Leela: Then you'll be fired—
Leela: ...out of a cannon, into the sun.
Pizza delivery boy Philip J. Fry hates his life. He sucks at video games, has to deliver a pizza on New Years' Eve 1999, his girlfriend just dumped him for another man 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.
- As Himself: Leonard Nimoy, the show's first "modern" celebrity guest.
- 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 cosy office and does jack squat.
- 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.
- 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 the second half of Smitty's double insult. It still prompts her to kick his and URL's asses.Smitty: Keep your big nose out of this, eyeball.
- 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 snaps him out of it.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Amy, Hermes, Zoidberg, Zapp, and Kif appear in the opening title sequence.
- Early Installment Weirdness and Vocal Evolution:
- Leela and Bender don't sound nearly as high-pitched as they do in the later episodes (especially Bender. Bender sounds more drunk and surly in the season one episodes more than in the later episodes), and Professor Farnsworth actually comes off as nice, yet a little dotty due to old age (instead of the insane jerk 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.
- 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.
- In Bender's first interaction with Fry, 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 (and 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.
- Fictional Video Game: The series begins with Fry playing an arcade Shoot 'em Up called Monkey Fracas, Jr.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Matt Groening's head is visible for exactly one frame in the Head Museum.
- 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 space wasps and discover the wreck of the previous crew's ship.
- The spaceship from the video game "Monkey Fracas, Jr." resembles the Planet Express ship.
- 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.
- Kill the Poor: The unemployment problem was "solved" in a much more humane fashion—by making it illegal to be unemployed. Not unlike in socialism/communism.Fry: What if I refuse [to do the job]?Leela: Then you'll be fired...Fry: Fine!
- 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.
- Immediate Self-Contradiction: Leela claims that Fry will be treated with dignity.Leela: At least here, you'll be treated with dignity. Now strip naked and get on the probulator.
- Interrupted Suicide: Fry and Bender first meet at a suicide booth which Fry mistakes for a phone booth.
- Large Ham: Terry, the "WELCOME, TO THE WORLD OF TOMORROW!" guy.
- 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.
- 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.
- Off-Model: The man on the "You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do" poster has five fingers instead of four like everyone else.
- 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.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In order to arrest Fry, URL and Smitty go to ludicrous lengths, even trying to kill them.
- 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 decreasing the timer to 5 minutes.Fry: You owe me one.