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Recap / Futurama S3 E20: "Godfellas"

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A battle with Space Pirates ends with Bender being shot into space. While Fry does everything in his power to find his lost friend, Bender becomes the subject of worship from a species of tiny organisms that start to grow on his body.


Tropes:

  • An Aesop:
    • If you do too much for others, they become overly reliant on you, and if you do too little, people lose hope.
    • Don't expect recognition from others when you do the right thing.
      Galactic Entity: When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
    • Additionally, you can't wait for someone else to solve your own problems and have to be willing to face and resolve them yourselves. As Bender himself says at the end of the episode when he decides to save the Monks in the face of Fry musing that their God might send them more shoes to eat if they pray hard enough, "You can't count on God for jack!"
  • Astronomic Zoom: The episode ends with one zooming out from Earth to the Galactic Entity in outer space.
  • Being God Is Hard: Bender's seemingly simple request for beer leads to the Shrimpkins having many hardships. They then waged religious war against the other Shrimpkin colony on Bender that couldn't see him and didn't believe he existed. Then everyone living on his surfaces dies. Later in the episode, Bender meets an entity that may or may not be the real God, and shares notes. Conclusion reached:
    Galactic Entity: Bender, being God isn't easy. If you do too much, people get dependent on you. And if you do nothing, they lose hope. You have to use a light touch, like a safecracker or a pickpocket.
    Bender: Or a guy who burns down a bar for insurance money!
    Galactic Entity: Yes, if you make it look like an electrical thing.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Bender carves the drawing of the Pioneer Plaque on his chest, but the man and the woman lack visible genitalia or nipples (the real-life woman on the pioneer plaque downplays this, as she has nipples, but her pubic area is absolutely smooth with no visible vulva whatsoever).
  • Big "NO!": Bender when all the Shrimpkins are wiped out in a nuclear war.
  • Continuity Cameo: The voice from the telescope that yells at Fry to stop asking about Bender is quite clearly Lrrr (RULER OF THE PLANET OMICRON PERSEI 8!)
  • Contrived Coincidence: Fry's prayer to find Bender just happens to reach the God-entity, who happens to have Bender nearby and decides to throw him back to Earth, where he lands mere feet in front of Fry and Leela.
    Leela: This is, by a wide margin, the least likely thing that has ever happened.
  • Corrupting Pornography: Bender houses an asteroid of tiny aliens called the Shrimpkins, a peaceful and religious people who call him their new god. One of the ways he ends up inadvertently corrupting them is constructing a pornography theatre, which is one of the places he checks for survivors of their eventual nuclear war.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Subverted. Bender fears a tiny asteroid penetrating his head, but one does and it only slightly hurts him.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The entire plot only happens because Bender thought it would be a good idea to sleep in a torpedo tube during a fight with Space Pirates. Sure enough, he ends up fired out of one and lost in space.
  • Dressed to Plunder: The space pirate captain dresses like a stereotypical sea pirate from the olden days: bicorn hat, ruffled shirt, eye patches over two of his three eyes, wooden pegs replacing three of his four legs, and parrots on three of his four shoulders.
  • Eating Shoes: After three days locked in the laundry room the monks cook their shoes and eat them.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: Bender tries to slow down his drifting through space by dumping excess weight. So, he starts throwing off the swag he picked up from the Space Pirates.
  • Funny Background Event: In a bit of black comedy, as the Shrimpkins are nuking one another and Malachi's son is hugging the ground in the hopes that Bender will save them, one can see Bender's eyes tracking the nuke that's about to fall on Malachi's family.
  • Genius Loci: God is a sapient galaxy. From the Shrimpkins' perspective, Bender is also a living world.
  • Giant's Droplet, Human's Shower: Provides the page image. When Bender is moved by the Shrimpkins' pleas, one of his tears accidentally causes a major flood.
  • God Guise: Bender ends up drifting in space, where he becomes God to the Shrimpkins, a race of miniature people who end up settling on his body.
  • God Is Flawed: Bender does try to serve as God to the Shrimpkins, but he inadvertently drives them to extinction.
  • Godly Sidestep: "Godfellas" is this trope in compact-episode form. Bender becomes a god, fails horribly, meets something that might be (or have been) God, and then proceeds to learn the ultimate godly lesson:
    Entity: When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
  • Happiness Realized Too Late: Played for Laughs. Following the Space Pirates' attack on the Planet Express Ship, the pirate captain has an epiphany and states, "Too late I realize my children are my only real treasures", right before his ship explodes.
  • Hero with an F in Good: For once, this is Played for Drama. Bender tries to be a decent God to the Shrimpkins, but his own flaws mean he can't properly balance their material and emotional needs, and he ends driving them to self-destruction.
    Bender: (to the Galactic Entity) It was awful. I tried helping them. I tried not helping them but, in the end, I couldn't do them any good.
  • Hidden Depths: Bender tries very hard to be compassionate and merciful towards his Shrimpkin followers, in stark contrast to how he usually treats people. Unfortunately, his thoughtlessness in attempting to perform miracles leads to the Shrimpkin getting wiped out.
  • Ignoring by Singing: Fry engages in this while refusing to believe that finding Bender is hopeless.
    Fry: You can't give up hope just because it's hopeless. You gotta hope even more and cover your ears and go, "Blah blah blah blah!"
  • In Mysterious Ways: God/satellite/satellite-which-collided-with-God believes that God should behave in a mercurial fashion. If a deity does too much for its people, they will become dependent on it, but if it does too little, then its people will not be able to deal with problems beyond their abilities and will lose hope. By working in mysterious ways, the people are motivated to work hard and expand their knowledge but can still receive help if they need it. This is a stark contrast to how Bender plays God to the Shrimpkins. By asking them to do him favors, he inadvertently introduces crime, while maiming and killing hundreds, if not thousands. By trying to help, he kills scores of them and destroys many of their crops. By doing nothing, those he hasn't paid attention to feel ignored and eventually wage all-out war that results in mutually assured destruction, using weapons built from Bender himself. Speaking with the nebula changes Bender, who goes out of his way to rescue trapped monks who Fry suggested God could take care of. Such an act is done of Bender's own will, but only because of the nebula's influence, so the nebula does save the monks, though they will not credit him, thus showing his philosophy in action.
    "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all."
  • Insurance Fraud: Bender gets sent into space and has a brief stint with life forming on his body, note brief, he meets an entity that may or may not be God shortly thereafter. In the conversation that follows, it explains using a "light touch" with creation in terms of "a safe-cracker, or a pickpocket".
    Bender: Or a guy who burns down the bar for the insurance money!
    Galactic Entity: Yes, if he makes it look like an electrical thing. If you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
  • Interfaith Smoothie: Fry goes to the First Amalgamated Church, which has features of several 20th century religions, to try to find Bender. The episode provides the page image.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Malachi's son, and all the other Shrimpkins, dies this way when the civilization on Bender's ass nukes them.
    Son: Look, daddy! I'm hugging God! Maybe if I hug him real hard he'll save us from-[radioactive shockwave vaporizes them]
  • Kindness Ball: This is easily the most sympathetic Bender has been in any episode. Although he does take advantage of his godhood for booze (and even then, it's because he needs alcohol to function properly), he takes no malicious action, regrets even things that accidentally harm others, and at the end goes out of his way to help some people he never even met.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Leela's line under Contrived Coincidence, which the DVD Commentary admits was their way of side-stepping the unlikeliness of it (and Matt Groening calls "hanging a lantern").
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: This is how the godlike entity Bender meets operates. He openly considers the possibilities of being a sufficiently advanced A.I. or an actual Physical God to be equally viable; a clear answer to what it is isn't revealed to either Bender or the audience.
  • Not Quite the Almighty: Discussed by Bender and the Galactic Entity on whether the Entity is God, or a god-like being that was the result of a probe colliding with God. The Galactic Entity admits both are possible.
  • Nuke 'em: The Shrimpkins gain access to Bender's nuclear stockpile. Their society goes downhill really fast after that.
    Malachi: The time has come to convert the unbelievers!
    Bender: Convert them?
    Malachi: To radioactive vapor!
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Fry and Leela are shocked after Bender gets fired out of a torpedo tube.
    • Bender's reaction to the non-believer Shrimpkins on his back finding his nuclear pile and launching atomic bombs at the ones on his front.
  • Panspermia: The Shrimpkins land on Bender via a meteor chunk he crashed into.
  • Phony Psychic: Fry hires the Robot Fortune Teller to channel Bender. She misremembers his name as "Bonder" when claiming to be him and tells Fry to give her more money.
  • Replacement Goldfish: The crew tries to cheer Fry up by giving him a replacement Robot Buddy for missing Bender called "Helper". It doesn't work.
  • Rope Bridge: Subverted. It turns out that the rope bridge to the monastery is actually a moving walkway.
  • Seadog Peg Leg: Space Pirates are featured in the episode. Their captain is a four-legged alien dressed in typical pirate attire, including peg legs for three of his legs.
  • Shadow of Impending Doom: Bender's giant tear casts a menacing shadow before dropping onto the Shrimpkins.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Bender ultimately fails to provide proper guidance to the Shrimpkins, and they wipe themselves out in a nuclear war.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Single-Precept Religion: When Bender is being worshiped by tiny aliens, he issues only one Commandment: God Needs Booze.
  • Space Friction: Bender slows himself down in space by spinning.
  • Space Pirates. In the opening, the Planet Express crew is attacked by an alien pirate embodying every stereotype about the Golden Age of Piracy — complete with multiple peg legs, eyepatches and parrots — but in space.
  • Space "X": The space pirate captain demands that the Planet Express crew hand over the space doubloons, or else he'll shoot them with his space cannons.

 
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Bender meets "God"

While drifting through space, Bender encounters a galactic entity which may or may not be God and has a chat with it about the struggles of being God.

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Main / BeingGodIsHard

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