drink, I can quit anytime I want." This statement comes across as peculiar in later episodes, where it's revealed robots use beer as a fuel source.
    • Bender is introduced suffering from depression, and he is first seen in line for a suicide booth, having become suicidal when he found out that he was bending girders to make suicide booths. This is never brought up again, and in later episodes, he becomes the loud-mouthed, obnoxious, jerk out to Kill All Humans that we all know and love. It's implied (and confirmed by the DVD commentary) that the electroshock let him deviate from his programming, and inspired his criminal tendencies, but later episodes would show robots are regularly capable of such independence.
    • Mr. Panucci came off as an abusive jerk toward Fry. All future episodes portray him as one of the few people who actually cared about him (though he didn't show much concern when Fry was declared missing after getting pushed in the cryogenic freezer), seemingly retconning the first episode outburst as stress.
  • Coin-on-a-String Trick: Bender pulls it on the suicide booth, which makes one wonder what he's saving it for.
  • Comically Missing the Point: While later on in the show, Leela develops a complex for her one eye, here she completely misses Smitty's insult and instead took offense to the idiom. It still prompts her to kick his and URL's asses.
    Smitty: Keep your big nose out of this, eyeball.
    Leela: No one makes fun of my nose.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    Prof. Farnsworth: Would any of you be interested in joining my new crew?
    Bender: New crew? What happened to the old crew?
    Prof. Farnsworth: Oh, those poor sons of... but that's not important.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: New New York. Justified as the city was built of the ruins of "Old New York".
  • Driven to Suicide: Bender, who ironically worked on the same booths he's using to kill himself. That is, until Fry changes his mind.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Amy, Hermes, Zoidberg, Zapp, and Kif appear in the opening title sequence.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Leela and Bender don't sound nearly as high-pitched as they do in the later episodes. Bender in particular sounds more drunk and surly.
    • Professor Farnsworth actually comes off as nice, yet a little dotty due to old age (instead of the insane mad scientist he'd be in later episodes).
    • Fry's girlfriend, Michelle, is voiced by Kath Soucie in this episode. In all further appearances, starting with "The Cryonic Woman", she would be voiced by Sarah Silverman.
    • Fry mentions Star Trek without getting caught by anyone, although the sliding door hits him mid-sentence.
    • Bender claims he doesn't need to drink, when two episodes later it would be revealed that alcohol powers his fuel cells, although he was probably lying to Fry about quitting drinking. Potentially justified; "Mother's Day" established that robots could operate on a synthetic fuel rather than beer, so Bender's use of alcohol as fuel could be interpreted as a choice.
    • The concept of career chips are mostly abandoned after this episode, as characters go from job to job with relative ease. However, the career chips reappear in "The Cryonic Woman" (when Fry and Leela accidentally switch to each other's original chips while fired) and Into the Wild Green Yonder.
    • For that matter, people being shot into the sun for refusing to take up jobs is never mentioned again, and in fact contradicts the existence of homeless people (and robots) in later episodes. Though given that Leela's the only person who mentions it, she may have just been relying on Fry's naivety about 30th/31st century life in order to get him out of the way and allow her to get on with celebrating the New Year.
    • Leela and Bender both say the word "ask" in this episode, when later episodes would claim that the word's pronunciation has become archaic and has been replaced with "axe."
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The first quarter establishes Fry's personality and status in society quite well; a kid mocks him for losing a video game, his girlfriend dumps his stuff out on the sidewalk (and he still doesn't realize that he's been dumped), and to top it all off he realizes that he's been prank-called. When he's finally unfrozen in the future, his first reaction to his predicament is to cheer.
    • Bender's first interaction with Fry establishes several core elements of his character. His very first line is "Bite my shiny metal ass." when Fry mistakes him for a man in a costume, setting up his trademark attitude. He then calls Fry a "meatbag", setting up his distain for humans. His recklessness is established when he waits impatiently for the suicide booth, with an attitude indicating he doesn't comprehend the implications of what he's doing. He also avoids paying for the suicide booth by putting in a coin on a string and yanking it out, establishing his criminal tendencies (even though he won't have any use for the money once he's killed himself, further indicating that he doesn't understand what he's doing).
    • Leela kicking the crap out of two police officers when they make fun of her nose establishes her as an Action Girl and Hypercompetent Sidekick.
    • Professor Farnsworth gets his after offering to make Fry, Leela, and Bender his new crew. Leela thanks him for the offer but objects that they don't have the proper career chips. Farnsworth replies "That won't be a problem! I've saved the chips from my old crew". He then gets the chips out of a folder reading "Contents of Space Wasp's Stomach".
  • Eternal English: The English language is almost exactly the same in 3000 as it was in 2000.
  • Expo Speak Gag: When Fry accepts being part of Planet Express's new spaceship crew, Farnsworth tells him his exact job:
    Farnsworth: You'll be responsible for ensuring that the cargo reaches its destination.
    Fry: (sullen) So... I'm going to be a... delivery boy?
    Farnsworth: Exactly.
    Fry: (excited) All right! I'm a delivery boy!!
  • Fictional Video Game: The series begins with Fry playing an arcade Shoot 'Em Up called Monkey Fracas, Jr.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The premise of the pilot and the series as a whole: an everyman is unwittingly frozen at the end of 1999 and thaws out on the eve of the year 3000.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Matt Groening's head is visible for exactly one frame in the Head Museum.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Fry falls into the cryogenics tube, there is an odd shadow under the desk.
    • The job chips from Farnsworth's old crew are in an envelope labeled "Space wasp stomach contents". This is revisited in "The Sting", where the crew go back to the insects (though they are now bees) and discover the wreck of the previous crew's ship.
    • The spaceship from the video game "Monkey Fracas, Jr." resembles the Planet Express ship.
    • The New Years countdown 2000 featured a shot of Paris and people counting down in French. The New Years countdown 3000 also featured a shot of Paris, but people counted down in English. French becoming a dead language isn't explicitly mentioned until "A Clone of My Own".
  • Heel–Face Turn: Leela spends most of the episode pursuing Fry in order to force him to take the delivery job. However, after Fry realizes most of his family are dead and gives up on trying to escape, Leela sympathizes with his loneliness, abandons her job and joins him and Bender.
  • Human Popsicle: Fry spends a thousand years in suspended animation, and Leela later spends five minutes when she falls into the tube while trying to chip Fry.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Leela: At least here, you'll be treated with dignity. Now strip naked and get on the probulator.
  • Ignore the Disability: During their first meeting, Fry tries not to talk about Leela's one eye. Leela finally gets exasperated about this, and explains that she's an alien.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: Bender says "This calls for a drink!" to Fry and Leela and pulls out three beers. He then drinks all three of them at once.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Leela claims that Fry will be treated with dignity... before forcing him onto the probulator naked.
  • Inspirational Insult: While begrudgingly accepting comments about her lack of two eyes as unpleasant microaggressions, Leela rises to the occasion of heroine when the police officers call her "weirdie" and "eyeball". And she loses it when the cops call her nose big.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Fry and Bender first meet at a suicide booth which Fry mistakes for a phone booth.
  • "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: Bender refuses to bend bars, saying he's only programmed to bend girders.
    Fry: Who cares what you're programmed for? If someone programmed you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?
    Bender: I'll have to check my program. (small pause as he looks away) Yep.
  • Kill the Poor: The unemployment problem was "solved" in a much more humane fashion—by making it illegal to be unemployed.
    Fry: What if I refuse [to do the job]?
    Leela: Then you'll be fired—
    Fry: Fine!
    Leela: ...out of a cannon, into the sun.
  • Large Ham: Terry, the "WELCOME, TO THE WORLD OF TOMORROW!" guy.
    Leela: Shut up, Terry.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The Professor is loath to help the gang escape in his ship since he's already wearing his pajamas, but he will go on to wear the same pajamas everywhere he goes.
  • Married to the Job:
    • Leela, but that's not saying she likes it (as people are pretty much forced to be employed into jobs they don't like in the future).
    • Anyone who has a job in the year 3000, really, or else they would be fired — into the sun, from a cannon. This might be part of the reason that nearly every Earth-human encountered in the series is a jerk.
    • Ipgee, Leela's boss, definitely fits this trope, as evidenced by his one scene.
      Leela: Look, he's just a dumb kid who doesn't want to be a delivery boy, I'd really rather not force it on him.
      Ipgee: Well, that's your job, whether you like it or not. And it's my job to make you do your job, whether I like it or not! ... (cheerfully) Which I do, very much! (turns serious again) Now, get to work.
      (Leela turns and goes, while her boss leans back in his chair and puts his feet up on his desk)
      Ipgee: Life is good.
  • Mood Whiplash: How the cold open ends. Fry steps out of the tube, sees the future, and remarks in shock that he'll never see his loved ones again. And then he cheers.
  • New Year Has Come: Technically, the episode is set on two different New Year's Eves: December 31st, 1999 and December 31st, 2999.
  • The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: Leela informs Fry that in the future, people are assigned job chips, and those who refuse their assigned role are fired... out of a cannon and into the sun.
  • Prolonged Prologue: The Cold Open for this episode lasts approximately three minutes, showing Fry as he makes his pizza delivery on the night of December 31, 1999, gets frozen, and wakes up one thousand years into the future.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Eagle eye viewers will be able to spot Nibbler' shadow underneath the desk when Fry falls into the cryonic chamber, setting up the myth arc about Fry's trip to the future not being accidental.
  • Robosexuals Are Creeps: Bender doesn't want others to mistakenly believe that he's dating Fry and be disliked for it.
    Bender: Well, ok. But I don't want people thinking we're robosexuals. So if anyone asks, you're my debugger.
  • Running Gag: Fry getting injured by doors.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At the very beginning, Fry teaches a kid how to play an arcade video game, who's unimpressed, like Marty McFly in Back to the Future Part II.
    • The Monkey Fracas Jr. game at the beginning of the episode has a monkey that resembles Donkey Kong.
    • During Fry's trip in the travel tube, a green version of Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish from The Simpsons can be seen underwater.
  • Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: Played With for all three protagonists:
    • Fry isn't just running from Leela, but from being pigeonholed into the same dreary job and existence he had a thousand years ago, even after being given a new lease on life. In the end, he still ends up being a delivery boy by career, but because he's more satisfied with the outlook of his future this time around, it becomes his choice to make, which now makes being a delivery boy okay by him.
    • Bender, who lives by his programming, is told by Fry to make his own choices in life and to do whatever he wants with himself. An electrical jolt turns him around on the issue and shows him the light, but ironically it ends up being his Start of Darkness.
    • Leela is the main antagonist for most of the episode, trying to force the world's "you gotta do what you gotta do" philosophy on an unwilling Fry because that's her job. The cruel officers that beat on Fry also repeat this phrase and turn it into an Ironic Echo for her. When she sees that she and Fry are not that different after all, she rejects her own fated job, and as reward, gets a better one in the form of being a commanding starship captain.
  • Take That!: Leela tells the cops they were totally out of line violent, one replies that that's their job.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In order to arrest Fry, URL and Smitty go to ludicrous lengths, even trying to kill them.
  • Time-Passes Montage: After Fry gets frozen, we see a thousand years pass as the city of New York crumbles, is rebuilt, is destroyed, and is rebuilt again.
  • Time Zones Do Not Exist: New York City seems to celebrate the countdown at the exact same time as every other country and continent in the world.
  • Tin-Can Robot: Bender, a standard bending unit. His design as a robot is so hackneyed, upon first glance, Fry thinks it's just a "cheesy New Year's costume".
  • Title In: The series as a whole opens with the text "December 31, 1999" on a black screen.
  • Under City: Old New York, long since abandoned in favor of New New York. Seeing it makes Fry finally realize that he's stuck in the future.
  • Used Future: In the year 3000, they still have those billboards made with rotating triangular columns that were common before we started going digital. As used to happen, one of those columns gets stuck, ruining the display.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: Fry joins the line for a phone booth that turns out to be a Suicide Booth.
  • What You Are in the Dark: After tricking Leela into falling into a cryogenics tube, which gets set for 1000 years (not unlike what happened to himself), Fry is about to leave... before looking back at her, sighing, and decreasing the timer to 5 minutes.
    Fry: You owe me one.
  • Wiper Start: When Fry, his friends, and Farnsworth board the Planet Express ship to escape the police, Fry confidently says, "I'll get us out of here," and tries to start up the ship himself, only to end up staring dumbfoundedly at the ship's coffee maker being activated instead.


Video Example(s):


Fry gets Frozen

Fry accidentally falls into a cryogenic tube in the Year 2000 and is left for 1000 years.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / HumanPopsicle

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