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Recap / Futurama S3 E19: "Roswell That Ends Well"

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Fun for the whole family (Except Grandma and Grandpa)

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 Enos, despite the Professor warning him about changing history. Due to his paranoia about Enos getting killed or neutered, Fry drives him out to the desert to stay safe. Unfortunately, he chooses a nuclear testing site and Enos dies.

The night of Enos' death, Fry comforts his fiancée, 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. To be more specific, it won the 2002 Emmy for "Outstanding Animated Program (Programming Less Than One Hour)".


  • Accidental Time Travel: Thanks to Fry.
  • Adaptational Badass: The first moon landing still happened in 1969 in Futurama, but if President Truman's comments about NASA are accurate, NASA was founded 9 years later than it was in real life, and accomplished in 2 years what took real NASA 9 years.
  • Alien Autopsy: Dr. Zoidberg, however, is still alive and conscious. This doesn't seem to bother him much, his main reactions to being vivisected being re-eating the deviled egg they take out of his stomach and making remarks like "take it, I've got four of them" when his heart is removed.
    Dr. Zoidberg: [one of the surgeons is sawing something] Don't touch that! I need that to speak! [the surgeon pauses, then 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:
  • And I Must Scream: Subverted; Bender didn't mind being stuck in the past for a thousand years.
    Fry: Bender, what was it like lying in that hole for a thousand years?
    Bender: I was enjoying it until you guys showed up!
  • Answer Cut:
    Fry: This means the flying saucer that crashed in Roswell... was us!
    Farnsworth: And the alien they captured was... was...
    [cut to two soldier opening a crate containing a caged:]
    Zoidberg: Hello!
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Even if Zoidberg is The Friend Nobody Likes, the Planet Express crew (Fry and Leela in particular) still go out of their way to rescue him during their raid on the military base.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The Planet Express Crew turns out to be the cause of the Roswell UFO Incident, thanks to time travel — Bender's body was mistakenly reassembled into a mini-UFO, while Zoidberg was the alien autopsy.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Fry when he discovers his supposed-grandpa may be gay, and thus not interested in hooking up with his grandmother.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: This episode is one of the best examples of Zoidberg's... unusual biology. During the autopsy scene, he shows no discomfort with being vivisected, even chatting casually with the researchers as they root around in his body cavity and keeping up a running commentary of his own dissection ("Removing the heart." "Take, I've got four of them!"). His only real complaint is when the surgeon starts cutting whatever he uses to speak.
  • Body Paint: Fry uses a can of spray paint that actually creates an army uniform, similar to Amy's bikini spray from an earlier episode.
  • Brick Joke:
    • We first see Enos Fry being ordered by his sergeant yelling that he wanted a toilet bowl so clean he could eat on it, because he literally intended to. Near the end when Leela stole the microwave antenna, she took the roof with it. And we see the sergeant eating his lunch on the latrine.
    • One of the only people who's allowed to be made aware of the Government Conspiracy at Roswell is a crazy nutjob who no-one will believe. When he tries to take a picture of the government delegates meeting with President Truman, the photo develops... to reveal a bunch of glowing lights in the night sky. Later on, the same aforementioned Conspiracy Theorist takes a photo of the Planet Express ship... and it develops to reveal the famous picture of the Loch Ness Monster.
    • When Zoidberg is being dissected, the scientists take out his heart, to which he says "Take, I've got four of them." At the end of the episode, when they're all back in the future and he's patched up, he pranks Leela by faking needing the extra heart.
  • 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 screaming after he says, "1947 can kiss my shiny metal..."
  • Company Cross References: Bender claiming that seatbelts cost more lives than they save is an allusion to a similar remark made by Homer Simpson when he bought Snake's car.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Planet Express crew basically demolishes the US military base at Roswell with little to no effort. Literally the worst injury that the military is able to inflict upon them is causing some small dents in the ship's armor.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Discussed. When he realizes they might be stuck in the 20th Century, Prof. Farnsworth moans that they'll have to endure "the horrible music of The Big Bopper, and then the terrible tragedy of his death."
  • Death Glare: Fry gives his "grandfather" Enos one when he's more interested in the muscular cowboy than the attractive redhead on the pinup calendar he gave him.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Farnsworth takes Leela setting his tie alight surprisingly well, merely scoffing in annoyance and muttering "...Women!" to the stove salesman.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: The nuclear test going off and obliterating Enos. 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.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: A military officer combines this with Saying Sound Effects Out Loud when revealing what he thinks is a UFO to the on-site General.
    Officer: 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!
  • The Dreaded Toilet Duty: Fry's grandfather Enos is introduced being ordered by his commanding officer to clean the latrines until they are clean enough to eat off of — "Because I intend to!"
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even if he's the Token Evil Teammate Bender is just as disgusted as the Professor and Leela are at what Fry did, loudly exclaiming "OH MY GOD" in disgust.
  • Exploding Calendar: Done in reverse. As the Planet Express crew travels back in time, the ship's digital chronometer ticks backwards, eventually turning into a 1947 pinup calendar.
  • Failed a Spot Check: The scientists investigating the "crash site" completely miss the Planet Express Ship, despite it sitting on a mountain in full view less than a mile away.
  • Fan Disservice: Fry sleeping with his grandmother.
  • Fashions Never Change: In an attempt to fit in around 1947 New Mexico, Leela dons a poodle skirt and beehive hairdo, and Professor Farnsworth wears a zoot suit and fedora while swinging a pocket watch on a chain. Leela also tries to fit in using Fry's 1990s slang, with similar success.
  • Freak Out: Fry runs around screaming in horror when he discovers that by sleeping with his grandmother, he's become his own grandfather.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The whole Planet Express crew, including Fry. Special mention should be given to the Professor, who orders in a 1947 diner "a croque monsieur, the paella, two mutton pills and a stein of mead!"
  • Floating Clocks: Parodied when the ship literally fills up with clocks after falling through a time vortex.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The allusion to grandparents in the episode's opening line is a subtle indicator towards Fry becoming his own grandfather over the course of the episode's plot.
    • Relatedly, Fry's nature as a literal Grandfather Paradox (meaning that his entire existence is a Stable Time Loop) was previously alluded to in the prior season's episode "Anthology of Interest I", wherein Fry never coming to the future causes a Reality-Breaking Paradox.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: There is a small black-and-white photo of the Empire State Building above the phone when Mildred receives the news that Enos was killed. According to Word of God, this is deliberate futureshadowing to indicate that Mildred has an interest in New York City, showing how Fry's family ultimately ended up there.
  • Future Imperfect: Leela and the Professor's ignorance of the 20th century is evident when they try to buy a microwave decades before they were commonly available (the "Radarange" having been introduced in 1946, but far from popular until the early 1970s), and Leela assumes people in 1947 speak like turn-of-the-21st-Century Fry.
  • Gaia's Lament: On arrival at 20th-century Earth, the Professor is baffled by the sudden ozone layer.
    "That's never been there before!"
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: After Fry freaks out about being his own grandpa, Leela smacks some sense back into him.
  • 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!
  • Giving Up on Logic: Professor Farnsworth leads the Planet Express crew in stealing the microwave radio dish after learning that Fry is now his own grandfather, no longer caring at all what changes they'll be making to the timeline.
    Professor Farnsworth: Choke on that, causality!
  • Grandfather Paradox: Fry tries to avoid causing one of these by keeping Enos safe and encouraging him to hook up with Mildred. Of course then it turns out Enos wasn't actually his grandfather anyway.
  • Granny Classic: Mildred immediately starts acting like the archetypical grandmother immediately after Fry sleeps with her, wearing glasses and a shawl, talking in a slow, scratchy voice, knitting in bed, and needing to use a hearing trumpet to hear properly, despite being a young woman who didn't act like this beforehand at all. It's what makes Fry realize he really did sleep with his grandmother.
  • Historical Domain Character: Harry Truman becomes a prominent figure in the narrative after the Army captures Bender's body and Dr. Zoidberg.
    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:
    President Truman: Whistling Dixie! I want this taken 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!
  • Human Mail: Truman is, for some reason, depicted punching his way out of a crate of "canned eggs" being delivered to Roswell.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Farnsworth asks "Who are we to judge?" regarding Fry being his own grandfather. This comes seconds after calling Fry a degenerate for being his own grandfather.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: When Mildred starts to come on to Fry, he is understandably disgusted since he knows (and she doesn't know) she's his grandmother. Of course, after foolish calculations of how he's still alive and that meant Enos and Mildred couldn't possibly be his grandparents, they end up sleeping together.
  • Inventional Wisdom: invoked Fry buys Enos a pinup calendar that for no apparent reason alternates between female and male models. Lampshaded in the commentary, when they wonder who would buy such a calendar (and the obvious answer of them being bi/pansexual doesn't make sense given this was the 1940s).
  • Irony: Fry's efforts to protect Enos are what ultimately end up getting Enos killed. Had Fry simply avoided him outright, Enos would likely still be alive. However, if Fry hadn't taken Enos out and slept with Mildred, his unusual brainwaves would not exist, and Earth would have been doomed by the brain spawn, the Dark One, etc.
  • Literal-Minded: Enos Fry's commanding officer demands that he clean the toilet bowls in a latrine to the point where he could eat off of them. As shown in a Brick Joke during the episode's climax, Enos' CO actually is eating his meals off a toilet bowl.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Zoidberg was disturbingly okay with being vivisected, not even bothered by them removing one of his hearts (he had four of them). The only time he drew the line was when the scientists were about to cut the organ that let him speaknote .
  • Misplaced Retribution: For some reason, when the Planet Express Ship took the roof of the latrine, the Sergeant blamed Enos.
    Sergeant: ENOS!
    Fry: [distantly] He's dead! Sorry!
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: Subverted. President Truman orders the military to take Zoidberg to Area 51, which is where they'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 God, What Have I Done?: Fry's reaction after realizing he slept with his own grandmother.
  • My Own Grampa: Fry, after doing the nasty in the past-y with Mildred. It's the only reason he doesn't die after Enos is killed.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The wormhole formed from the combination of the supernova's radiation and the microwaves that randomly sends the Planet Express crew back in time.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Fry's attempts to protect Enos end up getting him killed in a nuclear test explosion.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Enos is based on Gomer Pyle, and his commanding officer spoofs Sgt. Carter from the same show. (Incidentally, Jim Nabors, who portrayed Gomer, was gay in real life.)
  • No Seatbelts: The crew of the Planet Express ship sits down and buckles their seatbelts in preparation for a crash landing, except for Bender, who smugly insists, "Those things cost 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.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: In the 31st century, the Planet Express crew is a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits and Butt Monkeys who are pretty consistently always the underdog to their vastly more powerful foes (i.e., Lrrr of the planet Omicron Persei 8, President Richard Nixon's Head, Zapp Brannigan, and Mom). But here, in 1947 Roswell, New Mexico? They can deliver a Curb-Stomp Battle to an entire U.S. Army base equipped with tanks and jet fighters with barely any effort.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • It is quickly made apparent that Fry's incident with the microwave did something when the Planet Express ship is returning to Earth: there's no traffic, Earth now has an ozone layer, and there's no longer a global positioning signal, meaning the ship begins to crash.
    • Fry is understandably shocked when his attempt to save his grandfather's life results in him being blown up in a nuclear test:
      Bender: And you... are... outta here!
      • However, the biggest one comes when he realizes he's his own grandfather.
    • Bender gets one when his head falls out of the Planet Express ship.
  • 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: One of the plot points that causes the Planet Express ship to be sent back to 1947.
  • Plot-Sensitive Button: Lampshaded with Fry's All-Purpose Spray.
  • Polka-Dot Paint: The All-Purpose Spray paints an exact duplicate of an army uniform onto Fry's naked body.
  • Popcorn on the Cob: Inverted. After going back in time, the popcorn has turned back into an ear of corn.
  • 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!"
  • Replacement Goldfish: Due to his resemblance to Enos, Mildred takes to Fry immediately after his death, going so far as to have sex with him.
  • Romancing the Widow: A rare unintentional version where Fry doesn't realize what's going on until Mildred takes off her shirt. Not that that stops him afterwards, mind you.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: The Trope Namer, as you can tell.
  • Scotty Time: Leela has everything on the ship fixed except the cup-holder, which she can have ready in 10 hours; Farnsworth angrily tells her she's got 8.
  • Screaming at Squick: Fry, when Farnsworth tells him he just became his own grandfather.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Farnsworth begs everyone to not do anything to severely damage the timeline throughout most of the episode. However, when it was revealed that Fry had accidentally killed his grandfather and slept with his grandmother, he calls Fry out before deciding the temporal damage has already been done and the only way out left is to storm into the army base to get the radar.
    Professor: Start the ship, Leela! Let's just steal the damn dish and get back to our own time!
    Fry: But, but won't that change history?!
    Professor: Oh, a lesson on not changing history from Mister "I'm My Own Grandpa"! Let's just get the hell out of here already! Screw history!
  • Sex for Solace: After losing Enos, Mildred immediately flirts with Fry, unaware that he is her grandson from the future.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Farnsworth calling Fry "Mister 'I'm My Own Grandpa'" and the entire concept of Fry becoming such references the novelty country song "I'm My Own Grandpa."
    • Bender's head ends up lying buried in the sand around Roswell for several centuries before it's rediscovered, much like how Data's head had also been lost in the past and subsequently recovered in the present in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow".
    • Enos's voice, personality, and relationship with his sergeant are parodies of Gomer Pyle.
  • The Slow Path: As noted above, in a direct parody of the TNG episode "Time's Arrow", 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, but he also actually complains upon being rescued that his peace and quiet are being disturbed.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Fry's assumed grandfather, Enos, is a mild parody of this.
  • Squick: invoked An in-universe example as Farnsworth, Leela and Bender check up on Fry, and are sickened to find that Fry had slept with his grandmother. And in Fry's defense, he's just as horrified after he realizes that he's now My Own Grampa.
  • Stable Time Loop: As this is Futurama's first experience with time travel, they settle on this as their rule of time travel (Bender's body was the remains of the "spacecraft" found in Roswell, Zoidberg was the alien, and Fry becomes his own grandfather). "The Why of Fry", Bender's Big Score, and "Decision 3012" would go on to completely muck around with this ("The Late Philip J. Fry" may also cause some rule-bending as well).
  • Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly: After getting the microwave needed to escape quietly is no longer viable, and Fry literally screws with the timeline without ill effect, the crew decides to declare all-out war on the base, rescue Zoidberg and take their microwave dish, timeline be damned.
    Farnsworth: Choke on that, causality!
  • Surprise Incest: Mildred starts coming onto Fry after Enos dies, having no way of knowing he's her grandson from the future. While initially disgusted, Fry convinces himself they aren't related since he still exists after his "grandfather" died. This faulty assumption is the only reason he's willing to reciprocate her advances, and he's horrified when Farnsworth explains how he still exists.
  • Sweetheart Sipping: The diner in the 1940s has a sign reading "ONE TEEN TO A MALT."
  • Take That!: To The Big Bopper and his "horrible music."
  • Tastes Like Purple: "Hey, what smells like blue?"
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Bender refuses to fasten his seatbelt in preparation for a crash landing, arguing that they "cost more lives than they save." Sure enough, he's the only one who gets hurled out of the ship upon landing.
    • When Leela proposes just straight up stealing the army's microwave radar dish, Farnsworth is quick to shoot it down:
      Farnsworth: No! That would alter history. Above all else, it is our sacred duty to preserve the past exactly as it was.
      Fry: [walks into frame carrying Bender's head] Well, I killed my grandfather.
    • Fry eventually concludes that he's doing nothing wrong, since the waitress seducing him clearly couldn't be his grandmother. He only learns this is not the case after they have sex.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Fry and Enos order a coffee and meal respectively from Fry's eventual grandmother, Mildred, but after panicking over the potential hazards inherent in the diner, Fry rushes Enos and himself out before ever receiving their order.
  • Title Drop: The episode's title is written on the bomb the Planet Express fires at the base while rescuing Zoidberg.
  • Unscientific Science: Played for Laughs: Farnsworth credits the time travel to being a mixture of microwave radiation and "gravitons and graviolis" from the supernova.
  • 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.
  • Wham Shot: Fry looking back at the bed and sees Mildred aged up and behaving like his grandmother after they had sex.


Video Example(s):



While in Roswell, Zoidberg is vivisected alive by scientists, though he's not bothered by it (except when they start cutting whatever he uses to speak).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (20 votes)

Example of:

Main / AlienAutopsy

Media sources: